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In or Out


This is the estimated number of decisions an average adult makes daily. These decisions are related to work, learning, eating, drinking, movements, shopping, dressing, sleeping, play, and so on. Well, that’s what my online research revealed (

For the purpose of this discussion, and factoring differences in culture, society, ethnicity, age, gender, and other demographical traits amongst us, let’s just take 10% of 35,000 decisions made. We are still looking at 3,500 decisions made each day!

Then, out of these 3,500 daily decisions, how many are vital decisions that determine the Quality of Life for ourselves and/or our loved ones?

Vital decisions include those that affect our wealth, employment, environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, social belonging, religious beliefs, safety, security, and freedom.

Most of us would feel stressed and anxious when making important decisions. The main reason is because of the fear of losing out due to the uncertainties that we are facing. Let’s look at these in greater detail below.

Holding On or Letting Go

A seemingly simple decision of whether to stay or leave is not easy during different stages of our lives. And especially so when we are playing the role of Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim.

Questions include:

· Should I stay on with this relationship?

· Should I make this declaration of health status?

· Should I get out of this employment?

· Should I take up this educational course?

· Should I still go on with this investment project?

· Should I establish this business?

· Should I continue staying in this neighbourhood?

· Should I proceed with this medical treatment?

· Should I move out of this country?

· Should I start this…?

· Should I stop this…?

· Should I sustain this…?

Some say, “Be strong enough to hold on if it’s worth it and strong enough to let go if it isn’t.”

While some others say, “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hold on too long.”

Rumi, a Persian poet, summed it right that “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”

These are wise words no doubt. But the question is “How to decide whether to persist or quit?”

Some have suggested these techniques and frameworks to decision making:

· Limit our options for a faster process

· Simply listen to our gut and feelings

· Do a limited-time trial

· Do a thought experiment

· Review the lessons and behavioural patterns of the past experiences

· Conduct a Benefit and Cost Analysis

· Conduct a Win and Loss Analysis

· Follow through the various Decision-Making Models of great leaders

These are indeed good suggestions. The uniqueness, circumstances, and encounters in each of us demand some kind of personalization when we engage these recommendations. Again, this may not be an easy task for some of us, especially if we want to be the last man standing.

Back to Basics

So, what should we do? Stay on or get out?

There is one approach that we can consider taking when making a vital decision. My suggestion is to stay on for a while, and have a professional therapist to be involved in the process.

The role of a professional therapist is not to make decisions for their clients. Instead, the therapist’s role is to:

· be an extra pair of eyes and ears

· walk along with them on the challenging journey

· direct them to greater self-understanding

· help them to be more self-aware in terms of body, mind, and soul

· facilitate them to uncover the resources in them and available to them

· explore, analyse and evaluate what options they could consider

· lead and guide them in making the most appropriate and suitable decisions for

particular moments for themselves and/or their loved ones

During my therapy sessions with my clients, I avoid the words “best decision” as this may not exist in the first place. This is because the “best” is always changing from time to time, based on our experiences, situations, and conditions which are always unique, dynamic, and fluid.

So, the “best” we could do is to assess and examine some possible factors, such as:

· What are the ultimate purposes of this particular decision?

· What is the most desirable bigger picture?

· Where is the exact direction to head towards?

· What is the possible impact and outcomes in the longer term?

· Who will be affected and involved besides us, and how much?

· What are the trade-offs if the decision made is not the most appropriate one?

· What are the possible internal and external resources available in the future?

Also, the focus in guiding my clients is on the process of making a decision, rather than what is the decision? This includes leading my clients back to the drawing board to look at their influences and conditioning through the deep-rooted values, beliefs, cultural practices, family and societal expectations and conventions, etc.

For many, it is easier to avoid making a choice and stick with the status quo, perhaps even continue adopting a Persecutor, Rescuer or Victim mentality. However, it is not about being brave or weak in such a situation. It is truly about reaching out for help when we have to make a vital decision. During such troubling moments, can we give ourselves one more chance to take a step forward? This time, with an objective peer walking along with us on the way?

The way out is in.

Thich Nhat Hanh

This article is written based on Krish Phua's greatest aspiration to be a mind healer, facilitating his clients to cultivate and explore "Inside Mind Insights" for improving their Wellness, Wholeness and Wiseness.

Other articles of Krish Phua:


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