Are you finding yourself always sitting on the fence when it comes to each and every decision? Having trouble listening to your gut and struggling to move forward when it comes to choosing what’s right? Have no fear. ALT/ Psychotherapist Chanelle Sowden has rounded up the best of the best tips to help you find conviction and confidence in your choices from here on out.
The most important step in decision making is identifying your long-term goals. Our brains have developed to keep us ‘safe’ and while this is helpful, it also means we can default to avoiding things that scare us in the moment. We’re more likely to make better quality decisions with our long-term goals clear in mind than when we’re responding to our short-term fears.
2. DON’T RUSH IT
Ensuring you’re not being rushed or under pressure is also important. Can you ask for or create yourself a chunk of time and space to reflect, dig deep, make sure you’re in a positive state of mind or talk it out with someone? Can your options be narrowed down or broadened? Too much choice can be overwhelming, so there can be great benefits to ruling out what you can as a first step. Conversely, when a decision seems ‘black or white’ there’s sometimes room for a middle ground which can feel easier.
Reframing your decision in any of these ways can give you a whole new energy to your process.
3. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY + FIND EMPOWERMENT IN THIS
An important part of decision making is owning the decision once you make it. If you find yourself talking about what you’ll ‘have’ to decide or what you ‘should’ do, it may be that you’re avoiding responsibility and susceptible to giving away the credit or blame to someone else which can be disempowering. Your decision doesn’t have to be the ‘best’ by popular opinion or be understood by others, it just has to feel right to YOU on your journey. Even better than making the ‘right’ decisions all the time is making the decisions that are true for you and where you’re at.
4. TALK IT THROUGH WITH OTHERS
Talking things through is a natural, human need and definitely recommended when it comes to hard or life-changing decisions.
Friends or family are helpful because they care and know you and your patterns personally. It is natural though, that the advice from those closest to us can be clouded by their own past experiences, current circumstances or what they think is best for you. This is not their fault it’s just humans being human.
A coach or therapist can give a more professional experience of finding what’s best for you. Another alternative is approaching someone in a position that you aspire to be in from making this decision and asking if they would speak with you. Even the process of preparing for a discussion like this can be helpful.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT (BUT INCLUDE YOUR BRAIN IN THE DECISION TOO)
Both logic and ‘listening to our gut’ are important. If we’re making a decision based on logic or facts it’s important we tune in to what we ‘feel’ too. Likewise, if we’re being governed by feelings e.g. excitement or fear, try incorporating some logic into the situation. Balancing logical thinking with your ‘gut feeling’ is an ongoing practice for all of us. The best thing we can do is be mindful of where we are in this moment and look at what steps we can take to regain more of a balanced position.
What does your heart say? What does your brain say? What do you feel? What do you think? Are you ‘hoping’ or risking a lot? Are you protecting yourself and staying safe too much?
6. GET STRATEGIC
If trying to decide makes you nervous, how can you tell if it’s fear you are feeling, or excitement, when thinking of a possible choice?
Fear and excitement are easily mixed up and sometimes it may even be that we’re feeling both at the same time, this is completely normal. When emotions are strong or muddled it can help to look objectively. Is there something to genuinely fear or get excited about? Assessing both the best and the worst possible outcomes can be an intelligent thing to do. It may be possible to make strategic plans so that the best possible outcome becomes most likely or that the worst possible outcome becomes less risky or temporary.
7. CHOOSE YOU
If my main fear when trying to make a decision is how other people are going to react if I don’t do the thing they want me to, how can I get over this and make the choice about what is actually right for me?
Good decision making requires a strong sense of self. Knowing your own mind is vital to personal growth. ‘People pleasing’ is an interesting quality, while it makes it hard sometimes to put yourself first it also means you are likely sensitive to the needs of others or popular socially and these are positive things.
Again, it comes back to balance. While you don’t want to be a selfish person or hurtful to others it is important that you put your needs first at times. There are ways to be considerate of the feelings of others and still make the choice that’s right for you. Discussing your situation and choice with the person in hand can offer an opportunity for you both to feel heard and understood in your decision and show that you do care about them. If there’s a risk of the conversation becoming heated at first, writing a letter can be a gentle way of keeping reactions calmer.