146: Loving Your Decisions

Jun 21, 2023

One of the biggest themes Dr. Marie Murphy's clients struggle with when they come to her for help is making decisions. With all the unhelpful ideas about decision-making and relationships out there, this comes as no surprise. If you currently believe that there are right and wrong decisions regarding your infidelity situation, this episode is for you.

Most people believe that if they make a "good" decision, they're all set, and if they make a "bad" decision, they're doomed. That's a pretty high-stakes mindset. On top of that, you might not have any helpful tools for making and loving your decisions, and things can get really messy.

Tune in this week to discover how to love your decisions. You have the option of lovingly committing to decisions you have made or loving decisions before you make them. Dr. Marie Murphy is showing you some strategies for making decisions that take into account what you really want, and guide you on how to love your decisions about your infidelity situation.

If you’re ready to take this topic deeper in a confidential and compassionate environment, you can schedule an introductory coaching session with Dr. Marie Murphy by clicking here!

Dr. Marie Murphy is planning a Q&A episode to address your specific infidelity-related questions. You can send your questions to her and, if they’re appropriate, she will answer them on the podcast while keeping you anonymous. Submit your questions by clicking “contact” at the top of this page!


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:
  • How, as a society, we’ve largely bought into the idea that there are right and wrong decisions.

  • What it means to commit to loving decisions ahead of time, or loving a decision you’ve already made.

  • The common obstacles people face when making decisions about their infidelity situation.

  • Why it’s understandable that you might fear making a decision you’ll regret.

  • Some steps to consider following if you have a decision to make.

  • How to love your decisions, even if you haven’t made them systematically.

  • Why you don’t have to stick with a decision that you truly don’t like.

Listen to the Full Episode:


Featured on the Show:

Hi everyone, I’m Dr. Marie Murphy.  I’m a relationship coach and I help people who are engaging in anything they think counts as infidelity to deal with their feelings, clarify what they want, and make decisions about what they’re going to do.  No shame, no blame, no judgements.  If you are in the midst of an infidelity situation and you would like my help resolving it in a way that’s truly right for you, let’s work together.  You can schedule an introductory coaching session with me through my website, mariemurphyphd.com, and you can also learn about the coaching packages I currently offer as well as my current pricing on the services page of my website.

Before I get into the meat of today’s episode, I want to tell you all that I’m going to experiment with doing an ask me anything podcast episode.  Meaning, you get to send me questions, and I will answer them, if possible, and if appropriate, on the podcast.  If you want to ask me a question which I will potentially answer on a future episode, you can go to my website, and at the very top right-hand corner of the home page, it says “contact.”  If you click that, you’ll be taken to a contact form, where you can send me a message with the question you’d like me to answer on the show.  My website is mariemurphyphd.com, and again, you can use the contact form to send me a question you’d like me to answer on the podcast.

Now, here’s the thing.  I’ve never done this before – I’ve never put out an offer to answer listeners’ questions, so I have no idea how this is going to go.  It could be that no one takes me up on this offer, and no one sends me any questions.  It could be that people send me all kinds of questions that are not well-suited to being answered on the show.  It could be that I get a thousand questions that ARE well-suited to being answered on the show, and I make this a multi-episode thing.  I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I invite you to be a part of this adventure/experiment with me.  I don’t want to attempt to over-determine the kinds of questions that are and aren’t suited for this experiment, but I will say this: concise, specific questions are generally good.  Broad, vague questions are generally not-so-good.  So let’s start with that guidance and see how it goes.

Again, to send me your questions, use the contact form on my website, mariemurphyphd.com.  Oh, this is important:  I will not associate your question with your name.  This process will be totally anonymous.  Again, I will not associate your name with your question.  Your identity will NOT be made known on the podcast if I answer a question you submit.

All right.  Let’s get down to the business of today’s episode, which is loving your decisions, or making the best of your decisions.  We have the option to commit to loving decisions we’ve already made, and loving decisions before we make them.  And today I will explain why this can be so helpful.  

