Some of us can make ten good decisions in a row, but our old self doubt about our judgment will rise up and sabotage the next one. It is as if we were telling ourselves something like, “If I think it’s A, it must be B!” So we override our first choice and undermined our decision making process. We have shot ourselves in the foot. This conflict between wanting to trust our judgment and our fear of making the wrong choice is very stressful.

Often, the major impediment is perfectionism. Our attitude is: “The only way to avoid making the mistakes is to be sure that my judgment is perfect! Anything less than perfect might be wrong. So I’d better not make any choices at all.” We decide not to decide. We become paralyzed. Then, when push comes to shove, we react to the pressure based on fear of: criticism. In turn, we make impulsive, emotional “solutions”. We don’t get what we want and confirm that our judgment cannot be trusted.

Some antidotes to distrusting our judgment would be to:
• Give ourselves credit for making successful judgments in the past. We can build on our past successes. We are quick to criticize our lapses, but very slow to validate our legitimate successes. If we don’t validate them at the time, we cannot build on them later.

• Replace our perfectionism with a more realistic perspective, such as “My judgment doesn’t have to be perfect, it has to be good enough to get the job done.”

• Remind ourselves that imperfect judgment, is just a mistake, not a failure. Expecting failure is pessimistic, and it makes our judgment worse, not better. Instead, we can say to ourselves, “If I make an imperfect judgment on Tuesday, I can make a better one on Wednesday based on additional information and experience. I am a worthwhile human being in the meantime.”

• Remind ourselves that, “If I make an imperfect judgment, it is not a failure. Setbacks are chances to learn and struggle is a growth experience.”

• Remind ourselves that, “If there is a loss due to a mistake in judgment, it is regrettable. It does not define us. We make many successful choices too.”

When we are under stress it is very easy to lose perspective. Problems that are relatively minor can take on an apparent size that makes them seem difficult and intimidating. Naturally this feeds our feeling of stress, which makes our problems feel worse, which feeds our feeling of stress….

If we take a positive approach to life, trying to find a good side to every situation, then wewill find that we are much less prone to stress. We will worry less, sleep better and enjoy life more. An important part of this is learning to view mistakes as learning experiences – if you have learned something from a mistake, then it has a positive value.

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