[Editor Note: we’re exploring a completely different format for this 20-month-long blog!]
The one phrase that everyone associates with Griselda is “It seemed like a good idea at the time!” She has uttered this explanation in regard to the purchase of a tuba, the sudden termination of a relationship, a move to the West coast, dinner at an Indian restaurant even though she detests anything spicy, taking in 6 cats in one fell swoop, buying a diamond bracelet which caused her to default on that month’s rent, etc. But she is not alone: How much of the chaos and mayhem in our own lives can be explained through this one phrase?
So why do we make choices that, in the end, turn out to not have been wise ones? Sometimes it can be due to not having enough life experience yet. Sometimes it can be poor impulse control. Sometimes it can be due to our inability to learn from previous mis-choices. Sometimes it can be outright denial to deal with reality as was once expressed by a friend when he said, “I felt terrible and I didn’t want to explore feeling terrible or what that meant!”
What seems to me to be at the heart of at least some of our mis-choices is a certain short-sightedness: We MUST have that thing NOW, we must leave that person NOW, we must now, Now, NOW! What seems to be called for is to develop the ability to see beyond the immediacy of the moment, to develop some way to pause before jumping. One way to do this, concerning a purchase, is to tell oneself to wait one week with the stipulation that if by the end of that week we still want the purchase then we can go ahead and get it. The idea is that we don’t outright tell ourselves we cannot buy it, but to give our emotions a bit of a breather so we can back off and better, and more objectively, assess whether or not we really want it.
Which brings up the whole issue of “wanting”. There is a difference between a wanting that is immediate and urgent, and one that is more long-termed which is connected to a vision or direction for our life. Perhaps when we are being subjected to “wanting” it might be helpful for us to ask ourselves: “Is this a short-term wanting, or a long-term wanting?” Maybe this could help in viewing the wanting with a little bit of perspective?