How to Reduce Stress Part 9: Making Good Decisions Keeps You In Control

When you are younger most of your decisions are made for you by others.  As you get older, you are making more of your own decisions, and along with that privilege come the responsibility for the consequences for each of those decisions.  Life is all about choices, and we all learn that it is about every choice that we make. 

If we choose to eat poorly it will affect us both short term and long term.  Choosing who we will be our friends, what parties we will go to, what and how hard we study in school, and will we say yes or no when faced with smoking, drugs, and personal relationships.

One thing I have learned about decision making is that when we are faced with making a decision very quickly, without time to think about it, our thought process may not always be in line with what our goals are.  Other factors like peer pressure and our emotions may sway us to do things we may later wish we had not done. Thinking ahead and deciding what we will do if put in a certain situation will help us make better decisions when faced with other pressures.

Deciding if our choice or decision is good or bad can easily be summed up in this question, Is it the right thing to do?  We will know or have that feeling in our gut if others will be put in danger, disrespected or hurt physically or emotionally.  We know if we are breaking laws, lying, or making things worse for our friends or parents.  We can examine ourselves to see how we will feel when the decision is carried out and if we will be letting others down including our parents and ourselves.  All of this takes time and needs to be thought about ahead of time.

In business, the process for making quick decisions goes like this:

  1. What is the core issue
  2. What are the facts that will effect this decision
  3. Step back! Do I have to make this an immediate choice?
  4. Visualize the outcome.  What are the consequences?
  5. Follow through with the decision and carrying it out.


In our personal life in those moments when a quick decision needs to be made, these are good questions too.  Making good choices will certainly reduce the stress in our life, and the bad consequences that we will have to deal with, if our choice is not the best for us.  Finally, if you make a bad choice, deal with the consequences and learn from it.  It is not the end of the world, and if we continue to beat ourselves up over a bad decision, our stress levels will continue to rise.

Life Skills: Integrity – Your Support System is a Valuable Aid

Teaching character and life skills to students

When we are growing into adulthood, finding our way, one of the most important things that we have is our friends.  All of us have those special people in our lives that we love to talk to and hang out with.  There is a saying that goes with that that says;  “You are who you hang out with.”  Choosing our friends has a great affect on our ability to maintaining our integrity to our morals, values and ethics as well as reaching our goals.

Surrounding ourselves with those that will “expect more from us that we do ourselves”, they will always be an inspiration for being our best and in fact even ‘master’ our life.  Who are the people that can do that for us and with us?  It is going to include those around us that love us and have our best interest at heart, like our parents, friends and other trusted adults who may be an inspiration to you.  Those other adults like teachers, coaches, religious mentor, musicians can help us look at things from different viewpoints and keep us on a good track.

But how can we be sure our friends have our best interest at heart?

  • If at anytime your ‘friends’ ask you to change yourself like your clothes, language, values or morals, or to do other things to fit in with them you may need a new group of friends.
  • If at anytime your ‘friends’ ask you to do drugs with them, steal, fight, treat others mean, you may need to find a new group of friends.
  • If at any time you feel like you are being used, manipulated or changed from who you are, you may need to find a new group of friends.
  • If you feel like your life is out of control, boxed in, not allowed to have other friends or you are not reaching the goals that you have written down, you may need a new group of friends.

Surround yourself with a support system that you can rely on and that shares your morals, values and ethics and you will be much more likely to keep your integrity to yourself.

Will your child succumb to peer pressure?

By the time a child reaches third grade they are fully aware of the comparisons and assessments being made of them in everything from social skills and personality to physical appearance and athletic ability.  They are at a real crossroad in their early lives where their self esteem is either built or broken.    They now have a choice to make as to whether their decisions will be made from an internal direction or if the choices they make will be based on external influences.

As parents / leaders we too have to consider how we are leading both our personal and professional life.  Are we trying to impress others in order to influence them, or are we focused on who we really are, not trying to be perfect in the eyes of others or the center of attention.  If the example we set for our children, in our personal life is – saying, wearing, and driving the right thing, having the right job and social status or the example we set in our professional life is – struggling to get ahead, looking out for number one, working long hard hours to make the credit card payments – our children notice.

Children will see it in our words, actions and feelings and they will also feel the pressure to follow suit.  Always trying to impress others is hard work.  Both personally and professionally those who are leaders attract others to themselves by focusing on others rather than themselves.  They ask questions, listen and don’t try to be the center of attention.  Being the leader in the family, setting this example will produce children that will make decisions based on internal directions – morals, values, and ethics – rather than being influenced by outside peer pressures.  Is that not how we want our children to really make decisions?

Discipline: Thinking for yourself

All of us have friends that we like to hang out with and do things with.  Not all of our friends and acquaintances will have the same goals or even values that we have.  So what would happen if one of our friends asks us to take part in something that is not a good choice for us?  We know what that is called.  It is peer pressure.

No matter your age there is peer pressure on everyone and all of us must use our discipline so we do not allow others to get in the way of us making good choices for ourselves.  Every choice we make is going to have a result or a consequence.  It can be good for us and move us closer to reaching our goals and living our values or it can be bad for us and result in a bad consequence.

What would happen if we gave in to peer pressure to use drugs or alchohol, take part in an unsafe prank, or to not tell our parents the truth about a matter?  What would happen if we allow others goals for us to sway us from our own goals?

Even as teens and adults we can be swayed to consider following a line of work or education that does not really fit into our ‘purpose’ in life – or into what really makes us happy.  Then years later as we trudge through life and realize we are not happy, we may blame others for making us follow a certain course.  

Be 100% responsible for yourself. Recognize that “Discipline is remembering what you want.”  So what are the goals you are going after, that you really want to reach?  Think for yourself, do not be pushed by others to do something that is not in line with your goals and stay focused.  

Just because your friend are doing it – does not mean that we should do it too.  When you have discipline, you think for yourself!

Honesty about wants and needs

Have you heard of someone being tricked into believing something or someone that wasn’t true? Well of course we have and probably can recount stories of our own. One of the biggest threats that we and our children have today is the the marketing that takes place in the media.
There are many ways that we are enticed to buy products or services including big claims, use of vidid colors, saying “this is the best”, and bringing peer pressure on us and our children. Much of the marketing that takes place today is aimed at our children. As parents we need to be able to help our young ones understand what is happening and to be able to think for themselves to see if this is the best thing for them or just someone trying to sell them something.
How can we teach our children and maybe ourselves the difference between our needs and our wants? Sometimes I look at what I personally have and think of the many individuals and families in the world that do not have the quantity of food or housing that we feel is required for us. In fact I believe that in our quest to be kinder to the earth and world, one way would be to reduce the amount we consume. Not just recycle or reuse, but first reduce.