What to wear, what to eat, should I go out with Mr. Maybe, should I ask for a raise, each of us makes hundreds of decisions every day. Some big, some small.
How do we avoid making choices that invite regret, resentment, or erode our well-being? Though there’s no surefire way to avoid making mistakes, paying attention to signs we’re on the road to a bad decision can help us switch course before it’s too late. Be prepared to step back if you encounter these six major red flags.
1. Your gut is telling you “no.”
Our instincts aren’t always 100 percent on point, but if you’ve got an uncomfortable feeling about someone or a situation, process these feelings before making a final decision, says Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist. “We’re less likely to feel secure with our choices when we haven’t resolved our internal conflicts about them.”
Carmichael suggests making a pro and con list about big decisions (think: Should I end my relationship? Should I take that new job offer? Should I move in with my boyfriend?). Seeing your fears and expectations written down can help you make a well thought-out decision.
No matter how overblown our apprehensions (your boss might not have it in for you after all, nor might your S.O. be cheating), clarifying them helps clue us into who we are and what we need, Carmichael says. Acknowledging and accepting intense emotions or dread helps us feel more grounded, an essential component of making wise choices.
2. You’re super emotional.
Don’t let your emotions make important decisions in your life, says counselor and couples therapist Melody Li, LMFTA. When we’re overly emotional from anger, anxiety, or other intense emotions, we’re more likely to make poor decisions. So before you hit “send” take a moment to cool down and reassess what you’re doing. Think about the consequences of calling your boss an a-hole before you utter the words.