I looked up conundrum in the dictionary and it is defined as “an intricate and difficult problem having only a conjectural answer”. So basically it is like being presented with a problem that can be solved in a few different ways, none of which are clearly the best, and all of which can only be verified by making a guess. I have always associated the word with the idea of having to decide between two choices each of which has properties that overrule or negate the properties of the other. Therefore, the choice cannot be made without sacrificing. It is like making a long list of pros vs cons, and when you are finished you realize that every single pro has a corresponding con, and vice versa.
So, then what do we do?
From personal experience, I can tell you my first step is to complain about the fact that I can never get what I truly want without sacrificing. It is the “woe is me” procedure, which is really a ploy to procrastinate in disguise. Forget the fact that this is a scary, potentially life-altering choice I am considering, because the real tragedy is how much the universe has wronged me.
Next I’ll usually move into feeling bad for expecting things to be handed to me without being willing to sacrifice or compromise. It’s the “first world problem” stage. I’m a horrible person. I don’t deserve a good outcome. I shouldn’t even be allowed to have choices. More stalling.
And then the fun begins. This sets off a whole period of analysis, which I like to call “brain noise”. I will take the conundrum and spin it around in my head in every conceivable direction I can think of. The two column list of pros and cons turns into a multidimensional matrix of “what ifs” and permutations of an exponentially growing amount of cause and effect pairings. Of course, I’ll be going over the exact same amount of supporting data that I had previously when I arrived at the conclusion that there was no satisfactory answer.
So the “paring down” kicks off. What can I take out of the equation to make the decision simpler? Essentially, what am I willing to forego? Again, I have to consider every single fact and possibility in order to decide what gets cut. And as the slicing proceeds, I find myself subtracting things I previously thought were imperative, and adding back things I just gave up a few minutes ago. More “brain noise”.
Once that proves futile, I move on to the “nothing” phase. Yep, that’s right, I do nothing. I have reached what I believe is the only conclusion that makes sense: that is to NOT choose. I envision myself taking one of the paths and quickly write it off as unacceptable. Then I sample the other and similarly dismiss it. So logically, there is no solution. I’m saved; I don’t have to make that tough decision after all.
The only problem with that is the fact that the time will invariably arrive when the decision must without a doubt be made. It was a difficult and problematic choice with no obviously good direction, which one hundred percent of the time means it is absolutely necessary to select. This is the “duress” stage.
Now I’m scrambling. What were the choices again? What were my issues? Why couldn’t I pick? What happens if I opt for “A” instead of “B”? I can’t remember, but there were so many words and thoughts before; and so much information that I now no longer have time to review. It’s “put up or shut up” time. So I do it. I make my stand, and I immediately slip into “Buyer’s Remorse” mode. Did I make the right choice? Did I do the right thing? Will it be ok? Will it make me happy?
It’s getting noisy in here again.
Finally, here comes the really Krazy part:
The answer to all of the remorse questions is yes. It is yes, because it has to be, and because I will make it that way. It WAS the right choice, and it WILL be ok. I knew all along what I was going to do before I did it. I made my decision before even the first phase began. It turns out the torture that followed is my process! It is what I NEED to do, what I always do, and what, in the end works for me. Without “woe is me”, “first world problem”, “brain noise”, “paring down”, “nothing”, “duress”, “buyers remorse”, and the final “Krazy” part, nothing makes sense. Conundrum or not, the real victory is in making the decision, believing that either way, I can handle the outcome.