As many previous episodes have probably made evident, one of the bigger cross-cutting themes my clients struggle with is making decisions.  And I don’t think that this is very surprising because there are some pretty un-helpful ideas about decisions out there that many of us are likely to have encountered.  For one thing, we’ve collectively bought into the idea that there is such a thing as right decisions and wrong decisions.  Or good decisions and bad decisions.  And with that, a lot of us share the vague but powerful believe that if we make a bad decision, or a wrong decision, we’ll be kind of doomed.  Or maybe not just kind of doomed, but REALLY doomed.  So on a certain level, we may believe that any choice we make has the potential to be pretty loaded.  If we choose well, we’ll be in great shape, and if we don’t choose well, we might be screwed for life.  That’s pretty high stakes.  And then on top of that, many of us have never learned any tools for making decisions.  We haven’t learned how to make decisions systematically.  We haven’t learned how to deal with obstacles that may get in the way of making decisions at all, or decisions that we feel good about.  So not only are decisions super high-stakes, but we don’t have great tools for doing this super high-stakes thing, i.e., making decisions, which is something that we have to do all the time in life.  

That alone is bad enough, but on top of that, we collectively tend to think that decisions about relationships are even higher-stakes than other decisions we might make in life.  And then if we throw infidelity into the mix, the belief that many of us share is that our decisions about what we do about our relationships have stratospherically high stakes.  In other words, we tend to think that there are right and wrong decisions about how to deal with infidelity situations, and if we make the “wrong” decisions, we’ll be doomed to regret our choices and live lives of despair and misery and whatever.  That’s kind of intense, right?

So perhaps not surprisingly, one of the more common things I do with clients is help make decisions more make-able.  I help people clarify the stakes of the decisions they’re making.  I help them deal with obstacles to decision-making.  

One of the common things that gets in the way of making decisions is the fear of making a decision that you will later regret.  And I think this is totally understandable, given our rather unhelpful beliefs about decisions – some of which I just mentioned a moment ago – and given that there’s a common belief out there that regret is something that can just happen to us, and if it does happen to us, it’ll be really bad.  So it’s not surprising that so many of us fear making decisions that we might later regret.  Regret, and how we can minimize it and deal with it is something that I’ve talked about in other episodes, such as Episode 126, which is called “Regret is Optional,” and Episode 59, which is called, “Is the Grass Always Greener?”  

But the good news is, we don’t have to fear regret, and we can make decisions thoughtfully and systematically and deliberately.  We can manage our minds, and consciously relate to our emotions before, during, and after making a decision.  And when we learn how to do those things, and then do them regularly, we can live our lives with a lot less unnecessary drama and suffering.  We can make decisions reasonably efficiently, instead of getting stuck in indecision.  And thus, we can keep moving forward, rather than stagnating.

Today I’m going to talk more about something I’ve mentioned on other podcast episodes, which is committing ahead of time to loving decisions we make, or making the best of decisions we make.  I mentioned this as a means of minimizing regret in episode 126, “Regret is Optional,” and today I’m going to talk a little bit more about how we can do that.

Before I do that, though, let me outline the steps I think are important for you to follow, or at least consider following, if you have a decision to make.

The first is, you want to get really clear on what exactly the nature of your decision is, or what the choice you’re making looks like.  What are you trying to decide?  Are you trying to make a choice between various options?  If so, what are those options?

The second step is to honestly and thoroughly consider why you might choose the various options that are available, and why you might NOT choose those options.  Doing this step well is such an important part of the decision-making process, and there are a LOT of things that can get in the way of doing this step well.  For instance, it can be really hard to honestly consider what we want if we don’t believe that it’s okay for us to want certain things.  If that’s the situation we’re in, we may need to take a look at our beliefs, and perhaps work on changing our beliefs to consider that might indeed have permission to want what we want.  And that can take some work.  It doesn’t have to take forever, but it can take some work, and what I want to suggest is that that work is WORTH IT.  Anything you need to invest in honestly and thoroughly considering your options when you have an important decision to make is worth it, in my opinion.

After we’ve thoroughly considered our options, we get to choose which option we prefer.  We get to say, I want to do THIS for the following reasons.  Simply weighing our options won’t make the decision for us.  Even after we have very thoroughly considered why we might want one thing versus another thing, or versus many other things, we still have to actively DECIDE what we want and what we’re going to do about it.  That could be step three, or it could be step four.

The other thing that we have the opportunity to do when we’re making decisions which could either be step three or step four is recognize that no matter what we choose to do, we may have mixed thoughts and mixed feelings about our decision.  In other words, no matter what we choose to do, we may not feel TOTAL relief, or TOTAL satisfaction, or TOTAL happiness, or whatever.  We may not feel a complete absence of doubt, or uncertainty, or sadness.  And what I want you to consider, early and often, when you’re making a decision, is that this doesn’t have to be a problem.  I want you to consider that it’s REASONABLE to have mixed thoughts and feelings about any major choice or change you make in your life.  We can decide that we don’t need to interpret mixed feelings as an indication that we are making, or might have made, a bad choice, or the wrong decision. 

