Decision Making and Relationships
Thinking about ourselves, our ideas, values and our thoughts has a big impact on the way that we live our lives. It helps us to make thoughtful decisions, it helps us to manage troubling thoughts and it helps us to practice patience. One of the big benefits of understanding how we think and how we manage our thinking and decision making is that it has a positive effect on our relationships. When we don’t consider consequences, context or other peoples’ concerns, we make poor decisions, act impulsively and let our thoughts of worry get out of control. All of these outcomes make it harder for us to connect with people and for others to relate to us.
Have you ever stopped to think about how many small and large decisions we automatically make all the time? When you have a conversation with someone, you are constantly (usually without thinking about it) balancing how much to talk and how much to listen. Even things as simple as how close or far away to stand when in a conversation is something you are deciding in a way. We hopefully get a good feel as we grow up for what works and what does not when we are relating to others. Our friends and family might give us feedback about what is supportive and what is irritating in our behavior; what allows us to feel close and comfortable and what might produce friction in the relationships we have.
As you grow up and begin to have more serious relationships – boyfriend, girlfriends, romantic relationships – the kinds of decisions we might be faced with will get more complicated and also often have more serious consequences. Being in a serious relationship does not just require that we think about how often to call, text, go to the movies and when to hang out together. Questions about sharing private and personal information can become important. Even more, deciding on what amount of physical intimacy feels right for you is something to think about as you begin to explore and experience more serious relationships. It is great to consider your values and your comfort level before you are confronted with making decisions about these types of relationships – it is ok to set the limits that feel comfortable to you. If someone is not ok with this, then maybe this is the wrong relationship for you.
There is another issue to consider in relation to decision making and relationships. Very often, young people (and older people too) feel anxious in many types of social settings. One of the ways many people try to lower their anxiety is with alcohol or other drugs. Again, it is really important to consider ahead of time how these substances can make you less able to make sensible and smart decisions for yourself. It is really helpful to “keep your head” as you live your life!