How do you feel when you have to make a big decision?
They can feel hugely challenging for a number of reasons, certainly not just surface level. There’s a LOT involved.
It can often feel like you’re going round and round and round in circles without actually finding a solid conclusion.
Or WORSE…you think you make your mind up then change it again, and again, and again!
So much is going round your noggin it’s SUPER noisy and sapping your energy.
Do I trust myself?
Do I trust the things I’m deciding between?
Do I actually know what I really want?
Do I understand the consequences for myself?
Do I understand the consequences for other people?
What’s the most important to me?
Am I doing the right thing?
You can do a lot of conscious work when it comes to making decisions. ALL the thinking.
That’s part of the process for sure but there’s another couple of layers deeper that are incredibly helpful to use in the process.
Your unconscious mind.
And your body. I’ll explain what I mean shortly.
When it comes to your unconscious mind, all your past experiences are stored there. The good, the bad and the ugly. The big and little traumas that happened as a child, or older, that have caused your protection mechanisms.
Your ego and your triggers. Your stories. Your fears. Your assumptions. Your biases. Your values. And all of this can work for and against your ability to make big decisions.
In very simplified terms as an example, If you’ve grown up pretty independent, watching your primary caregivers make big decisions that work out, you’ll probably find it pretty easy to make them yourself.
If however, you grew up watching primary caregivers make big decisions that had negative ramifications for you and your family.
Or you were molly coddled and not allowed to make your own decisions and were told you weren’t capable for whatever reason.
Or you made a big decision yourself and it led to negative consequences.
If anything along those lines are your experience then your brain will always try to protect you from that happening again and it is highly likely to be difficult to make decisions.
BUT, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Remember, in the words of Carl Jung, ‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.’
So let’s make it conscious. This is what I mean about digging a little deeper!
This doesn’t go just for the making of decisions itself. You also have the content and context of the decision itself.
So there can be a lot going on.
But in my experience there are lots of ways to make it a little easier.
Using all three levels.
Your conscious mind, your unconscious mind and your body.
So here are a few ways for you to think about and try. I use these to make my own decisions and help clients with theirs.
Some of my big decisions include closing down my mini mastermind in its current iteration to relaunch in January with the same principles in a different format. I had some GORGEOUS clients in there that had been with me for 2 years and I was also cutting off that stream of revenue so it was a BIG decision, but I KNOW it was the right one and I’m excited for January, the new format and the new ladies that I’m going to help achieve their big goals and dreams.
Some of my clients big decisions that they’ve been able to make confidently have been ending relationships, moving countries, completely pivoting businesses, re-qualifying in a different field, closing down revenue streams, letting go of nightmare clients, having huge life changing conversations they’d put off for YEARS and lots more.
So I hope these tools and ideas help you too.
Not all decisions are positive all round.
Sometimes we have to make REALLY tough ones but we have to do what’s for the best.
Let go of any ‘shoulds’ you might be feeling.
Let go of any judgement you might be feeling.
Accept that it’s hard and that’s ok.
Doubts are normal.
Especially if the ‘right’ decision affects someone else negatively.
Be kind to yourself in the process and don’t suppress any emotions you might be feeling. Use them as a guide, they’re there to tell you something important.
Make sure you’re able to regulate any stress you might be feeling through the process.
My stressed to success meditation is PERFECT for those moments.
Just being able to take a step back for 10 minutes.
It will help activate the parasympathetic nervous system so you’re not operating and trying to make a big decision from a fight or flight response.
It’s so important to understand that you can’t make a good decision from a bad place.
People will always have conflicting opinions on what you ‘should’ do.
Everyone will always operate from THEIR ego, experiences, beliefs, bias etc.
So the more people you ask, the more it could potentially muddy the waters.
Having other opinions can be really helpful BUT don’t attach anything to someone else being ‘right’ take what resonates with you and that’s helpful but remember they aren’t you.
You’re the one who needs to live with the decision, not them.
