Clean Living

By: Michelle Horton

Michelle Horton is a New York based writer who has lived with addiction in her family and marriage. She's been published in a variety of publications (CNN,, Self magazine,, and founded, an award-winning site for young moms, where this essay first appeared. 


Four questions for making tough decisions

(not rated)

Sep 19, 2014

If you've ever been stuck in a hard place, wondering the right thing or the best thing to do, it helps to shift perspectives.

I'm especially talking to those who have a hard time taking care of themselves — perhaps those who devote their time to tiny people with tiny needs, and feel a real loss of identity. It can be hard to know the best thing to do for you, outside of your responsibilities as a spouse and parent.

And by you I mean me, because this has pretty much been my life lately. Wrestling with hard choices, trying to find my own needs, defining my boundaries in marriage and life. These all require me to look at my life from a zoomed-out lens — you know, the whole forest-for-the-trees thing.

But it doesn't have to be tough marriage challenges. It might be career dilemmas, toxic friendships, difficulty deciding on a career and planning a future. Anything that leaves us at the end of one rope, wondering if we need to swing to a different one, and in which direction?  HELP.

Here are four questions that I ask myself to motivate an honest, loving decision from a shifted perspective:

What advice would I give to someone I love?

In an ideal world of healthy minds and open hearts, we would love ourselves as much as we love our children, our partners, or anyone else in our lives. But if the self-love stuff feels counter-intuitive, try looking at the situation from a different view:

What if someone I love was in this situation — like my brother, or my best friend, or my mother?

Would I want that person to be in this situation?

What advice would I have for her?

What would I want my children to do?

For me, it's especially obvious when I look through a motherly lens. My son is watching me, absorbing my behaviors and choices as his "normal" programming. What kind of example do I want to set? What would I want my son to do in this situation?

When I can think, "What would I want Noah to do," I can clearly see how to practice what I preach and be my best self.

If I were the lead character in a story, what would that character do?

If your life was a book or movie, and you were watching it play out as an observer, what would your character do next? Your life is a mess and you've been sideswiped by challenges and obstacles (like pretty much any character) — so now what?

What makes a better story? A story you'd be proud to tell others? What would the hero — or a strong, brave, interesting heroine — do in your situation?

What's the next chapter?

Are you making this choice out of LOVE or FEAR?

Dig. Analyze. The answer might surprise you.

“The heart is like a garden: It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?” —    Jack Kornfield

Are you focused on what you'll gain or what you'll lose?

Are you motivated by inspiration of possibilities, or by fear of the unknown? Fear of change? Fear of failure?

Are you staying in a relationship out of love for your partner/child/self, or for fear of letting go?

(This is a good question to ask in quiet meditation.)

Love moves us forward, and fills up our hearts. Fear keeps us stagnant and unhappy.


That's not to say these questions make the hard choices easy, or that you’ll immediately know what to do. But in ever so slightly shifting our perspectives, we can start moving in one direction or the other.


No comments have been posted to this BlogPost

Rate this BlogPost:

2000 characters left


Advertise with Renew

Renew Your life, Better