I’ve never considered myself a fatalist, generally believing that it is in our power to change things for ourselves, for better or for worse. Life is in our hands to shape as we will!
But recently these things have become less cut and dried, and perhaps having a certain span of life to look back on helps in that regard.
I mentioned in a recent interview, how Lee and I met. An almost improbable series of events, which led both of us to the same place at the same time. And, after 17 years of working together, imagining where my life would be if we hadn’t, is a complete impossibility. Probably for both of us.
At the time it seemed barely significant, and only through the lens of time has it become so. Similarly with other pivotal moments in life. The most important of these are few and can only be appreciated with hindsight.
For most those significant events would include meeting their wives/husbands. And even where partners don’t last a lifetime, they cause effects which reverberate in life changing ways. Some people may wish that certain things had never happened and how much better life would have been if they hadn’t. But of course things may have turned out even worse.
Our lives are ultimately shaped by our choices, of which we make thousands every day – what to eat, wear, say, do. A simple decision to make a cup of tea could result in a fall down some stairs. Wearing those impossible shoes could result in anything from meeting a new man, a blister or a broken ankle.
There has been a spate of studies regarding decision making of late, and the results have been interesting. Being a very logical person, I assumed that that would automatically make me a good decision maker. Not necessarily so according to research! Choices without emotion tend to be poor. Studies on people who lacked emotions showed this clearly and often the best decision makers had very good instincts and emotional intelligence. Hmmm – well that’s me shot down in flames.
I realise that I made some exceptionally poor decisions as a teenager – I started smoking, drank, took drugs and had liaisons that were extremely ill advised. I’ve managed to redress most of these (just the smoking…). I put it down to a rubbish childhood. But it does make sense that if good decision making relies on emotional stability and maturity, then childhood trauma is bound to affect it negatively. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it, gov.
Another interesting conclusion is that expectations affect decision making and various studies bear this out. If your expectations are low, you are more likely to accept something that isn’t all that great. Hence people who have grown up with educational and financial priviledges get more out of life in general. They simply won’t accept anything less. Similarly people from a broken home or who were brought up with a lack of affection often have bad relationships. It’s an expectation and self-fulfilling prophesy. Oh dear – there’s no hope for me.
One thing in my favour is the study which shows that collective decision making is inferior to individual instinct. I’ve always been a bit of a lone wolf and genuinely don’t give a hoot what most other people think, hence I don’t consult them. I do talk difficult decisions, or decisions which affect more than just myself, through with 1 or 2 trusted individuals. Though I think even they realise that it’s generally after I’ve already made a decision and I just want to talk through my decision making process in order to get validation and agreement. Well that’s one for me then.
All this said, fatalism is still an unprovable concept. You could say that your fate is essentially shaped by luck and your decision making, which in turn is shaped by your brain – intelligence, emotions, personality – and your experiences which in turn dictate your self-belief and expectations. Is any of this in our control? Not really I fear. So, in this perpetual butterfly effect world, and the potential convergent realities each decision makes, could our lives be preordained? Perhaps one of those quantum computer thingies will find the answer…
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