Rock and a hard place - How to make tough decisions

I am guessing you have heard the expression, 'between a rock and a hard place.'

Many such expressions spill of our tongues with little thought and there is a general understanding of what it means but this week I have worked with many who have a very acute understanding.  For example;

The client whose sister needs help from her, but to give that help would mean less time with her husband.  Who does she choose, who does she let down?

The client whose relationship is failing.  Does he take the 'easy road' and go back to a less stressful single life (appealing now!) with end destination 'loneliness' (hard place) or does he put up a fight in which he knows he will get some tough knocks.

And my situation- my father dropping a little bombshell that he has suspected cancer and is going for further tests.  Do I provide the care and love I happily gave to Mum after her terminal diagnosis knowing that whilst Mum did all she could to ease the burden, Dad will bleed me dry.  Or do I maintain a distance that will keep me sane (accepting that is all relative!!) but know that he will spend this last stage of his life lonely and by his interpretation, unloved.

The expression is a metaphor of being massively uncomfortable and in a situation that is not easy to get out of.  The 'easy' thing is to do nothing as its all a bit to tricky!  The impact - you stay feeling massively uncomfortable!

My advice to all clients in this place is take action.  Any action, moves you out of that place.  You may need to burrow your way out, you may need to climb out, you may need to make a massive detour - but (and we are getting into physics now...) every action creates a reaction.  When you do something, you create a change.  If that change leads you to a more comfy position, then do more of it!  If the change doesn't make you more comfy, do something else!  But keep 'doing' something or you remain stuck.

There is one common factor in all these stories regardless of what the rock or hard places are, and that is YOUR comfort.  So often, the rock and hard place situations are about attempting to make other people happy often at a cost to your own happiness.  

The first client - her true happiness is beside her husband.  The second - to fight for his marriage.  In both cases, the work we did together helped them to identify that the primary responsibility I believe we all have is our own happiness, our own quality of life.  We cannot MAKE people happy, we cannot MAKE people sad - we can only control those emotions in our own bodies and other people are similarly responsible for theirs.

So yep, that rock and a hard place can be tough as often it means someone is going to be left unhappy/disappointed etc.  But sacrificing your own happiness can often lead to regret - which in my experience is one of the most destructive emotions.  Regretting hurting someone can leave a scar.  Regretting not having looked after yourself can be fatal!

So my situation - at the moment we need to get the results.  Facts are key in rock and hard place situations and at the moment, I don't have them.  But if we get the fact that then has to be faced, I will listen to my heart and protect that in the best way I can so that if I do end up with regrets in life, they are scars I can live with!

If this story has meaning for you, please do get in touch.  

If you have any thoughts on this, I would love to hear them and the comments box is just a little click away.


Published by Caroline Cavanagh Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of Anxiety Alchemy. on |

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