SECOND thoughts are difficult to deal with.
But it’s the third, fourth, fifth and 60th that really test your patience when you’ve got a big call that requires lengthy painful consideration.
Many people call it ‘‘procrastinating’’ and most students of Hamlet will tell you that’s bad.
Better to strike out with a flourish than sit and stew. Drive off a cliff. Charge into a machine-gun nest. Sack Ken Gouldthorp.
Just don’t strike out.
Unfortunately it’s never that simple at ground level, unless you’re Newcastle City Council. Many factors come into play.
Take this striking metaphor to illustrate the point.
You’re hungry, so you ask yourself: Burger with fries? Or thickshake? Or both? Or should you go Chinese?
The mental process of choosing what to eat is potentially bad for you. But quite possibly what you’re eating is worse?
Case closed. I can’t make it any clearer than that.
Finding win-wins is the challenge.
Often it seems more a case of draw-draw, or, at best, break even-suck it up.
We all have things we have to work out.
And indeed, if you’re struggling, sometimes a good work-out can help work out what you’re trying to work out.
At least out of the system.
Nothing makes forgetting about a problem easier than pure physical exhaustion.
In the short term.
Unfortunately the problem tends to comes back as soon as you regain consciousness.
Worse still if you dream about the problem while unconscious.
Something many a section editor at a newspaper would understand.
Not exactly what I’d call dreaming, actually. I’d probably call it fretting, or fitfully tossing and turning, or groaning repeatedly in the middle of the night.
And so would my partner.
To dream about problems in your sleep is plainly not fair. But that’s another feature of second thoughts. Total lack of fairness.
Mainly to whoever you’re keeping awake.
Just when you thought it couldn’t go any lower during the day, you’re up all night.
Hello ceiling my old friend.
Mulling things over can be very annoying.
Not only for you but the person waiting on the decision.
Chances are that person will be a loved one who’ll tell you they don’t care what you decide, just as long as you’re happy.
Ironic really, because what you decide may well impact on their on their happiness. Thus creating an annoying loop, emphasis on the word ‘‘loop’’.
Cool dude Bobby McFerrin once said don’t worry, be happy.
But contrary to what Pharrell Williams preaches in his exploration of that concept, happiness is not like a room without a roof.
Happiness in relation to making big decisions is actually a relative concept measured by the degree of how unhappy one option might make you feel, compared to another.
(I believe that version of the chorus was in the first draft of Pharrell’s catchy hit tune, before he fired his lyricist for rambling on.)
Which is never reassuring when you have to make a big decision. And I don’t mean about sacking your lyricist.
I’m talking about pondering decisions in terms of what makes you least unhappy.
Living without a roof certainly isn’t a good start, and therefore I cannot clap along.
A room without a roof traditionally leaves people feeling exposed and quite possibly fearing they may ruin their lives and those who depend on them.
One of the great triggers for second thoughts.
Of course it’s usually never that serious.
It just seems worse at the time. Second thoughts have a tendency of going viral that way. Doubt starts trending.
Before you know it you’re reaching for the Dislike button. If only Facebook would install it. Having options is good, but sometimes, like under Joseph Stalin, no choice is simpler.
Actually I’m not sure anyone used to say that, but Joe was happy to oblige.
He certainly inspired a lot of great novels with his purges. A true patron of the arts in that perverse respect.
A bit like Ken Gouldthorp, if you listen to the critics. Alas, Ken was purged in an exemplary display of Newcastle City Council decisiveness.
No evidence of second thoughts there.
Live by the sword, prosper by the court case. All well and good if you don’t have to pay, which I’m sure Save Our Rail is pondering right now.
Free will, and inner city rail, may well be a figment of the imagination, but $800,000 in court costs has some genuine reality-based implications.
And that’s something you should never lose sight of when dealing with second thoughts. Unless you’re a lawyer.
To move forward you have to control the things you can, and let go of things you can’t.
And that’s great if you control a sledgehammer as Mike Baird did with Old Testament resolve.
It’ll certainly give other community groups second thoughts about getting in the way of destiny.
Ultimately, when it comes to second thoughts, the key is to commit. The trick is to make sure they don’t throw away the key.