“You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” – Michelle Obama
When you have to make a decision, how do you do it?
Flip a coin?
Close your eyes and point in a direction?
Plug your nose and jump in?
Those methods might work for what movie to see on Saturday night, or want to order for dinner at your favorite restaurant, but how do you make one of those jaw-dropping, heart-pounding potentially-life-changing decisions: moving to a new city, choosing between job options, whether to quit your job to follow a new path?
When you hit one of these losing-your-sleep types of decisions, how can you tell if it’s fear running the show with your inner critic at the helm, whispering in your ear, or good plain old common sense?
When you need to figure out the right way to go, try this:
First, what is your critic saying about this decision, about the options you’re weighing, and most importantly, about you?
Beyond the words and opinions of your critic, what do you notice about its tone of voice? What’s the feeling you get when you listen to your critic? What happens to your energy level – revved up, or slowed down?
For most people, the critic is about protection, safety and the status quo: that’s it’s job, so thank it for keeping you out of danger.
But if your critic, with its endless chitter-chatter, is your main advisor on your decision making, you may be experiencing sleepiness, apathy or fear. You may energetically feel heady or buzzy, chest clutching anxiety, or jump-out-of-your-skin nervousness.
It’s like trying to think clearly with a fly buzzing in your ear, or the over the drone of a boring old aunt.
Learning to distinguish normal ordinary fear (which can inform us) from debilitating negative self-talk (which can stop us) is an important skill to hone. The more you can know the voice of your critic, its habits, theme songs and favorite sayings the more you’ll be able to catch it before it has you sit something out, pass on an opportunity, or stifle your true voice.
Next, notice this: when you think about this decision, what does your body have to say? (Really, no joke: and keep reading!)
We actually naturally use words like “I knew in my heart”, “I had a gut sense”, “It’s giving me a headache/stomachache” for a reason. New information from neuroscience is reinforcing what we’ve always known intuitively in our language: we can get important information from our physical self.
Usually when you hit upon the answer or decision that is right for you, there is a calm sense of knowing, or ease. It’s like puzzle pieces fitting together. Something locks in and you just know. Conversely, the “wrong” answer can feel like nails on a chalk board, slight nausea, or itchy skin.
Learning how to find and appreciate your own internal cues about what matters to you can give you another lens or perspective on what decision has integrity for you. Try it out & let me know what happens!
Now it’s your turn! In the Comments below, tell me:
– What do you do when you have to make a big decision?
– How do you distinguish between your critic and your true self?
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