The hardest part about living, for me, is when I am in a ‘forced choice’ situation where all my choices are potentially or definitely hurtful for someone I care about. It gets extra hard when some subset of those choices are things I very much want to do.
Usually in this situation I do everything I can to defer my choices; often life is kind enough to simplify the problem for me if I just wait long enough.
If I can’t do that, I generally pick the most “critical” choice. When I was younger, and life was harder, the critical choice was often something as obvious as the one that would provide food or shelter. I’m not living that way any more, and so my forced choice scenarios have stopped being so clear cut- usually what’s on the line is someone’s emotional state or desires.
If anything, the reduced severity for me makes it harder to decide. It is especially complicated when other parties have more at stake than I do. On the face of it, the fact that the situation isn’t utterly critical for me suggests that I pick the choice that hurts me in favor of those I care about, yet I’ve learned over the years that repeatedly picking the self-abnegating choice eventually leads me with nothing to give, emotionally or productively. Plus, my well being isn’t just mine any more.
Since the forced choice invariably involves putting someone out, it creates this “Rob Peter to pay Paul” factor; who among the parties is it “best” to put the hurt on? Again, when I was younger, my solutions to this usually involved blowing the whole situation up and starting over. Not really a place I’m interested in going these days.
I generally hedge things somehow- I do something extra to ameliorate the bad fallout – but sometimes no matter how I spin it there’s no silver lining or silk purse in the situation, and I just have to stick it to someone.