And, fifth, we can go into decisions with a commitment to make the best of our choices.  We can plan to do this while we’re making a choice, and after we’ve made a choice.  And, as I’ll talk about today, we can decide that we’re going to love decisions that we’ve made even if we didn’t make those decisions all that systematically.  Even if we made a decision haphazardly, you can still commit to making the best of it. 

So let’s start off by talking about how you can commit to loving a decision before you’ve made a decision, or before you’ve taken action in the service of your decision.  To return to an example that I use far too often, let’s say you’re considering leaving your marriage, in part because you want to have the opportunity to pursue a relationship with someone else.  You have the opportunity to get really clear on why you might choose to leave your marriage, and why you might not choose to leave your marriage.  You can search your soul and make lists of why you might and might not choose to pursue the options that are available to you, and you can make these lists of reasons as honest and detailed and comprehensive as you possibly can.

And then you can decide which of these sets of reasons you would prefer to live with.  

When people start to consider why they might do one thing versus another, and consider that they can simply decide what they prefer to do based on their own reasons, they sometimes start to balk.  Sometimes people think they aren’t really allowed to make decisions based on their preferences.  Sometimes people think that the process of making a decision can’t really be this simple.  And sometimes people say things like, “Well, I might know what I want now, but how can I make a decision when I don’t know what I’ll want in the future?  I don’t know how I would feel if I were actually to get divorced.”  Or, “I don’t know how I would feel if I were to give up my relationship with my affair partner and recommit to my spouse.”  

Here's the thing, people.  If you’ve been saying this, or anything along these lines, you are, in a sense, quite correct.  The future hasn’t happened yet, so we can’t be sure how we will feel in the future.  But we don’t have to let this become or remain a reason why we don’t make decisions.

You can make a decision based on what you know you want right now, and you can commit to appreciating the experience of having what you want in the future. 

And you may already be doing exactly this in certain ways in your life that you might not fully recognize.  For instance, if you have decided to go on vacation, you have probably decided what you’re going to enjoy about going on vacation.  In making the decision to go on vacation, you’ve probably also decided that you want to enjoy your vacation.  You’ve probably decided what specifically you want to enjoy about your vacation.  And more importantly, you’re probably planning to enjoy it.  It may be true that you’re also anticipating possible challenges or annoyances that could come with the great stuff on your vacation, but you’re probably choosing to focus on the things you plan to enjoy.  If you’re getting on an airplane to go on your vacation, you’re probably not spending all of your time thinking, “Well, the plane might crash, and that might suck.”  But of course if you ARE worried about the plane crashing, you’re probably dealing with that fear in some reasonably productive way.  Because you’ve decided that you want to go on vacation, so you don’t want to let anything get tin the way of that.  

You have the power to do this kind of thing in other areas of your life, too.

It sounds simple, and it is, but we so often forget that our power to focus is a superpower.  What we focus on MATTERS.  If we focus on what we don’t like about any situation in life, we’re going to have a very different experience of that situation than we will if we focus on what we DO like about that situation.  No matter how badly you might want to go on vacation, you could still go and have a really bad time, if you wanted to.  If you want to look for things you dislike about the experience, you will quite likely find things to dislike.  If you focus on everything you dislike about the experience, you will probably not have a great time at all.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that it’s a problem to acknowledge things we dislike in life.  I think it’s very important to acknowledge what we don’t like.  But there’s a difference between identifying what we dislike and doing something about it, indulging in fixating on things we don’t like because that’s just where our minds want to go.

So quite simply, what you have the option to do is decide that you’re going to make a choice about what you’re going to do with your infidelity situation, and then commit to making the best of that choice by focusing on what is great about living in your decision, and dealing with the not-so-great stuff without making that stuff mean that you made the wrong decision.

And when you do this ahead of time, meaning, when you do this as you are making a decision, it can be SO powerful.  You can decide in advance that you have the power to make a choice for reasons you feel great about, and that you have the power to make living in that choice great – and then you can prove yourself right.  And that’s pretty amazing.

So what is going to be great about the choice you’re making?  What’s going to be great about pursuing that option?  Get as specific as you can, and start enjoying how great that’s going to be NOW.  And as you live into your decisions, commit to focusing on what you know you’re going to love about doing so.  

And then do that again.  Again and again and again.

