Two paths in a forest; which one should I choose?

Hello Rosary Lovers! In this post we will ask: how do I make a decision?

Decision-Making in Life

Decision-making is a huge topic in everyone’s life. Our lives are filled with opportunities and necessary situations to make decisions. We cannot avoid making decisions.

Let us note also that to not make a decision is to make a decision: it is to decide not to make a decision.

Let’s explain. Suppose someone asks to marry you. But you don’t know what to say, so you don’t say yes or no. You leave it and change the subject.

That is making a decision. It is the decision to refuse to make a decision and the person who asked to marry you will take it very strongly as a ‘No’. In effect, your indecision has been interpreted as a definite ‘No’.

Or suppose your boss at work asks you to do an extra day each week for more money, and a pay rise. But you have responsibilites with your family on that day each week.

You aren’t sure what to say, so you don’t say anything. You leave it, and your refuse to make a decision.

Your decision is effectively a no, and your boss offers the opportunity to someone else.

It is important therefore to see that refusing to make a decision is not an option. You have to decide in many circumstances in life. You cannot just refuse to give a decision every time.

There may well be times you don’t need to make a decision.

Let us suppose someone approaches you about some accusation hurled against you. You are asked if the accusation is true. To say yes would be to possibly destroy your reputation. To say no might be a lie, or might not be believed.

Instead, you decide to keep your mouth shut and you say ‘No comment’. Pope Francis often chooses this option. In fact, Pope Francis often says nothing at all in response.

This is often a wise option in these sorts of circumstances. By not saying anything, you leave people to think what they want about you. It is out of your control.

Remember, unless you are in a court of law, you don’t have to say Yes or No when challenged by someone else.

For instance, in work recently I was asked who had made a mistake. I didn’t want to say who it was, even though I knew, because that would have been to split on my friend. But I didn’t want to say, ‘I don’t know who did it,’ because that would have been a lie.

So I decided to not say anything. You always have that option in such situations. You don’t have to feel forced to speak. As often said in films when someone is arrested: ‘You have the right to remain silent.’

Use that right when appropriate. Sometimes it really is best to keep silent and not say anything. Sometimes that is the best decision.

Many Decisions Have Been Made for us Already

Now, decisions are made in all sorts of contexts. We make decisions in our careers. If we manage a company, we make many decisions constantly.

We choose who we will marry. We choose how many children to have.

Of course, many decisions in life are made for us. We don’t choose who are parents are. We don’t get to choose what sex we are born with, or what nationality or race we belong to. We don’t get to choose what ‘class’ or part of society we belong to.

So although decisions are vital for much of life, it is important for us to always remember that we cannot control everything because not everything is in our control.

Some of the biggest things in our lives – like the fact that we are alive and exist – are out of our control. I didn’t choose to be born; it simply happened to me.

This is humbling and reminds us that we don’t have as much power of choice as we often imagine.

Different Decision-Making Advice

When it comes to actually making decisions, we are often hit with many different avenues of advice. Everyone is an expert, and the latest guru will want us to go in this direction.

Friends and family can put pressure on us to choose this or that. Media stars and celebrities can easily guide our decisions.

Who we choose to influence us is massively relevant here. Before we even make decisions, we should each ask ourselves: Who are my idols? Who do I listen to? Who influences me? What is my worldview and why?

Now generally speaking, it is unwise for us to listen to just one type of person or group. For instance, if I love films, then much of my worldview is going to come from films.

But if the vast majority of my worldview comes from films, then my decisions are going to be based on films I’ve seen, because they have most shaped my worldview.

This is not holistic, or wholesome. Films are biased and often do not depict actual reality.

The same goes for those who read tonnes of novels. If the only type of literature I read are western modern novels, then my entire worldview will be influenced by modern western thinking.

This is not a holistic approach, and again, novels often do not depict reality.

There is nothing wrong at all with novels or films. I enjoy both! But for some people, the biggest influence on their worldview are things like films or novels. This is a recipe for making some very poor decisions in life.

Similarly, we can learn all sorts from celebrities, but if the only types of people we are listening to are celebrities, then we are going to make the same sorts of mistakes they make.

For instance, many celebrities are divorced and remarried, often multiple times. Surely we don’t also want a string of broken relationships, do we?

But if all we do is listen to celebrities then our worldview will lead us in some good directions, but also some very damaging directions.

We need a holistic approach to making decisions.

