Each and every one of us makes decisions all day long. I will get up now, I’ll go with the Frosted Flakes, I’ll take the highway instead of the side roads, I don’t need an umbrella, I’ll cross the street as soon as this car passes by. In some cases, you may not even realize you’re doing it. Your choices may be reflexive, or so seemingly minor that some part of your brain makes them while the rest is busy working on something else.
Then there are the other decisions. These are the ones that seem to take over your whole brain, and likely your body, too (breathing, anyone?) – the ones that make you feel like a million and one critical things hang in the balance. They weigh you down (back to that body) and take over your focus, making it hard to see anything else without thinking about them first. Of course, you know I’m going to mention perspective here, and the idea that any decision is only as big as you make it, and the potential consequences that you are foreseeing and strategizing over are hypothetical, and not at all guaranteed to play out. Nevertheless, while feelings (including stress) do pass, you may find that a little mindfulness helps you feel more clear in the face of challenging dilemmas, more connected to your intuition (aka, your “gut”) when deciding, and as a result, more confident in the choices that you ultimately make.
This isn’t the first time you’ve heard me talk about decision-making and its consequences. Along our path together here, we’ve covered…
Going against the grain (when you know what you want, but it’s scary)
The mind/heart battle (when your heart doesn’t care about pros vs. cons)
Motivations (what you want/need vs. what you think others want/need from you)
What to say and when (aka, it’s always about you)
Heartbreak (when your decision and theirs isn’t the same)
…and a whole collection of “No-Fail” Friday mindfulness challenges designed to help you navigate the choppy waters of doing the next, right thing when it comes to tough choices.
There is no feeling on Earth quite like the lightness of a tough decision made. The wave of relief that washes over you is like none other, as the world almost instantly seems to be more engaging, more colorful, more interesting. The fact is, however, that the world hasn’t changed one bit – you have. You weren’t really seeing the world because you were trapped in your own mind, which – whether over decisions or thoughts of another kind – is a habit we all fall into. We can only see the world through ourselves first. If we’re not present and paying attention to the world, then the world is less likely to show up for us.
Part of the deal is also showing up for yourself. It’s my personal belief that we know the decisions we want to make far earlier than we actually allow ourselves to make them. Sometimes that sense is buried so deeply within us that we really, truly can’t connect to it until we’ve done some introspection, turned our focus away from distractions, and given it space to be heard.
Mindfulness may not make your big decisions easy, but it can help you make them. First, however, you need to make the choice to catch your breath, and listen to what your intuition has to say.
Photo credit: Luca Upper