I can remember a story book from my childhood where the lucky protagonist, a kid of maybe eight or nine, is taken for ice cream to a shop that boasts an unfathomable, ridiculous number of ice cream flavours, and in some incredible twist of fortune, he is allowed to get ONE SCOOP OF EACH on his cone. Well, friend, there are SO many reasons why that story resonates with me. I’m gonna venture, 101 reasons. As many reasons as —wait for it—ice cream flavours. Now I pose the question to you, what is better about this child’s predicament, that he gets to savour 101 flavours, or that they DON’T MAKE HIM DECIDE? He doesn’t have to give up pure unadulterated chocolate, to taste the cool creamy blue of a blueberry. He doesn’t have to turn down cherry, with its plump juicy fruity bits all ensconced in pale pink softness. There are caramel swirls of amber and soft gold, and Rocky Road with its mini marshmallows tripping over fudge, and orange sherbet with its zippiness, and root beer, um hello, if you didn’t know the pop flavour could get better with some bonus sugar and cream well here comes a holy miracle. There is TIGER, because what evil genius of tastiness thought to pair sugary sweet black licorice with the contents of a creamsicle?! And that little lucky duck gets every last one.
No, I am not being sponsored by Lucerne. I promise.
Being given permission to have all of the flavours appealed to my young mind (it’s cute that I use the past tense here), because deciding in favour (or flavour) of one thing, in life, typically means deciding against another.
Because, unlike our ice cream eating buddy, we don’t have the time, energy, resources, or cold hard cash to try out every possible permutation, or combination to a problem, a conundrum, or desired state of affairs. And not that I am challenging you to one of those gross food eating show downs, but most of us don’t have the appetite either.
Saying yes to a nutty pistachio, or the invigorating prowess of a chocolate chip mint, means a no to cookies and cream, and would you just look at the size of the chunks of those Oreos! Nestled in sweet snowy white-enough-for-a-forest-princess goo.
We are afraid of missing out. FOMO, is the official name and title of this condition, fear of missing out. It often references a toxic relationship with the IDEA of LOSS.
The IDEA of LOSS is an ego fave of mine. It is always ready at a hop, skip and jump, to tell us what we have fallen short on, erred at, and what we are up against. It is effectively the negative statistician. In any scenario it can find a sense of how it all comes up short, or create one to be found. But you didn’t get to have chocolate, it says in an Eyore voice, head hung low, eyes lowered, crestfallen, donkey ears flapping and flopping and wet with tears, completely erasing the bliss you found at the bottom of that cone Ben and Jerry’s Birthday Cake Surprise.
It has a switch to flip, cutting the lights on your joy, and your win, with reckless disregard for anything but its own reckless disregard.
Sometimes FOMO can be accompanied by AMO, that is, ACTUALLY MISSING OUT, for those of you who have been hanging around the precious ring for one too many moons, and find yourself treasure houses of such “helpful” thoughts, I’m one step ahead. Case in point, my blog from last week, or what to do if your series of decisions results in arriving at the END of the parade. HINT: Bring the screaming and yeehaw-ing inside your sister’s restaurant, preferable while she is working, and ask for the kid’s pasta, vegan please. Then over tip.
Whether it’s literal, or hypothetical, FOMO says to us, “However you are about to spend your time has a cost. It is not enough. It has no inherent value. It is measured against its outcome, and therefore a thousand other potential outcomes, and in this way it can never measure up”. No matter what you choose, or do, you will be a victim of this falling short. Even the decision that leads to world peace will have failed to have cleaned your house, or lost that ten pounds. AND, if I don’t have you there, well guess what, dun dun dun, you will also be the perpetrator!
Of course you will be, because you are the one MAKING THE DECISION!
Neat, huh, how you can manage to suck at both sides of an equation simultaneously?
Unless, of course, this reign of terror gets to you, and you never again decide anything in a meaningful way in your life, ever, because well who wants to be both VICTIM AND PERPETRATOR. Gasp.
Look out creepy clowns, dolls that come alive and every terrifying movie plot ever. You’re gonna have to ramp up your scary jam. This one has you beat.
Here comes time in our story telling for an intermission, my little ones. Get yourself some jawbreakers, but don’t actually bite into them, and some glow in the dark vampire teeth (I am old enough that this was an actual thing at movies when I was wee). Reload your popcorn.
Decision making is a game of RISK. BUT, the risk is out there!!! *points to the window aggressively* In the land of outcomes. I call this place THE WORLD.
And EGO, the same voice that broadcasts LOSS as the daily forecast (seventy eight percent chance of misery, Bob, a one hundred percent chance of you effing it up, Susan), well EGO points to all of those circumstances outside of your control, all of those outcomes of your GAMBLE, and tells you, “Hey kiddo, whatever happens, it’s on you, so don’t make a wrong move. Maybe best if you keep prevaricating, indefinitely.”
Well, little one, Mama Erin is in the house today (the musical house metaphor, not in the creepy babysitter movie kind of way), and I am here to tell you,
IT’S A TRICK.
