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Decision

Any choice we make involves saying yes to something in our lives, and no to something else. That probably seems obvious. There’s always a positive and negative aspect to any decision we make. No one can have two masters.

Still, many people find themselves paralyzed when it comes to the point of making the choice between one side and the other. St. Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, devotes a whole section to people who get stuck at this point. He identifies three ways people have of acting when the moment for choice comes, and it’s a good idea to spend some time mulling over them for yourself.

Some people, he says, are procrastinators, forever dithering on the edge of making a decision, but never actually coming down firmly on one side or the other. They keep putting it off, over and over again. They never get anywhere.

Others are more subtle: they are the rationalizers. These are people who are stuck in their decision because they are not truly free. They have a strong bias in one direction, and keep on hoping to convince themselves that their preference is the right one. But doubts niggle for them, and they can never find real peace.

Finally, St. Ignatius says, there are the people who come to make a decision with genuine freedom and generosity, people whose deepest wish is simply to find out how they can best be of service to God and humanity in their choice. With that attitude as a starting point, resistance tends to fade away and a choice emerges – with its positive and negative aspects – that can be accepted in peace.