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on making the right decision
if my heart is in the right place, then that's all that matters to me.
Welcome to the fourth issue of Slice of Life — a newsletter about life lessons in anime (and soon, films). If a friend referred you here (or if you’re simply browsing), you can subscribe below so you don’t miss out.
Every decision we make has an impact on someone other than ourselves. Small actions can lead to bigger changes, like producing a ripple effect by dropping a pebble into a body of still water. This is why I struggle to make certain decisions because I don’t want them to have a negative impact on anyone.
There are decisions that require some analytical thinking before reaching a conclusion, while others don’t. For the latter, my perfectionism can get in the way of even the tiniest decisions, especially if it affects other people. For example, intellectualising a decision between chicken rice and roasted pork rice. Well, what is everyone having? Will someone have to go out of my way to get roasted pork rice if everyone is getting chicken rice? Would getting chicken rice be more value for money? What if the roasted pork rice is a disappointment? Does it even matter?
In my attempt to overcome my indecisive tendencies, I documented two distinct manga as inspiration for help.
— Sōsuke talking to Mitsumi. (Skip and Loafer”, chapter 3)
Mitsumi was in a dilemma, deciding which school club she wanted to join. Seeing how Sōsuke was nonchalant about choosing a club, she sought his advice.
I’d be considering what I might gain or lose out if I made a certain decision. However, it never occurred to me that if I couldn’t decide between two options, then whatever choice I made wouldn’t matter anyway. As Sōsuke said, “If you ever had to give up something important, there is no way you wouldn’t feel its loss”.
If I was as insightful as a high schooler, I’d be unstoppable! Maybe I’d know whether or not I wanted roasted pork rice in the end.
But it doesn’t end here.
Sometimes, even though I know what I want, I become indecisive because I don’t know if it’s the “right” choice especially if it concerns others. What if either party loses out should I choose the “wrong” option? I’d feel disappointed, guilty, or even ashamed that I made the “wrong” decision for myself or for someone else. I already made many poor choices in the past that I wasn’t proud of, so I don’t want to add more to my existing list of Regretful Mistakes. I’ve already spent enough time dwelling on those mistakes and missed opportunities, so I don’t want to repeat and face the shame again.
— Yuko talking to Asa (“Chainsaw Man”, chapter 102)
Asa was getting bullied but she refused to be pitied or sympathised with. Yuko responded by saying she didn’t care about how Asa felt. She wanted to help anyway because it felt right in her heart.
If my heart is in the right place, there will be little to no regrets because the outcome won’t matter. What does it mean to have “your heart in the right place”? I’m envious of people who can trust their intuition or gut feeling. They make decisions without going through the frustration; they just know. For me, “trusting your gut” is not something familiar. I simply cannot tell whether my gut is telling me that I should be afraid or worried.
During the times I felt most confident in making decisions, I had trust in myself with the right intentions. But to trust myself, I need to meet my needs first. Because I can’t help anyone else if I can’t first help myself. I’m not only talking about getting enough rest, water, and exercise, but also doing things that spark joy to me. If you aren’t sure what brings you joy, explore and experiment many things to find out. Am I having fun, doing what makes me feel good? For me, the question is also: have I recently connected with family and friends? Have I recently eaten at my favourite restaurant? Have I been writing enough? Have I been surfskating and practising my sun salutations?
By intentionally taking actions that stimulate me, I become more whole and in tune with myself. So, almost naturally, decisions somehow click and make more sense. I’m filled with things that make me feel alive, making my heart fall into the right place. But when I’m lacking of things I enjoy or forced to overwork than expected, I lose touch with myself. I don’t know what I want.
When I’m indecisive, I overthink the best possible outcome without burdening anyone. I’m embarrassed to fret over something inconsequential, but that’s how I relay to the person that I care about them. But I downplay my needs as if they mean nothing. I could take care of my needs in another way, but if I’m troubling someone, I would rather make it convenient for them.
But the thing is, if someone presented the options on the table, they should already be aware of what they’re doing. They’re willing to invest their time in what they’re offering or the ambiguity of it (e.g. what do you want to eat?). So I should trust them. It’s up to me to make the decision, and up to them to manage their emotions if they’re troubled by it. It shouldn’t be my responsibility to manage their emotions. So long as the decision isn’t exaggerated or harmful, then I shouldn’t overthink it.
When I take care of myself first, I start trusting myself again to make decisions that I can be more proud of, even if they turn out to be mistakes. One can also interpret “the heart in the right place” as acting from a place of love rather than fear. When I do things out of love, I let my heart guide me. My heart feels light and open, willing to give back to others without expecting anything in return. Because the love is unconditional, there is no pressure to perform and no consequences to be worry about.
As long as I trust that my heart is in the right place when I make a decision, that should be good enough for me.
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