Sometimes clients come into therapy because they are in the grip of a dilemma. Should I stay in my current relationship or not? Should I find a new job or stay in my current one? Should we have a child or not? The to and fro of these apparently binary decisions can be really painful. Oftentimes neither option seems perfect, or both seem equally attractive for different reasons, and then what?
When we do not feel we have a choice, we are stuck. When we believe there are only two choices available to us, we have a dilemma. It is not until there are at least three options on the table that the beginnings of choice and freedom emerge.
When a dilemma is in the air, there is often more information that can be uncovered that adds nuance to the situation. For example, if a relationship is not working the way it is now, along with the stay or go choices, there may be options to evolve the relationship and work on new ways of being together, creating a different future. Likewise for other dilemmas, there are most often new ways of relating to things that can bring a feeling of being alive into what currently feels lifeless.
If you are flip flopping between two potential choices in a should I - shouldn't I way, why not ask yourself what else is possible? If you step back, what else might you do. Asking what someone else would do in this situation, what a fly on the wall would see, or thinking about what advice you would give if this was someone else can help to bring new information into your system to loosen you up.
We may not always have loads of choices about what happens around us, but we do have more influence than sometimes we realise about HOW things happen, and how we experience things. It is here that our route out of painful dilemmas lies.