By: Marilyn L. Davis
Can’t Decide Between Your Options? That’s Sitting on the Fence
Are you on the fence? I’ve sat on that fence – the place where we can’t decide between two, or more, choices. It can be inconsequential- do I want one scoop or two of the ice cream – knowing I’ll like either, or it can be a life-altering decision – do I get into recovery or continue in my use.
Unfortunately, as my mentor told me, “All you get by sitting on the fence is splinters in your ass.” Well, that just said it all. Of course, he didn’t stop there – he never did.
Narrowing Your Options
He’d get my attention and then ask me questions to help me see where I might be hesitant to make a decision or take some action.
- Was I resisting, unwilling, or seemingly unable to decide?
- Did I get overwhelmed by the choices?
- What were my fears in determining which choice to make?
- Was I procrastinating and just sitting there, doing nothing?
Not to label me as your mentor, but to pass on the questions that he asked me so that you might find the courage to get off it if you’re sitting on the fence. Here are a few more questions that can help you get off the fence.
- When do you choose not to change?
- How can changing make your life better?
- What are your fears about these changes?
- Are you still using self-defeating behaviors, even knowing the predictable outcomes?
- What causes conflicting feelings – people, places, or things?
- How do you stay stuck in old behaviors?
Are You Still Sitting on the Fence?
There are just as many reasons for sitting on the fence as there are people, so how you state your reasons for not changing might differ from others, but they tend to fall into the following rationalizations for not changing: I do not change because:
- “I’m afraid of success or failure.”
- “You expect me to change too many aspects of myself.”
- “I’m comfortable with the way I do things now.”
- “I believe that the way I do things is right.”
- “People don’t have the right to tell me what to do.”
- “I don’t think I can recover.”
- “Too many people think I don’t live up to my potential now.”
- “This is all overwhelming.”
- “If I change one thing, people will expect me to change more.”
These are all possibilities. However, the most important reason is the one that keeps you sitting on the fence.
Sitting on the Fence Creates Conflict
When I’m conflicted about choices or decisions, I try to remember this quote, “I can attempt to stay on the fence. However, the problem is that the fence is a figment of my fear, not a reality of my journey.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough, Stuck in Fear, So We Justify It
While you’re honest and admit that you have not liked all aspects of your life, you will sometimes stay stuck in the mindset that prompted your life’s problems, and you stubbornly refuse to change.
Ready to Get Off the Fence?
What can you do when you realize you’re sitting on the fence about changing? What are your options for help?
One alternative is to bring this up in your recovery support meeting to discuss with your peers. Many of them faced their fears or overcame the stumbling blocks, and most are willing to share what they did. Ask them.
They are a valuable resource, and learning to use them gives you other perspectives on what, how, and why to change. Furthermore, they are often encouraging and supportive of you when you struggle with conflicting emotions and opinions about the changes you want to make in your life.
Which Side of the Fence is More Appealing?
“When the fear of staying the same is greater than the fear of change, people will change.” ~Author Unknown
It’s amusing to me that ‘author unknown’ means it could be any of us. I think it’s all of us in early recovery – those conflicting feelings about change.
We’re scared of staying in our addiction and scared of the unknown called recovery, so we often get stuck on the fence.
Pick a Side
Only when you are willing to replace rationalization and justification with the right actions and the process that can help you change will you change and improve. On the one hand, you know you need to change, but on the other, you are afraid that your changes won’t be good enough. When you talk about your ambivalence, you can hear yourself being conflicted.
You can decide which side of the fence you will land on because sitting on the fence in the case of addiction vs. recovery is risky. Besides, those splinters hurt!
Maybe it's time to decide which side of the fence you want to be on - your addiction or your recovery– staying the same or overcoming your fear and changing? Click To Tweet
Writing and recovery heal the heart.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at From Addict 2 Advocate and Two Drops of Ink. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.