Be gone 'Commitment-Phobe'

I have been making – what feels like – an onslaught of decisions lately which have really questioned a held assumption about myself. That I am a ‘commitment-phobe’.

I’m not talking about commitment to a career or a relationships or which NRL team to support. My phobia of commitment is around decisions. I am scared of making the wrong decision, and I’m particularly terrified if that decision is one I’m going to have to live with for a while.

Commitment – to a job, a relationship or a decision – is a scary term for many of us. And it’s pretty easy to understand why. When we look around our fear of commitment is repeatedly reinforced by our surroundings. Tinder and the Bachie call the century-old practice of courtship taboo, and instead we’re encouraged to engage in one-night stands and the pursuit of a ‘no strings attached’ relationship. We’re informed that we’re of the age where we experience multiple career changes over our lifetime, so there’s no need to be too precious about the career we’re in now.

The problem with all of this though, is that when it comes time to make a long-term decision – which happens – how do we follow through?

My reduced capacity to make long-term decisions comes from a few places.

I am – we all are - a creature of habit, and in today’s world we can crave what we can’t have or we can create a checklist inspired by a combination of the media and the general public depicting what is “perfect” or “better” then. How often do we see people seeking out a relationship with the “perfect” person? We can easily forget that Love Actually was only a movie.

But it’s not just about having unrealistic expectations. Like many others, I fear the vulnerability of getting it wrong.  

As humans we are a proud species, and we continuously strive for meaning and purpose for our own lives in a big way. We as human beings can have a tendency to be selfish, entitled, and fall into pride — which isn’t always bad, but too much of it, will leave us falling back into the life we might be trying to get away from.

But here’s the thing about being afraid to be wrong — how else will we ever be right? Scientists are wrong hundreds of times before they get something right, so why can’t we be? We’ll never stop learning, thus we can only grow by letting ourselves be vulnerable from time to time and picking our battles. Of course we should be careful, but we should still take risks and allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

Because we actually choose the lives we lead and we choose what happens to us. We have this incredible power to choose in our life, and where I am today is the result of all the many decisions I made long ago.

We have the power to choose the lives we lead and what happens to us. We choose:

  • Our jobs
  • Our mates
  • Where we live
  • Our friends
  • What we do with our free time
  • The number of children we have
  • How hard we work
  • How healthy we are
  • How we dress
  • What we eat

The number of things that in my daily life I choose is actually quite phenomenal (particularly if you knew how big my wardrobe is). We choose our lives and what happens to us and shape our own destinies. Some of us might be more interested in blaming outside events and circumstances for what happens to us in our lives. The truth is that often what happens to us is almost completely the result of all the decisions we make. We are in charge of our own lives and our decisions shape our entire existence.

Many of us can be tormented by their inability to make a decision and commit. Neighbours is a very good example of this. Lives are wrecked over and over again by the inability to commit. No one ever knows who they want to be with in Neighbours, and relationships are very rarely characterized by commitment. Everyone is always crying, and entire stories are pretty tragic and insane. One of the reasons these stories are so good to watch is because the characters in them simply can never commit. They make decisions but struggle with the commitment.

If we’re going to be feel any source of contentment, I reckon we need to be a bit committed to our decisions. We could spend eternity going back and forth in:

  • Our choice of a mate
  • Our choice of a job
  • Our choice of a profession
  • Our commitment to your job
  • Our commitment to your mate
  • Our commitment to an education
  • Our commitment to being better at what you do

But when we don’t commit to a decision about what we want to do, we’ll find ourselves in a state of perpetual confusing – trust me, I lived here for ages. But if we commit to all the decisions we make however, we will never have clarity. This is how most people live their lives. Making a decision and committing to it gives you clarity. And clarity can give us power.

So on analysis, I’m giving up my identity as a ‘commitment-phobe’. And I think it’s going to be okay.



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