Decisions

Over the past week I’ve had so many ideas swirling round my head for writing – my next blog post and the book I’m currently working on – that I couldn’t think clearly about any of them, and instead frittered away hours scrolling through social media… I was planning to have a post out two days ago and as I still hadn’t decided what to write never mind actually writing it I was feeling a bit disgruntled with myself.

So I sat down determined to write something before dinner and looked through some old articles for inspiration, I saw one about decision making and instantaneously it was a yes. Why? I’ve no idea! But that “no idea” is part of the topic of this post. So many people I’ve known struggle with making decisions and I’ve certainly agonised over a few myself but even people who struggle and procrastinate can remember at least one time when the decision just made itself. So I hope that this article will help someone who is perhaps having difficulty in this area of their life.

In this post I am using decisions to focus on, large and small, from the life changing such as changing careers, moving home or ending a relationship to the everyday such as “will I go out tonight”? or even a simple, “which way will I walk today”? In the next post I will write about choices such as the fairly small choices we make on a daily basis that become habits which added up over time affect our life and health in profound ways.

For the big decisions in life if we take it right back to the Self and the life you planned for yourself there will be key points in life that help you fulfill all you came here to do. How do we know what to do and if it’s right? We usually are offered several decision points, or forks in the road, until we reach the point of no return, when we have a reasonably clear mind, trust in ourself and are not overwhelmed with stress the decision usually seems obvious. I feel I must point out that sometimes a decision will end in struggle or pain and that actually may be exactly what was needed; with hindsight we can often see points were we have grown as a person and learnt something about self and life.

However, as many people lead very busy and sometime chaotic lives there is not enough space for a decision to be obvious or clear, add to that the tendency, certainly in the West, to revere the mind. Most would assume that a decision has to be thought about, thinking certainly comes into it when there is planning to do but the actual decision, that split second choice is just that – a split second of agreement to something. Another point I would make here is in regard to the smaller decisions – when you have made up your mind about something – a meal choice, whether to go out somewhere, an item of clothing etc. then stick to it. This is a form of training in self trust – go with the first gut instinct. Occasionally you may be wrong but most of the time you will be right, and will be learning to trust your intuition and inner knowing.

If you find yourself faced with a decision with options that have become muddled or the choice is so huge and potentially heartbreaking that you’re frightened in case you go the wrong way then I have a couple of ways that may help you realise the truth within yourself. I’ve used both of these in the past and know with years of hindsight that I went the right way. I think I’m also very fortunate in that I come from a family who all seem to be good at making decisions – we don’t often hang around!

I remember describing one of these ways to a friend a while after I’d made a massive change in my life and she couldn’t believe that I would base something that momentous on a heart based or instinctive decision instead of spending days mentally agonising over it… I pointed out that after days of mental agonising and questioning you’re still left with the need to make up your mind!

Making a Decision Through Noticing Our Internal Reaction

One way of making a decision is to spend a few minutes getting very still, breathing deeply, letting thoughts go as much as possible. Bring one choice to mind, let’s use as an example the decision of whether or not to leave your work and accept a job at another place. State the decision as if it’s already happening, present tense language, i.e. “I am leaving my current job to start at…” Say it clearly to yourself then observe what happens within the area of your heart and notice what emotion comes up. Note all your responses, but not the thoughts (you will have had plenty of those, let them go for now) then set this decision aside. Repeat this for the other choice you have about the decision, i.e. “I am staying in my current job”. Again, repeat it clearly to yourself and note your reactions, physical and emotional. It should start to become fairly clear what feels right. What many will struggle with at this point is the thought that they are acting on what seems like irrational input, I would suggest that irrationality usually comes from the mind…

One huge decision I made years ago was made like this and I’ve never regretted it. As I thought about one choice a wave of fear went through me but I could feel myself physically straightening up, my heart felt a little lighter, as I thought about the other choice I felt safe but my body slumped and I could feel a kind of miserable lethargy, a heavy heartedness, go through me. I took the fear inducing decision! I relate this to point out that fear is not necessarily a deciding factor against something, in fact it’s often an obscuring feeling we use to stay stuck, once we begin to move the fear will usually dissipate, and even turn to excitement.

You can practice this method in small ways to get a feel for it; notice your reaction to say two meal options, a walk in which you could go either way, what to wear today etc. Have fun with it, see how much you can make choices with zero mental input. If you have ever read “The Celestine Prophecy” you may remember the main character’s method for having to make fast decisions – when faced with say a fork in the road and not knowing where to go he would go with what looked slightly brighter. I like this as well as I think it’s another form of training to trust our instinct, in this case author James Redfield was encouraging us to trust our higher guidance through our visual senses.

The Two Gates

A more imaginative way to make a decision is to trust your subconscious mind to paint a picture for you based on the right way to go. This is a technique that Gill Edwards, author of “Living Magically” wrote about 30 years ago and I used to use it a lot. It involves imagining yourself walking down a country lane with a high hedge on one side. There are two gates within this hedge, decide beforehand what each gate will represent. As you come to the first gate, knowing which choice is represented here, stop in front of the gate and notice what it looks like, then slowly open it, does it swing open easily or is it a bit stuck. Now walk in and notice your surroundings, first impressions then details. What is your reaction to what you observe. When you have seen enough come out and repeat this at the second gate.

