Is decisiveness nature or nurture?

Is decisiveness a gene – like height and eye colour and I’m just recessive in this respect?

I often wonder what I was like as a child in terms of decision making. The narrative around me as a child (from my siblings and parents) was that I was bossy. I was the youngest, I was confident, I was supposedly dad’s favourite – I remember sitting on his lap driving the car, (a few years before the pressure to ‘clunk and click’ your seatbelts on every trip) but I don’t think he was around that much. I also remember throwing a few strops. The best one I can remember was arguing with my sister (we always did) and then going upstairs and trashing her room – I can see that was not good behavior, but it also makes me smile a bit, I also remember slamming doors and on one holiday when I felt I was being left out I locked the door on our joint bedroom and fell deeply asleep so the others could not get in; in the end they had to climb through the window. I don’t think I was a spoilt brat – I really don’t ….

I also remember at one point hearing my aunt refer to me as ‘a right little madam’ and that hurt, it hurt deeply, and my response was, an ‘I’ll show them’ attitude. How I ‘showed them’ I now recognise is part of an unhealthy occasional pattern in my life. ‘I”ll show them’, translated into starting to withdraw. I can see now that when I feel misunderstood by those I love and care for, I start to retreat. I felt unfairly labelled and the way I would ‘show them’ was by going quiet, by withdrawing, by not asking and not engaging and all my focus moved to my friends. I’ve always had great friends.

I know my parents loved me; I have never doubted this. But as the youngest of four in a crazy busy house, where I seemed to be ‘ok’ relative to my brother, who was always in trouble, my elder sister deal who was grappling with being a teen mum, another sister who struggled with friendships and felt bullied. In this cacophony of needs and problems being quiet was good, so I was often left to my own devices.

Then when I turned 11 there were four generations living in the same house – my ailing grandma, my sister and her baby – my mum was stretched beyond belief.

So I became incredibly self-sufficient. I loved learning and loved school and I did well there, I liked running and exercise. I didn’t ask for anything I slotted in and built my life around the ‘rest of them.’ The only thing I asked for was clothes. I loved to dress up, so did my mum and we would shop together, they were special times.

I began to spend a lot of time in my room, I would write, draw and do yoga – I was an early yoga adopter, my mum had a great book on yoga, I would look at and copy the poses, I was very practical. I think, and hope I still have that book.

I have this theory that as I felt slightly ‘out of the picture’ and felt I needed to be relatively ‘silent and undemanding’ I began to suppress some of my nature during these formative years. I didn’t learn how to tap into new thinking, or inner desires. I think I metaphorically ‘shoved a lot of me back deep down inside me’ co-incidentally this was the same time as I began to develop eating issues and stomach problems.

My Uni choice was random, I had no idea what I really wanted and no one to guide me. I started a pattern of making personal choices by ‘moving away’ from things or falling into them, rather than goal setting and go getting. Reflecting now – I’m not sure I’ve ever set a goal for me in my whole life?! Wow I’ve had to pause after that, as its true….

Without realizing it perhaps I’ve had a rather stoic approach, as my attachment to anything (apart from to my kids) is low. In the workplace I have a reputation for playing devil’s advocate – suggesting different ideas / approaches and being able to advocate very well for whatever it is, but rarely ever wedded to one particular route.

Then in my marriage my husband always made the big decisions ……………

Now I’m at a stage in my life when I have only me to think about on a day-to-day basis, where I have so much freedom and so many options, the world is my oyster and it’s time to live those dreams… but I’m not sure if I have any (perhaps just one – which I need to come back to)

This post wasn’t intended to be a sad one but stopping now perhaps it is. Is it sad to live day by day and have no goals or dreams, does that mean I’m more living in the moment?

I’m at a point in my life where I need to make some decisions but finding it sooo hard…. do I stick with my happenstance approach and see what evolves or do I try and work through this – I can’t decide :). Or perhaps I should explore that inkling of a dream – which is to live by the sea…..

How do you make decisions?

2 thoughts on “Is decisiveness nature or nurture?”

  1. Decisions and behavior are related. I too gravitate to the devil’s advocate. So much so Ive been told I am combative. I say, how do I know your are right – prove it. Now, in the middle of middle age I’ve gained an appreciation for dreams, and desires vs responsabilities which I think I hear on your post. I have decided, on my last day you will not hear me say, “I wish I worked more.” I now try to balance enjoyment with dreams with responsabilities. Doing my best to avoid: “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy” Don’t be afraid to take chances.

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  2. Thanks Danny, that’s an interesting perspective re ‘responsibilities’. I will look at it again through this lens. I am certainly getting a lot better at ‘prioritizing fun’ …
    I’ve taken a big step change in work which perhaps is not quite working out as I’d hoped, but I need to be careful that any change moves me nearer to where I want to be rather than back to where I was (comfortable as elements of that may seem)

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