Make Good Choices
Updated: Jun 21
For so much of my life I have lived by the mantra “Make Good Choices.” When I was in college one of my favorite hall directors used to say it all the time. Whenever people were going out or even just when we were in hall council meetings. She didn’t expect us to be perfect, and she never punished us or made us feel bad if we made mistakes. It was just a reminder to think before we acted, not to be impulsive, because we knew what was right and what wasn’t and had the power to make good choices.
For most people at college, “Make Good Choices” mostly meant not to go out and get drunk if they are underage. Not to bring alcohol back into the residence hall. To get a designated driver when they did get drunk. To refrain from using marijuana (it was illegal back then) or any other drug that they might be offered. To just, in general, keep themselves safe and out of trouble.
For me, “Make Good Choices” was completely different. I didn’t drink or do drugs, I was absolutely a rule follower, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t make poor choices. For me it was about sleeping more than 4 minutes a night (for some reason this was a goal for myself). Not sleeping outside in the freezing cold because I thought it would end hunger and homelessness. Not getting myself involved in so many student organizations and trying to get leadership positions in each of them until I ran myself into the ground. Not walking around campus by myself late at night…I’m not really sure why. It meant to stop beating myself with a hammer because I thought I was such a failure. It meant so much at the time because I made a lot of choices that were not helpful to myself, and it helped me to slow down and think it through.
Now that I am an adult, I still think about making good choices. Good choices for mania include listening to my support team because I can’t usually tell I’m manic. It means putting everything I want to buy in my Amazon shopping cart instead of impulsively buying it so that I can go over with someone who is trusted, the things I want to buy and decide which ones are reasonable. It means giving up the keys to my car so that I don’t try and drive unsafely. It means listening to my doctor and taking extra medication so that I can sleep, even when it doesn’t make sense to me. It means realizing that even though I feel really good, I’m making the other people around me miserable.
I have different good choices for a depression. When I am severely depressed, it’s important that I stay in contact with my support team and be honest with them. It means handing over my box of medication and the blade in my blender. It means that if my team decides that I need to go to the hospital that I remember that it is a tool and not a punishment. I should ask for extra counseling or an emergency appointment with my psychiatrist.
Finally, I think about making good choices when I am trying to gain independence. First of all, I need to communicate with my support team exactly what I need – coaching, support, actual help with the physical skills. I need to do everything that I possibly can, even if it is difficult, and even if it takes several days when it takes other people 15 minutes. It means treating myself with self-compassion and kindness instead of punishing myself for everything I do “wrong”.
The idea of making good choices reminds me of a huge support in college and helps me remember to limit my impulsivity. I try to remember that “make good choices” isn’t as black and white as it seems. It isn’t right or wrong, it’s weighing the consequences and choosing the best option for me.
All of this comes down to one big question, why am I telling you all of this? Well, that is because I think that every person can benefit from the idea of making good choices. Especially if you are an impulsive kind of person, take a moment before you make a decision to make sure that it is a wise decision. “Make good choices” has helped me so much over the last twenty years, and I know it can help you, too!