So often, we think that we think that our enjoyment of our life circumstances is beyond our control.  We sort of think that if we like something, or we like a particular situation or set of circumstances, that’s just sort of happened to us.  But that’s not exactly what’s going on.  We’re either consciously or unconsciously choosing to enjoy and appreciate our lives, or a certain aspect of our lives.  And choosing to do this unconsciously is fine, but when we use the power we have to appreciate things on purpose, we can consciously and deliberately enjoy our experience of being alive.  And this is a pretty great thing to get in the habit of doing.

Choosing to focus on what we enjoy and appreciate about living in the context of a decision we’ve made doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily ignoring or minimizing the aspects of our decisions that we aren’t all that enthusiastic about.  But choosing to focus on what we DO like helps put the things we DON’T like into perspective.  We can remind ourselves that we made a decision in order to give ourselves the opportunity to pursue certain things, and we can remind ourselves why it was and is important to us to pursue those things.  AND, we can deal with the things we don’t love about living in our decision, or decisions, in a way that serves us well, AND we can always choose again.  

I’ll say more about those last two points in a little bit.  

But first I’m going to talk about how we can love our decisions and make the best of choices we’ve made even if we did not make our decision very systematically.  

Let’s say you were married, and you got involved with someone else rather suddenly, and before you had a chance to make sense of your situation, your spouse found out about what you were doing, and they basically told you, “Look, it’s me or them, and you need to decide right now.”  And let’s say you chose “them,” meaning, you chose to pursue the relationship with your new paramour, and you chose to leave your marriage.  And maybe this all happened REALLY FAST, and you made some pretty major life decisions in a few weeks or months – and rather suddenly, your life changed in some pretty significant ways.  And then, some time passes, and the dust settles a little bit, and you start to get used to living your new life, and then you kind of go, oh my god, what have I done?  Did I do the right thing?  All of that happened so fast!  What was I thinking?

Here's the thing.  When life changes quickly, whether through choices we’ve made or not, it’s not unreasonable to experience a little whiplash, shall we say.  Especially if we’ve been living a certain way for a long time, and all of that changes in a short period of time, it’s not unreasonable for us to freak out a little bit over the unfamiliarity of our new circumstances.  When things are different, it’s not unreasonable to find them a little strange.  But so often, we make it mean that there’s a problem when we experience something to be strange.  We don’t have to do that, though.  We can understand strangeness as a component of unfamiliarity.  And unfamiliarity is, pretty much by definition, a component of new experiences – even new experiences that we already know we really like, and of new experiences that we might want to give ourselves a chance to explore and enjoy.

So the first thing I encourage you to do if you’ve made a big decision and you’re not sure whether you like it or not is recognize that the strangeness or unfamiliarity of your new circumstances does not mean that you “made the wrong choice.”  Even if there were such a thing as a wrong choice.

The second thing I want you to consider is that you have the opportunity to actually answer one of the questions you might already be asking yourself, which I posed a moment ago – and that’s the question of, “What was I thinking?”  It’s actually a good question to ask yourself IF you plan on answering it.  It’s not a good question to ask yourself if you don’t plan on answering it, and instead just keep asking it over and over again.

So let’s go back to the example I just mentioned, in which the hypothetical you was married, and you got involved with someone else, and before you had a chance to even consider carefully considering what was going on in your infidelity situation, before you had a chance to even think about making a systematic decision about what you wanted to do, you got busted.  And then your spouse told you you had to make a choice, and you decided to leave your marriage and pursue a relationship with your affair partner, or the person who you might not have even really begun to think of as your affair partner quite yet!

What might you have been thinking when you made that quick decision?  I can tell you what some folks were thinking when they were in that kind of a situation.  Some folks think to themselves, “I know I’m not happy in my marriage.  I know I haven’t been happy for a long time.  I know I’m happy with this other person I’ve gotten involved with – like, REALLY happy.  And I know that I want more of this kind of happiness in my life.  And I think life’s too short not to go for this, and pursue this kind of experience.”

It's important to get as clear as you can on what exactly you were thinking when you made the decision and allow yourself to see the legitimacy in what you were thinking then.  Whatever may have happened since making your quick decision to leave your marriage and pursue your other relationship, your reasons for making that decision when you did may have been totally legitimate for you at the time – EVEN IF YOU CAME TO YOUR REASONING PRETTY QUICKLY.  And moreover, the reasons why you made your decision may STILL be reasons that you consider legitimate.  Wanting to leave a relationship you weren’t happy with is legitimate.  Wanting to pursue a relationship you enjoy is legitimate.  You can decide to recognize the legitimacy of what you were thinking, and you can decide to believe that you made the best decision you could at the time you made it.  Now, let me be clear that that’s a choice.  You could also choose to see your reasons for making a decision as irrational, or not good enough, or NOT legitimate.  And a lot of us default to this kind of thinking.  Instead of choosing to view our decisions as legitimate, we default to second-guessing ourselves, or doubting ourselves.  And I want to suggest that this isn’t very helpful, especially if we are talking about a decision THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE.  