So if you know someone who can offer up a fresh perspective without judgement, then awesome.
If you know someone who has gone through similar, then awesome.
Just be conscious of who and how many other opinions you ask for.
I’ve talked about this before, but the gut is often referred to as your ‘second brain’.
There are millions of neurons connecting the two. They ‘talk’ to each other all the time. What you eat, and your gut health affect your mood. The fear response from the brain goes to the gut very quickly, you feel it.
For me it shows as butterflies.
That anxious feeling in the pit of your gut. That can steer you in your decisions.
You also hear it in day to day language. You get a ‘gut feeling’ or a ‘gut reaction’. I talk about it in the episode ‘heavy vs light’.
When you really tune in and listen to it you can find the answers you need.
We’re often conditioned out of being in tune with our bodies, so if you’re not used to listening it may take a little while to get back into it but it will get stronger and easier the more you do.
A question I love to use with clients is ‘what if I told you you couldn’t do that (specific option)’ and get them to tune into the sensations in their body.
What do you feel and where do you feel it in your body?
What did their gut do. What emotions and sensations rose up in that split second?
It’s amazing how much your first reaction can tell you about how you feel about something.
This is amazing for when you have to make super quick decisions.
That leads me nicely onto asking your body.
Your mind and body are SO interconnected but most of us have lost touch with that.
Most of us are all in the mind in terms of connection.
We can get stuck in analysis paralysis.
We’re often operating from the past or future, rarely in the present.
One of the ways to know you’re in the present moment is to tune into sensations in your body. My Stressed to success meditation guides you through this too.
The more we practice embodiment and get ‘into the body’ the more we can learn about ourselves or situations.
So there’s a couple of ways that you can literally ask your body questions.
It’s about to get a bit weird kids…but these are some of my favourite ways to make decisions.
Kinesiology can help a HUGE amount here, especially when we don’t ‘consciously’ know an answer.
So what is kinesiology you may be thinking.
Kinesiology is essentially ‘the science dealing with the interrelationship of the physiological processes and anatomy of the human body with respect to movement’ (Dictionary.com).
What does that mean?
It means your body can give you answers that your mind often can’t.
You can use muscle testing and the unconscious ideomotor response.
There are lots of different ways to do this but my favourite is the sway.
This is super simple.
Stand up with your feet facing forwards, close your eyes if you need to to help you tune into your body.
State something that you know to be true, like ‘my name is (your name)’ and notice what happens in your body. You should feel a gentle tug forward for a yes statement.
Then say something you know not to be true, like ‘my name is Jemima puddleduck’ and you should feel a gentle push backwards.
So a yes answer should take you forwards, and a no backwards. Ask away!
I have some go to questions that always help me with decisions.
What’s the best case scenario if I do this, and what’s the worst.
What’s the best case scenario if I don’t do this, and what’s the worst
What am I saying no to if I say yes to this option?
What am I saying yes to if I say no to this option?
My other favourite question can be super annoying BUT ALWAYS gives you a little extra…or let’s you know you really have thought it through.
‘And what’s one more potential option?’
If you keep asking ‘what’s one more thing, what’s one more thing’ it will keep you thinking outside the box and looking at all the different angles.
It will allow you to look at all sides and give you far more information so you can make a better, more informed decision.
You can use visualisation or meditation to help with this one too. Close your eyes and ask and see if a memory, a thought or an image comes up for you.
It’s just you connecting with your unconscious mind in a different way.
No regrets. No shoulda woulda coulda. No ‘what might have been’.
Just remember. ‘There is no failure, only feedback’ You either get the outcome you wanted or you’ll learn some really valuable lessons. Both are a good thing.
Check out The Positive Pants Podcast here
Fran Excell, Mindset & Productivity Coach – Helping Business Owners Overcome Self Sabotage & Get More Done In Less Time at www.franexcell.com
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© 2023 Fran Excell. Success mindset mentor for entrepreneurs & executives.