How to hear your intuition when making a big decision
Have you ever wondered why it can feel so incredibly difficult to make a decision? The pros and cons lists, the endless stream of thoughts talking us into it and then against it, the anxiety about potential disappointment, doing it wrong, or regretting it can leave us paralyzed with self-doubt.
I can very much relate to this cycle. In the past, I had extreme difficulty making decisions. I would become completely obsessed with all aspects of the process, seeking to talk it out with anyone that would listen and write list after list on what direction would be best.
- Giving Our Mind Permission
We can feel extreme resistance around connecting to our body when we’re stressed or feeling anxious to figure something out. We want to stay in our heads and solve it logically, not allowing ourselves to abandon the problem for even a few minutes. We don’t realize this only creates more indecisiveness and stress, raising our cortisol levels, which impacts our ability to think clearly. Important decisions are made through accessing faith within ourselves, where our mind and body connect in harmony. Like so many matters of the heart, this can feel very counterintuitive.
The more deeply we can relax, the more powerful our mind will be to gain clarity and make the right decision.
This can look like talking to our conscious mind, letting it know we’re working on things: “I’m working on it, this is how I will give you the clarity you’re asking for.” This gives us permission to exit our head, lowering the resistance we are feeling. We assure the mind we’re not going to abandon it forever, but just for right now. We will be returning. This quiets the chatter we’re hardwired to have on a continuous thought loop.
- Identifying What We’re Feeling
Building trust and faith in ourselves starts with connecting to our body and what we’re feeling. Where are we holding tension or feeling sensations related to the outside stress within us? What does it feel like? Where does it feel lighter or heavier? As we practice exiting our thinking mind, we’ll feel different sensations as we further relax into what we want and allow it to come in. The distinctions may feel extremely subtle at first, yet as we deepen our awareness through the relaxation, we’ll start to identify nuances within our choices that will guide us to the one that is most in alignment with what we want. We want to stay open and note any gentle intuitive nudges in one direction over the other. I once had to make a hard decision about my oldest son’s schooling that brought up all kinds of mixed emotions. My husband and I agreed early on to transfer him to a bigger school for elementary, as his current school was very small, and we wanted him to have a different classroom experience with his teachers and peers.
- Evoking Curiosity
Evoking curiosity allows us to discern between whether we’re reacting versus responding to the issue. Curiosity allows us to be right where we are in the moment without judging ourselves for being indecisive or for not knowing the answer right away. For example, as I chose to get curious and compassionate with myself rather than closed off and frustrated when I felt like I couldn’t come to a decision for my son, I was able to go deeper into the “why” of what I wanted. As I leaned into each scenario remembering what was discussed when calm and fully in my conscious mind, I started to feel a subtle, yet distinct difference when I relaxed into each choice.
- Balancing Heart and Head
One of my clients, Norah, told me that she was considering leaving her job but couldn’t make a final decision. She didn’t want to do something she would regret, and she had gone through every analytical exercise she could think of: a pro/con list, talking to a friend, and envisioning what it would be like if she stayed versus if she left.
- Use the Snap Judgement Test
Try this exercise to practice making a snap decision with a question you are deliberating: Write a simple yes/no question on a piece of paper. Make sure the question is actionable and not theoretical. For instance, rather than, “Do I dislike my boss?” instead write, “Should I quit my job?” Write “yes/no” below the question, and leave a pen nearby. Now go do something else for a couple hours. When you next come across the piece of paper, grab the pen and close your eyes. Then, open them and immediately circle your answer.
- Make Space for Reflection
Intuition can’t flourish in busy, noisy, environments — whether at work, during your commute, or at home. To really hear the insight that comes from inside, you have to build in time to reflect on your experiences. That often seems easier said than done.
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