The biggest hurdle to making a scary decision is often figuring out what you’re scared of. When it came to quitting my second job, it turned out I had a vague fear of retaliation from my boss. Also, I just didn’t want her to be mad at me.
I know that seems like some craziness and it is; it’s 100 percent a result of having to survive bullying from peers and abuse from adults in my childhood. I don’t like disappointing people and I definitely don’t like conflict. When an authority figure is involved, the fear and shame I feel is amplified. Either way, I tend to avoid conflict until it blows up and it just usually never works out well.
To be fair to myself, I tried to talk it out with my boss before I wanted to quit, but she was never around except to insult me. So, I’m going to qualify this one as a step in the right direction for me.
We aren’t all victims of abuse and bullying, but we all develop patterns of behavior like this that help us get through life. This recently discovered habit has been continually playing itself out in my relationships for most of my life. At the core of it, though, is this persistent fear of what may happen if I stand up for myself.
It’s not a specific fear either, it’s usually a fear of the unknown – otherwise known as uncertainty. Because I don’t know what is likely to happen, I reflexively recoil. I’m so used to the unknown turning negative that uncertainty in itself is reason enough for me to tumble down an anxiety spiral.
If this sounds familiar, you are so not alone. I think everyone suffers from this at some level. As a person with generalized anxiety who finds peace in certainty and predictability, I find it incredibly difficult to overcome. Seeing as I managed to quit my job, though, it’s not impossible.
There are many ways to help yourself make scary decisions, but dealing with uncertainty itself requires specific work. As far as I’ve found there are two ways to handle this:
- Take a leap of faith
- Build a strong body of evidence
Individually and together, they’re powerful techniques to help you make bold choices in the face uncertainty.
Turn your “whatever” into “fuck it.”
I know I personally tend to accept apathy or just say “whatever” when I’m facing a tough decision. When we say “whatever” we’re convincing ourselves a decision doesn’t matter, so we don’t feel as bad about not doing the right thing for ourselves; it’s like plausible deniability for your conscience. You know it’s bullshit, but you can now call the debate settled and put it out of your mind, despite how conflicted you still feel.
Throwing your hands in the air like you just don’t care and saying “whatever” isn’t the only option. In fact, you could put on your serious face on and say, “fuck it.”
Instead of convincing yourself the decision doesn’t matter, try convincing yourself that what may come doesn’t matter because it’s not here yet. What is here, though, is this an opportunity to do something that will make you a happier person overall. This is also known as not giving a fuck.
Though it’s the exact opposite, people often think saying, “whatever,” means they don’t give a fuck. Teens say “whatever” when they’re irritable and stubborn. When people don’t give a fuck, they say, “fuck it/this/that/her/him/they/etc.” They use their last fuck to make that sentence then they’re all out and have no more to give to the thoughts and cares of others.
No, it doesn’t exactly work like, but words mean things and it’s important to say what you mean. “Whatever” is usually short for “whatever, it doesn’t matter if I feel satisfied in my life.” Whereas, “fuck it” is normally short for “Fuck that specifically and all this shit in general. I matter and deserve to be treated well.” Keep that in mind the next time you’re facing a tough decision and start practicing how to say, “I matter.”
Be your own defense attorney
I, like a lot of you, tend to be my own harshest judge and rarely give myself the benefit of the doubt. I tend to presume that everyone else’s motivations and needs are more valid than mine. It’s a bad habit I’ve built to help myself say “whatever” without feeling like a dumb fuck. If I’m not my own priority, I can make whatever decision soothes my emotions.
To fight back against our brain’s Terminator-like Auto Judge-a-tron 3000: Extra Hateful Edition, we have to become our own Annalise Keating. Believe it or not, no matter much you hate yourself, you can learn how … to get away … with doing what’s best for you.
Alternatively, you can become your own Johnny Cochran and declare that if the life does not fit, you must quit it and do something that fills your heart with joy.
You don’t have to immediately judge every idea that pops into your head. Public officials always remind the public to reserve judgement in high-profile court cases. When it comes to scary personal shit, everything feels pretty damn high profile because it’s your happiness that’s on trial. The next time you’re facing a scary decision and you feel Judge-a-tron spring into action, tell that bitch to hold the fuck on.
Give yourself time to really look at all your options. Take a breath and examine the facts. Run the idea past someone, do some research, get feedback from as many external sources as possible.
That immediate fear response you’re having is due to your emotions clouding your judgement. Just because you’re scared of your own desires doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them. With time, the fear will become easier to handle. With evidence, it becomes easier to say “fuck it” and do what the hell you really, really want, even if it’s just to zig-a-zig-ah.
When it comes to evidence, though, you must remember that the honest truth of what is best for you is all you really need.
I know all this is much easier said than done, but it gets easier the more you do it. No joke, I realized that I needed to learn to stand up for myself before I graduated high school in 2005. Over a decade later, I’m only now starting to make any real headway, but I got there. I was figuring all this out without help. Hopefully, reading this will give you an advantage I didn’t have.