What do you think?
By: Christy Aloisio
June 16, 2010


Well, I have this problem and was wondering, what would you do? Can you believe he acted like that, what should I do about that? I don’t want to leave her, but she is just not doing the work, where should I go from here?

Does this sound like you? Always questioning what road you should travel, how you should respond, where your life should go from here. I like to call it polling. Asking around and going with majority rule. You may be doing this without even realizing it. It stems from insecurity, not trusting your own judgment, and wondering what others will think and feel about your decision. It is being too other centered and being concerned with how your decision will affect everyone around you, such as your spouse, children, parents, and friends. You are putting their feelings above your own.

Polling can take shape in many different forms. The most obvious form of polling is simply asking family, friends, or coworkers what they would do if they were in your situation and generally acting on the answer most often given. The issue with the “friends” polling is that no one else is in your situation. No one else is married to your spouse, and people can say all they want that they wouldn’t do something or act in a certain way if it happened to them, but the truth of the matter is you can never know how you are going to act in a certain situation until you have walked that path. These perspectives are outside perspectives and not from your point of view. Also, again you are not trusting what you are feeling in your heart and with your recovery to trust what decision you feel is best for you.

There is also “research” polling. I recently had a client who is struggling with the thought of divorce because her husband possibly has a personality disorder, and her children are holding her back. She struggles with whether divorce would be the best option for them. So, she looked on the internet and found a ton of research on how divorcing a spouse with a personality disorder is better for the children twhat-do-you-think-2han staying in the marriage to try to make her decision. Now, I am not saying anything negative about research. Research can be a wonderful tool to learn about new ways to work on your issues and to understand how issues can affect you. But, you have to be careful with research. First of all there is good research and bad research out there (especially on the internet). Also, again what is good for the goose may not be good for the gander. Every situation is much different, every parent and child is different and again the choice you make has to be what is best for you! We are not secure with our own decision making so we try to let research make the very important decision for us instead of basing it on our recovery.

Another type of polling is the “therapist” polling. As therapists we are guides, not advise givers. Therapists need to look at the options with you and assist you in exploring your feelings on each of them. We are not here to tell you which option is best for you. Why? Again we are not you! We have not walked in your shoes and you must create and travel your own journey. So this type of polling includes asking your therapist what option seems best, and sometimes even asking other therapists that you know the same question, again to try to determine which way to go.

So what do I do with this new information? Well first, stop polling. Second you need to do some major deep processing on why you feel as if your decision is not good enough and you have to rely on the advice of others. Did you parents not trust you to make decisions? Did they constantly question choices you made? You don’t trust yourself, you don’t think you could possibly be powerful or strong enough to know which way is the best for you. Well I am here to tell you, you do know! You have been trained since a child to feel inadequate in decision making and that is what you need to work on. Polling others, research, or therapists is a waste of time and energy. Spend this time processing what it is about you, that makes it so difficult decide the path of your own journey!