THE GAME IS RIGGED.
DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT GO CHECK ON THE CHILDREN.
THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!
If you want to make decisions like a bad ass, you need to change way you evaluate risk, the way you measure your decision making success, and the unconscious invisible MEAN GIRL you become when suddenly a daisy is slightly askew somewhere in the garden of your WORLD.
NOW, is Mama Erin going to expect you to give no fucks about what happens out there?
Am I going to expect you to be all like Kung Fu Panda (KFP) trained, there’s no good or bad news only news?
To be indifferent to STUFF you want and THINGS you desire, and PROBLEMS you neeeeeeed fixed?
GAWD NO! I am not cruel, or heartless. And for all of my efforts I am not yet at the Jesus, Mary, Saint level of chill. So I feel you sisters and brothers, and gender neutral friends. I do. Sometimes I joke that Moms are never gonna get full KFP because we feelz our kids’ ills so intensely, (damn it you cute little amazing heart string pulling people).
So I will settle for helping you have your ice cream and eat it too with my handy Decision Do’s and Don’ts Style Guide. Cosmo’s gonna call me up to borrow this one, I am p-r-e-t-t-y sure.
Don’t…get all brave, dig so deep out of your comfort zone that your chillin’ in China (or North America for my readers of Asia), work through old patterns, heal old pain, and open up your little old heart to Love, or Fame, or Fortune, your new career or your hot bod, then light yourself on fire and run screaming the first time Prince or Princess Charming gets on their high horse and commits an assholery, or the scale wields some really evil math in your general direction, or you throw a big sale and no one buys your ethical hamster painting kit.
DO…stay brave. Hold your own hand. Give yourself some freaking kudos for how far you’ve come. Remind yourself that someone else’s actions and choices, royalty or not, do not determine your worth, the worth of your decision, or the future of the relationship that you are creating. Most shitty behaviour (and by most I mean all) is motivated by pain. Don’t throw gas on to that flame. Your commitment is to you, your health, and the relationship that is important to you.
DO…make a decision based on what feels like the most loving choice you can make at the time. Is it as loving to yourself as you can be? Is it as loving to the others involved? These will intersect at their highest point of integrity people. Risk is okay if love is driving it.
Don’t…martyr yourself, sacrifice your health or do it to keep the peace or please your neighbour because you don’t feel you deserve to be and do your own thing. No one wants that from you. That doesn’t feel good for them.
Don’t try to control for all outcomes. You can’t.
Don’t…wait because you don’t have enough information or you need more time (these are legit reasons to wait), then punish yourself for your inaction at regular intervals or when you find yourself getting scared, or the movie music cues to eerie.
DO…give yourself 1000 percent, carte blanche permission to CHOOSE AGAIN. Because guess what?!!!! You ARE choosing again, in every moment. You are choosing to love yourself or leave yourself. To encourage or discourage. So you might as well get all this CHOICE working in favour of steering your path. IT IS PERFECTLY OKAY TO DECIDE BASED ON WHAT YOU CAN SEE AROUND THIS CORNER, THEN DECIDE AGAIN WHEN YOU ‘ROUND THE CORNER AND THE VIEW LOOKS DIFFERENT. In other words, don’t eat a whole cone of bubble gum, if it turns out you don’t like gum.
DON’T hold yourself to an old decision that was born of old information under the punishing guise of, once again and isn’t this starting to get boring already….your foolishness. Maybe cut the noose this time, or at least loosen it a little. What if all this time Eyore just needed some extra patience, or sunshine? Or to hear “Hey little donkey, it’s not all on you. You don’t have to hold it all. That’s too heavy for one little ass.”
So, should you cool it or should you blow? Well my Clash friends (I reference the band here, but you know, it applies to you to). If it’s LOVING, to advocate for what you have invested in, to give a potential a chance, to work through a glitch, to hope, to get up and try again, then you should definitely cool it.
If it’s unhealthy, hurting you, hurting them, if there is abuse, if you have crossed a line where there is no emotional safety, if there is no help, or no one will accept help, if there is no change and no one will self reflect, or work together; if you are not honoured, if you have asked to have your needs met and taken action on that, but it is not possible, then you should blow.
But don’t blow because you’re feeling afraid that you’re responsible for every little glitch in the system, or pebble on your pathway. Don’t blow because someone else lost their cool and your EGO wants to tell you what a fool you’ve been to try, to be vulnerable, to lower the North Wall ever so slightly. Even if you have to try out a few Prince or Princess Charmings to find the one that makes your garden grow.
When your daisy bends south instead of north, apply some ENCOURAGEMENT, to that little flower, to the little flower of your heart, instead of the swift ass kick that your inner mercenary is so freaking good at. Then reassess.
You can’t see what is in the box without opening the box, or tasting the pralines and cream, and a lifetime of running from a closed box that is actually a freezer full of tasty treats, some of which are going to be your favourite flavours, is less than the life of your dreams.
— Love Erin
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