“If In Doubt, Don’t…”
Maybe. We all say it. We all know what it means. It’s about as non-committal as you can get. It’s the word we use as an excuse to not have to make a decision and stand by it. And, most of the time, our ‘maybe’ really means ‘no’. Those on the receiving side of things know it too. Even children will tell you that. So, what’s the reason for it? Quite simply, it’s an out–for others and most importantly, ourselves. The ironic part is that, at best, it buys you time until you actually have to commit to saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ OR to walk away from having to make any kind of decision leaving you right back where you started from. I know that I’ve done it. I’m sure that you have too.
On occasion, the ‘bought’ time of the word ‘maybe’ helps in the overall decision-making process, but most of the time, if we are honest with ourselves, we likely already have or know the answer and we just need to be brave enough to voice it. I think most of the time we put off our answer because we sense that it will not be what the other party wants to hear, and so we try to construct a plausible justification/explanation to go along with it ‘to smooth things over’. I say, forget the long, drawn-out reasoning, which is often just a waste of time anyway as people usually don’t buy it even if we try to convince ourselves that they do, and just give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Either you are in or you are out. Plain and simple.
Now, if you are truly ‘on the fence’ about things, then just be honest with yourself about that as well. Mostly ‘being on the fence’ is our own intuition telling us that something isn’t right, and we really need to listen to that rather than trying to convince ourselves of some kind of non-truth, even if it’s what we want to hear. Know what I mean? And, if someone else is on the fence, we need to remember that, just as with us, there must be some reason for that and we need to take heed of it. Don’t settle for maybe. Accept that ‘maybe’ likely means ‘no’, even if you don’t want to hear it. Call the person on it. Call yourself on it. All will be better off for it. In the end, it might even save a lot of time, energy and unnecessary hurt.
I used to watch, “The Oprah Winfrey” show religiously. While I didn’t always agree with things that she said or did, thinking she got to be a little full of herself at times, I did learn a lot of valuable lessons from the various guests that she interviewed over the years. And during one of those daytime episodes, I very vividly recall her saying, “If in doubt, don’t” though I don’t recall the specific nature of that particular hour-long show. I’m not sure why or how, but ever since then, her words-those words have resonated strongly with me, and I have referred back to them many times throughout my life. In fact, in some instances, I have actually caught myself trying to convince myself or others of something only to realize that clearly I was expressing doubt, and that doubt must mean don’t, so I didn’t. Now I can’t say for sure that it worked because I don’t know the potential results of the situations in which my doubt led to my saying ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’, but I am thinking that I have likely saved myself from making some rather poor decisions thanks to her words ringing true in my mind. I share this because, maybe, just maybe the knowledge of those words spoken by Ms. Winfrey will some day help you too.