How Do I Decide?
Could making decisions from a place of inspiration change your life?
I've always thought of life as being made up of a series of decisions. You live your life, you come to a crossroad, and then you decide what to do next. This process then keeps repeating. Almost all of the big decisions in my life have been made with my emotions. Not because I thought that they would take me in the right direction, but because that is how I instinctively approach life. When I realize that it is time for change, a thought comes into my mind, and before I have had time to rationalize it, I know that the decision has been made. Once that happens, there is no going back. It feels right and that is that. I look back, years later, at every one of these decisions and I don't regret a single one. I knew that they were right for me and in hindsight I can still see that they were good decisions. I have only ever regretted the decisions I made with my head, because often my head was influenced by the emotions of others.
I don't think most people in our society have been taught to make decisions with their emotions. We have been taught that the rational mind is the one to trust. I am seeing more and more that this is no longer the common opinion, however. We now recognize that the emotions, the gut feelings, are our internal guidance systems, our inner compasses. Their function is to point us in the right direction for us. They warn us of danger and they show us the way to excitement. They are our signposts and sensors. They should never be dismissed as inferior to our thinking capacities. Used together, feeling and thinking are our superpowers.
There is another important layer to this, though. We have to be able to read our feelings to understand what they're telling us. Decisions should never come from a place of fear. We may not be aware of how many of our decisions are based on fear. Some common examples of fear-based decision-making might include staying in a job because we fear that we don't have the skills to find another one, staying in a relationship or starting one out of fear of being alone, and having children because we fear that we will regret not having them or because of social pressure. Sometimes fear of the unknown is enough to push us into making decisions without taking the time to consider how we really feel about them.
We need to learn to differentiate between the anxiety due to change or fear of the unknown, and the fear that signals danger. A small amount of anxiety means that we are out of our comfort zones, in a space of growth. This is something to celebrate. But, there is a difference between the type of anxiety that comes when we are afraid of doing something that we really really want to do, and the type that arises when the thought of doing something leads to us feeling very uncomfortable or resistant. It's normal that others will encourage us to make decisions based on things that they value or based on their needs and desires. Making the right decisions for us means that we must be able to recognize this in others.
Now, to the final layer. Decisions should be made based on inspiration. They should be inspired. These are the decisions that will feel effortless, that will generate momentum, and that we will look back on with gratitude. There is absolutely no doubt that there will be challenges with every path we take. We are designed to want to challenge ourselves. The paths that we choose from inspiration, however, will be the ones that get us up in the morning. They will enliven us. They will light us from within. When our actions are aligned with positive feelings, everything will be easier for us. We will be able to give up the struggle. We will be able to engage with life.
Listen to your feelings. Nurture them. Use them as your guideposts. In my life, my feelings have never let me down. And, if I am unsure of where they're pointing me, I just sit tight. Don't be pressured to make a decision while you are feeling fear. Look for the inspiration if you can. What do you really want out of life? Maybe your rational mind is unsure, but your body knows, your gut knows. Your muscles will tell you, and so will your breath and your energy levels. Everything we will ever need to know is right here inside of us. All we need to do is trust that life is happening for us and that we are being supported by life. We need to embrace the unknown. This is the excitement of life. We need to love our way through and we need to feel our way through.