Meet the twins: good + bad decisions

April 24, 2014

girl w flowers glassesEvery day a surgeon makes decisions that can go one of two ways: either very good or very, very, very bad.
The problem is that the epically great decisions and the epically bad ones look exactly the same when you’re making them.

So said the character Meredith Grey on the TV show, Grey’s Anatomy

The secret to Grey’s Anatomy is that Shonda Rimes knows that medicine is not just a life and death matter, it’s a metaphor for life. She and her writers show us that every week. Ok, yes, sometimes over the top. But then, there are lines like the one above.

How true is it that the best and worst decisions look identical when we’re making them?

Back in my early 30s I accepted a marriage proposal after dating someone less than a year. My rationale was that I loved him and so why did it matter whether I married him now or in a year?

It mattered.  But my rationale made perfect sense, to me.

It just didn’t to those who loved me.

And that’s the thing. Our decisions almost always look good to us or we wouldn’t make them.

But reality-test them with a few loved ones and you just might get a different answer.

Once I learned to do that I was forced to hear points of views that differed with mine.

I didn’t always listen, though.

And as a result, I made some epically bad decisions.

It’s hard to have regrets because my life ended up ok. But who knows where I might have gone had those bad decisions not been so epically bad?

Yes, decisions are hard. It’s helpful to remember that we don’t look at them clearly and that getting other points of view can be helpful.

And sometimes, we really should actually listen to them.

32 comments on “Meet the twins: good + bad decisions
  1. I also think we should listen more to the wise people that surround us. If that voice is a loud mutual chorus then at least go to some counseling and see if we their is rationale in it that you are ignoring.

  2. What a great metaphor.

    I should have listened to my wise ones when I made a similar decision in my 20s.

    • admin says:

      Yes and I have a few wise ones who continue to point this out. (laughing) I finally had to tell one “ok, i know, so let’s not ever talk about it again!”

  3. Sometimes we should listen and other times we have to listen to our own hearts. even if it means making mistakes. We take our paths and walk them, wherever they may lead. We can’t look back, only forward.

    • admin says:

      For me, looking back is a useful exercise, as long as I continue to walk forward. All the most effective lessons were learned when I did something epically idiotic.

  4. Common dating advice includes checking in with your best friends! I didn’t and only after breaking up with a man did my friends tell me they didn’t like him. I knew that on one level but chose to ignore it. It was a short lived relationship and no harm done but interesting that no one, not even my sons, spoke up!

    • admin says:

      I’m always torn between the friends who say “whatever you want” and those who make their opinions clear. They’re both done out of love.

  5. If only I’d listened.

    But I can’t help but feel that I would have missed this had I listened. And I don’t think I could have gotten here without going there first. Regret is such a waste of time. And it seems like many of my worst decisions turned into the best things.

    The whole thing reminds me of that Chinese story about the old man and his horse. Blessings sometimes come disguised as curses.

    • admin says:

      I agree. On the other hand, I could’ve done without having my head bashed into the floor and cops coming. That I could have avoided.

      • I’m so sorry that happened to you. I agree that was seemingly unnecessary. But maybe not. I’m feeling very fate driven today. Without that experience you wouldn’t be who you are and that person is terrific. Maybe Nietzsche was right.

  6. Laura Kennedy says:

    I have had exactly the opposite experience! Some of my worst decisions were the result of listening to others’ seemingly wise and sound advice, and most of my best decisions resulted from ignoring the naysayers and following my heart. So much so that my dear husband gave me a card–now framed and on my wall–with a quote from Earl Warren:

    “Everything I did in life that was worthwhile,
    I caught hell for.”

  7. Karen says:

    You’re so right, Carol. I sometimes wish I’d listened to my friends and family who expressed doubts about my first marriage…but then I wonder whether my current relationship could have developed the way it did if I hadn’t married Whatshisname. Ultimately, looking backward is kind of a lame exercise, but it’s useful to try to remember that not every decision I make is 24-carat gold. 🙂

  8. Haralee says:

    Listening regrets, yes I have had a few. I also regret not given some advice only to find out that because I didn’t take other advice why bother. There is a lesson there too, I am always appreciative of anyone’s advice , taken or not!

  9. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it? I knew my first husband a grand total of 4 months before we got engaged. Six months after that we were married. Talk about impetuous decisions.

  10. Karen @BakingInATornado says:

    So often when I ask others’ opinions before making a decision I find that they have a viewpoint that hadn’t even dawned on me. The great thing about having a varied group of friends is that you truly get to see a situation from all sides, if you’re just willing to ask.

  11. Good advice. And I’m also a Grey’s Anatomy fan. Meredith Grey FTW!

  12. Diane says:

    The voices of those who aren’t quite so submerged in the situation! They really do have a better perspective . . .

  13. Kathy says:

    I can also say I should have listened not only to family and good friends but also to myself. There are many things that could have been avoided if I listened but I also have 2 wonderful children so all was not lost.. All said and done I do agree we need to listen to others and take their opinions into account. Thanks for sharing

  14. Sooooo many times I should have listened to my parents. They warned me….and I did the opposite of what they said. Paid for it big time, too.

  15. Hey Carol! I watch Gray’s Anatomy too and agree that sometimes it can be almost brilliant..other times it is can be crazy! This thought is great though and reminds me of the work by author and researcher Daniel Gilbert in his book “Stumbling on Happiness.” He repeatedly shows how most of us really aren’t that good at figuring out what will make us happy—and I’m guessing the same with figuring out WHO will make us happy. Yet, as you say, as long as we are learning and growing along the way who can say it wasn’t what we needed most to do?

    • admin says:

      Here’s the thing: I don’t believe anyone can make us happy. We have to be happy ourselves and then pick a partner. If we try to find someone to be responsible for making us happy it’s an exercise in frustration!

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