The Battle of Hesitation

“To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it.” ~Bertrand Russel

Confidence to act is among the greatest asset one can have in life. Without out it, the greatest leaders in history would be nothing more than men and women with great ideas and unrealized potential. On a more micro level, those who hesitate usually miss out on realizing there personal and professional aspirations. Whether it be getting that huge promotion, or ending up with the girl of your dreams, restraint often leads to failure. Just ask Mace Windu. So why then do we hesitate?

Fear is a powerful force. Deciding to invade a country, ask for a promotion, or telling someone how you feel about them have one thing in common. Uncertainty. There is no way to know how one’s actions are going to turn out. Sure you could end up on your desired path, but you could just as easily end up with a result you were hoping to avoid and this can be frightening.  As the above quote illustrates, a lack of certainty and the fear of what might happen can be paralyzing. While in most cases we can overcome this, its very existence causes us to hesitate. Which I suppose is better than having it becoming an all-consuming entity bent on destroying the universe.

Acting requires confrontation. Little can be accomplished in life without some type of confrontation. Be it more abstract concepts like ideas or the more concrete obstacles like dealing with those who disagree with our actions, there is always someone or something that must be faced down. For many of us, this is not an exciting proposition. So we hesitate, hoping if we hold off long enough the crisis will be averted. However, as someone who is a master of conflict avoidance, I can tell you, rarely does hesitation prevent things from eventually coming to a head. In fact, in many cases it just turns what would have been a small conflict into an epic battle of the ages.

Sometimes restraint is necessary. While in many cases, holding back is detrimental, sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing. This is especially true when it comes to the realm of emotion. Anger for example, can cause us to do crazy things. Sometimes rather than immediately going into attack mode when someone makes incendiary comments that steps on our ideals and beliefs, its wiser to restrain our immediate reactions and approach the situation once we have a chance to cool down. Does this mean we should always avoid acting on our emotions? No, but it does mean sometimes its wise to take a moment and consider the consequences.

In the game of life there are plenty of opportunities for hesitation. In most cases it’s the easier route to take. Doing so can protect us from fear and confrontation and prevent us from making poor decisions. While occasionally restraint is the right course of action, more often than not, it prevents us from reaching our full potential. In life, love, and politics we can not sit on the sidelines, constantly waiting for the right moment. Instead, it is imperative we seize the day lest we wake up one day looking back on a life of missed opportunities and broken dreams.

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