But this takes time. I strongly suggest you invest in your own knowledge.

Schooling is often nowhere near enough.

I suggest it is best to think of your school education as simply the start of your education, rather than your actual education.

Think of school as providing you with the necessary building-blocks for developing your own worldview of knowledge by self-study throughout your life.

Schools often don’t teach us many things we really need to know, like how to handle finances, how to run a home, how to take care of children, or why religion is so vital for society and life.

Schools often operate on an agnostic basis. They claim they are just trying to be neutral and to keep religion out of the picture, but in reality it’s an atheistic worldview that is being promoted.

Once again, the fact that schools don’t make a decision for any particular religion means that they end up being agnostic or atheistic in their approach. Which hardly pleases everybody, and isn’t very holistic for school pupils.

If like me you finished school and felt like massive holes in your knowledge remained, then I recommend investing in your own development of knowledge. It will hugely help you to make better decisions in life.

Study Philosophy, Religion, History, and so on. Read books, listen to Audiobooks, read articles on the internet.

Knowledge isn’t Everything!

As useful as knowledge is, it is not the be all and end all.

The Western world is the most educated civilization perhaps in human history, and yet perhaps there has never been more divorce, children born out of wedlock, broken families, addictions, and so much anxiety and sadness.

The Western world is in enormous amounts of debt that will never be repaid. The UK and US are in trillions and trillions of dollars and British pounds of debt.

Check out the happiest nations in the world and you won’t find the USA or the UK at the top.

So acquiring knowledge only takes us so far.

In fact, the biggest decisions we ever make in our lives are essentially MORAL decisions. Ethical decisions.

Should I sleep with this person or not?

Should I lose my virginity?

Should I watch pornography or not?

Should I take drugs or not?

Should I get drunk or not?

Should I lie on my CV or not?

Should I be faithful to my spouse or not?

Should I use contraception or not?

Should I have an abortion or not?

Should I forgive that person who hurt me, or not?

Should I say sorry, or not?

Should I take this money without telling anyone, or not?

And so on.

These are the sorts of decisions that really shape us as people. These are the biggest decisions in life, and they determine our character and our eternal destiny.

Your own Conscience

The Catholic Church teaches that the supreme guide in our life’s choices, especially when it comes to issues of ‘right and wrong’, is our conscience.

Each of us has a conscience, given to us by God. Conscience means ‘with knowledge’.

Conscience means that when faced with moral issues, inside of us we have a voice telling us that something is either right or wrong, and therefore what we should or shouldn’t do.

Now, our consciences can actually be wrong or misguided. For instance, we may be absolutely convinced in our heart of hearts that abortion is a human right, and that women should have the right to choose. But this is a misguided conviction.

How do we know? We know that this is misguided because the Catholic Church teaches that DIRECT abortion is ALWAYS wrong in every circumstance.

Nevertheless, even when a person’s conscience is misguided, they should always follow their conscience.

For instance, if my conscience tells me that I must kill someone in order to save many innocent lives, then I must follow this through or else I am not obeying my conscience.

In reality, it is always wrong to kill someone to save the lives of others, but if my conscience is telling me otherwise, I am bound to obey my conscience, or else – surprisingly – I would be sinning!

This is why it is so important for our consciences to have a correct guide. And that guide is the holy Catholic Church, given to us by God in Jesus Christ.

The Guidance of the Holy Catholic Church

The best way to make decisions is to simply follow the guidance of the Catholic Church. She is the Revelation of God and she reveals God’s will to us.

By learning about the Catholic faith, reading the Catechisms, attending Mass and offering ourselves often to God in prayer, we shall form our consciences properly.

It will then become much easier for us to make decisions in life.

When it comes to very difficult decisions, we always have Mary and the saints to turn to, and even the Lord Jesus himself. They can and will all help us to make the best decisions.

This is the beauty of knowing he who is eternal Wisdom itself: Jesus Christ.


In summary:

  1. Train yourself in human knowledge; take a holistic approach to knowledge and life
  2. Always obey your conscience, even though it can be misguided
  3. Study the Catholic faith and be a faithful Catholic in close communion with the Church

Decision-making is something which cannot be learned in one post on the internet or even by reading lots of books. It is a quality which must be acquired through wisdom.

Let us all turn to the Mother of Wisdom, Mary ever-Virgin, and we shall know her Son, Wisdom incarnate. He will help us always make the best decisions.

God bless.

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