Making Choices With Less Anxiety

Making choices can be anxiety provoking, especially if our ideas about the decision are riddled with judgments.

Getting rid of self-criticism when making choices does not guarantee that we will make better choices, just that we will make them with more confidence or at least less worry.

We put pressure on ourselves by considering our choice options as being right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative, fortuitous or disastrous. Instead, we can consider our options in light of the “Two P's,” which are practicality and preference.

Simple Decision-Making Technique: The Two P's

With our reason and logic we can look at our choices in the practical terms of what will work best meet our needs, the quality of each option, economic feasibility, possibly short, and long-term consequences for ourselves and others.

With our inner child, our feelings, and our desires we can tune into what we like, prefer, and what makes us happy. It’s OK to choose what makes us happy.

Practicality requires research, assessment, and judgment. We can give these activities our best effort. Our preferences are what they are and require no explanation. The best we can do is weigh the Ps in a balance and then make our decision.


If our choice options balance out equally in practical terms, we are free to choose according to our preference, or what we like. In other words, if all options are equally practical, pick the favorite option.

If there are practical differences in our choice options, our preferences need to be considered in light of those differences. In other words, if some options are more practical than others, pick one that most closely matches what you want.

Responsibility and Confidence

To choose is to take responsibility for our life, and taking responsibility gives us confidence. We may not like the result of every decision we make, but when we make them our life belongs to us; we make it our own.

“Life is the sum of our choices,” said Albert Camus. We can allow our lives to proceed according to other’s wishes, or we can float along by default, or we can make our own choices and know who we are. Whichever way we proceed, life happens.

General Patton believed that moving forward with a bad plan was better than not having a plan. He understood one of the “secrets” of making decisions with confidence. We make our decisions “right” (as of right as possible) by putting all our energy into them and moving forward. Some decisions that people end up calling “bad” are actually choices that died from being infused with doubt.

Likes and Dislikes

Knowing our likes and dislikes is necessary for our psychological well-being. Our most basic sense of identity comes from knowing what we want or don’t want. Sometimes people who say they have no idea who they are have lost touch with their likes and dislikes, or fear to express them.

Do you prefer green or blue? Do you like hot sauce on your chicken wings or not? These seemingly unimportant preferences underpin our sense of self in the physical world, and without them, we might feel as if we don’t exist. We may not always get what we prefer, but it feels good to know what that is. Expressing preferences makes us visible to our self and helps us consider our choices.

Photo: Free Stock Photos

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