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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Decision Tree

I am both fascinated with and perplexed by decision making processes.

Now I've been contemplating something lately, a decision of sorts, and I have also been mightily fighting the urge to do what I normally do this cases such as this:  create a table, list pros and cons, etc.  Yet, either because of my failure to abide by old methods of decision making...or in spite of it...I am literally changing my mind about this particular subject on a daily basis.  One day it's "Choose A", the other it's "Choose B".  For the record, I don't have to choose "A" or "B" right now.  I may end up with only "A" or "B" by default.

The specifics aren't important here, and besides, they will eventually make it to the blog anyway.  Maybe.  What is important is my pondering about how I ponder decision making.  Got over-thinking?

Now the simple beauty of this is that maybe, just maybe, this is my golden learning opportunity to tackle this incessant issue of over-thinking that has dogged me for most of my conscious life.  In truth I have gotten tremendously better in dealing with the constant mental machinations that swirl in my head like so many currents in a giant mental ocean.  But "gotten better" doesn't mean "mission achieved".

One thing I do know for sure is the fact that while I'm very good at capturing concrete thoughts, figures, and other sorts of data points, I'm wholly inadequate when it comes to answer the following very basic question:  How do I FEEL about this?  You see, "feel" almost implies a singular, but in my case...and in support of poor English speakers's more like how I FEELS about something.  Again, my head is this constant swarm of ideas, images, thought, concepts and other stuff, all at once, mostly all the time.  Emotions?  I sometimes think they are difficult for me to pin down as a point of data for two reasons:

  1. They get crowded out (you know, by that constant swarm of ideas, images...).
  2. I have difficulty processing something as abstract as emotions...even (more like especially) my own.
#1 I can simply attribute to a lifetime of aways wanting to figure stuff out.  For example, as young kid I would take anything I could get my hands on apart (including a neighbor's phone once).  For another example, I would routinely bring the encyclopedia to bed to read.  Yes, while I could never get myself to read S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, I did manage to get through the entire alphabet via Encyclopedia Britannica...a couple of times over.  For me, it's all about the data.

#2 comes from growing up.  Emotions were pretty much forbidden as a kid.

In the final analysis there is always a final analysis, meaning that regardless of my seemingly innate need to chew my thoughts like a piece of stringy beef, in the end I still have to make this decision (and many, many more of the rest of my life).  The trick, I think, is to improve the quality, not the quantity of my thought process.


Mike Sporer said...

Hey, Steve! I have likewise been plagued by over-thinking most of my life. It is only in the past 8 years or so that I have learned to be mindful of my thoughts. I think mindfulness is about being sort of a witness to thoughts and emotions.

Spending time in stillness has helped me tremendously.

Enjoy your insights....

Stephen Albert said...

Thanks Mike...I always appreciate your comments. This particular decision, or more correctly how I must make it, is truly testing my limits. That's a good thing. Fortunately I think that it will all come to a head within the next two or three weeks.

- Steve