Decision Making: The Shadow People

I find it interesting that many people have opinions about how each of us should live our lives and are not hesitant to share them.

People who don't have children often try to tell us how to parent. Those who have never had a job sometimes try to provide us with career counselling and those who are poor tell us what we should do with our money. It's easy for those who I call the "shadow people" to tell us what to do because they don't have to take any responsibility for the results. They just sit in the shadows and whisper words that they wouldn't implement in their own lives. Then they watch from their position in the dark.

If you are wondering what to do regarding a specific situation in your life try taking the following steps:


  1. Clearly identify the problem - Begin by writing down only one sentence that clearly describes the issue that is plaguing you.
  2. Research options - Find books or articles that describe strategies for resolving the issue. It is also helpful to talk with individuals who have successfully dealt with a similar situation and not allowed it to occur again.
  3. Write down your options leaving space for more writing between each of them - No matter what is happening, there are always different ways that you can deal with the situation. For example, you could do nothing, continue to research, seek specialized advice or take various forms of action.
  4. Under each option write down possible risks and outcomes.
  5. Trust yourself to choose the one option that you think is best. Usually it is wiser to choose the one that you THINK will bring the best results rather than just focusing on your feelings.
  6. Take action.
  7. Evaluate your progress.
  8. If you are not satisfied with the results, return to step #2 and repeat the process as many times as necessary.


Feelings are important but people who lead with their feelings often end up in the ditch. It is far better to thoroughly think through the options and then take action. Do not allow fear to stop you from doing what will lead to successful outcomes.

So often I witness individuals who are seriously taken advantage of because they "love" someone. Instead of setting boundaries they allow the other people to do as they please with negative results. They allow their feelings interfere with their decision-making and then become confused about why things don't change for the better.

There are a number of advantages to seeing a psychologist. One of them is that you can communicate your situation to someone who is totally objective and confidential. The psychologist will help you to go through the above process and come to a point of deciding what is best for you.

The "shadow people" in your life might mean well and you might not want to ignore them but they might not be providing the best advice for your life. Remember, you are the one who needs to make the decisions and live with the consequences - good or bad.

(By the way, if you are a "shadow person" to someone else, perhaps you should consider the fact that you might not actually be helping the other person. Perhaps the very best advice you can offer is that they seek out the help of a psychologist).

And now I would like to invite you to claim your Free Instant Access to a complimentary list of 10 Steps to Making Your Life an Adventure when you visit

From Dr. Linda Hancock, Registered Psychologist and Registered Social Worker

Back to blog