Your imagination will have furnished you with details that represent what you already know on another level. This method can be jaw dropping in what it reveals about your instinctual knowing regarding events or people in your life. In the next post I will include a recording taking you through these two methods

A final note I’d like to make about making a decision is the importance of just making it! It’s not only tiring having a decision hanging over you but more insidious is what it steals from your life. When we are faced with a decision or a choice – even if it’s not urgent either way – the longer the choice is delayed the more your life will be put on hold. When we make a decision about something – even if it’s the wrong one – life moves. Opportunities open up. And if you have made the wrong choice then usually life will course correct, meaning you will be offered new options at some other point.

It’s about noticing the many signs we are given as we move though life, some signs will be for an internal shift, something within that needs to be balanced, healed or let go of. But often there are many signs that ignite a spark towards a new phase of your life – these signs can be external or internal. Life can become quite magical when we begin to trust acting on these signs.

Published by Catherine Strang

I have been passionate about health and well-being since my teenage years when a health problem prompted me to use diet to regain my strength. By the end of the 80's I was working as a chef in a Rudolf Steiner based vegetarian cafe in Edinburgh and this led me (through working with some very alternatives types!) to pursue a career as a massage therapist and healer, which I began in 1990. Since then I have trained in many different forms of therapy, including Hypnotherapy, EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming), EmoTrance (a form of deeply mindful emotional processing). I retired completely from bodywork in 2017 and at present only occasionally work as a 1:1 therapist. My focus now is teaching and I have been doing this since 1991 when I taught Aromatherapy and massage courses for the Edinburgh Council Adult Education Programme, by the time I finished these courses in 2000 I had also taught aromatherapy/massage sessions across Edinburgh in Community Centers, Health Projects and a variety of other non profit organisations. By this time however I was beginning to develop Stress Management and later Meditation and personal development courses/sessions and was including corporate settings as well as private teaching events. The list of places I have taught in is extensive and over the past three decades I've no doubt forgotten quite a few! I am dedicated to personal development, health and meditation and bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to each session. I am well aware of the struggles, often hidden from work colleagues, that many go through during the course of their life and endeavor always to be kind, non-intrusive and in a work setting discreet.

2 thoughts on “Decisions

  1. Another fascinating and thought provoking blog by Ms Strang.

    Three observations spring to mind.

    Catherine’s thoughts remind me of a short article of my own, entitled “Intuition and Decision Making”, published some 25 years ago in my profession’s journal.

    One thread of the discussion was how important ‘gut feel’ is in our decision making.

    I worked for the world leader in aerospace component manufacture for thirteen years, the last seven as company secretary. The position was exceptionally wide-ranging with myriad key responsibilities. It certainly wasn’t pushing paper clips around the desk, as one acquaintance quipped!

    From time to time, colleagues would ask how I was able to process vast quantities of work in such short periods of time.

    My response was exactly what Catherine Strang alludes to. My many years of training and experience, alongside an internationally recognised professional qualification enabled me to make decisions, even strategic, operational and resource-based ones, which, if they had been wrong, would have had damaging implications for the whole organisation, even the entire group worldwide.

    Intuition enabled me to take decisions, both large and small, in the blink of an eye.

    I’m sure many of us have heard of ‘analysis paralysis’. With reference to individual and group decision making, the Abilene Paradox is worth casting an eye over.

    My second point concerns Catherine’s apparent frustration at not getting much done, too many great ideas buzzing around her head…a common enough experience. Writer’s block springs to mind too.

    A close friend of mine many years ago had to deal with her husband’s catastrophic burn-out, loss of £tens of millions and everything else in their lives, including bankruptcy. Asked how on earth she managed to cope during those roller coaster years, she replied she held her emotions like a stone in her heart and compared the colossal problem to a very large circle, which she divided into tiny, but manageable and resolvable circles.

    Capturing all those ideas, creative or otherwise, which might be useful blog material, is crucial. Once they’re listed, we can forget them, bar the one we decide to work on.

    The last point I’d like to make is music related. As a musician (classical guitarist), I recall learning, not hundreds, but thousands of pieces of varying degrees of difficulty. What still astonishes me to this day is how the brain works in such mysterious ways.

    I would practise and practise a piece for hours on end until it reached a point where I just wasn’t making that final progress to reach perfection…or at least near perfection in my case.

    What I discovered was, if I stopped practising the particular piece for three or four days and started playing it again, my rendition was much improved.

    The only way I can describe it is if one cooks porridge or some other dish in an Aga or slow cooker overnight, the taste, texture, tenderness, everything about it is so much better in every respect…

    Like

  2. Thankyou for your comments Ian, some really useful information there, I especially like the one about your friend, it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by certain circumstances when really all we can do is break it down in to manageable pieces.

    Like

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