What could you possibly get out of questioning a decision you’ve already made, or beating yourself up for either a choice you’ve made, or the process by which you made it?  Not much, is usually the answer.  Not much of anything great, anyway.  

Sometimes when we make a big decision we feel some doubt, and sometimes we let our doubt get in the way of recognizing the certainty we do feel.  And what I encourage you to do is to allow yourself to focus on what you are certain of.  Why was it legitimate for you to have made the decision you did?  What do you LIKE about the decision, now that you’re living in it?  Again, to echo something I’ve already said, thinking this way doesn’t mean you IGNORE your doubts or concerns or dislikes.  But you probably don’t want to dwell in your doubts, and if you don’t, you may have to actively manage your mind to stay focused on other things.  For many of us, our minds love to indulge in doubting.  That is definitely a Thing, and it’s a very human Thing, but you don’t have to STAY in that mode of thinking.  

So again, if you want to love a decision that you have already made, you can recognize that you probably made your choice for reasons that were pretty good at the time.  You can allow yourself to see the logic in what you were thinking at the time.  You can understand why you choose what you did at the time, even if you wouldn’t necessarily make the same choices that you did at the time.

Now here’s another thing I want you to consider.  What if it’s possible that you would have made exactly the same choices that you did, even if you made those choices in a different way, or through a different decision-making process?  Sometimes people say things like, “Well, I’m not sorry that I left my marriage, but I wish I hadn’t left it so hastily,” or “I wish I had done a few more things before I made my final decision.”  One of the problems with this kind of thinking is that it keeps us focused on things we have no power over – namely, things that have already happened.  But the other problem with this kind of thinking is that it contains the assumption that we might have made a different choice if we’d approached our decision differently – and we might not have!  This way of thinking also contains the assumption that a different choice might have been better for us – and this is both an assumption, and an unhelpful one.  Instead of worrying about what’s already happened, why not start making the best of the choices you’ve made in the present?

Right now, this very moment, you have the capacity to direct your focus to what is AWESOME about your current experience.  You have the capacity to love things about your current experience, including the aspects of your current experience that are a direct result of decisions you’ve made.  Why not try that out?

Now, it IS entirely possible that even when you do this, even when you commit to making the best of a decision, you still don’t like it very much.  And that’s okay.  Loving your decisions doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them forever.  Making the best of your decisions doesn’t mean you commit to sticking with choices you don’t like.  But it’s hard to get clear on which decisions we want to stick with and which we don’t want to stick with when we don’t look for what’s great about living out the choices we’ve made.  If we’re continuously focused on what’s wrong, we’re never going to find satisfaction.  

So in conclusion, as you commit to loving your choices, it’s important to remember that one choice, or one set of choices, never dooms us for good.  We can always choose again, and again, and again.  But there’s a difference between choosing again from the standpoint that you made a “bad decision” and you need to fix things, and from the standpoint that you’re making choices as best as you can, and you’re refining your sense of what you want, and bolstering your capacity to go after what you want, as you do so.

All right everyone, that’s it for today.  If you would like my help making choices in regards to your infidelity situation for reasons that you like, and committing to making the best of your decisions, let’s work together.  It is one thing to hear me talk about this stuff on the podcast, and it’s another thing entirely to make USE of what I talk about in your own life.  And one of the great reasons to work with me is to have my help applying helpful tools and concepts to the specifics of your infidelity situation.  When you’re ready to work with me, you can schedule an introductory coaching session through my website, mariemurphyphd.com.  I offer compassionate, confidential coaching via Zoom, which means we can work together no matter where you’re located.  I can’t wait to meet you.

Before I wish you a great week and say bye for now, I want to remind you that you can submit a question for my ask me anything podcast episode through my website, mariemurphyphd.com.  Just click on the contact tab at the top right hand corner of the home page and submit your question using the contact form.  If I answer your question on an episode, I will not associate your name with the question.  And with that, I wish you all a great week.  Bye for now.

Ready to talk?

Schedule your introductory coaching session with Marie.

Schedule Your Introductory Session

Want the answers to your questions?

Sign up to get the free guide to the podcast, which shares the exact episodes you need to tune into to get started answering the questions you have about your infidelity situation.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.