Every event in our life comes about as a result of outer circumstances and inner decision-making. Once you understand this simple truth, you will start to realize how old, deep-seated patterns of decision-making can affect the way you move through life.
In other words, it’s not just about the decisions you make, but the way you unconsciously go about making those decisions that can have an enormous impact on your life. Unfortunately, most people go through their lives repeating their decision-making patterns with no awareness, and this is why they find it so difficult to change their lives.
Since we have a limited amount of energy to spend making choices every day, learning how to improve our decision-making process will help us on a practical level while simultaneously helping us understand us how we tend to deal with difficult situations on an unconscious level.
Why Strong Decision-Making is So Important
Pick a color.
Got one? Now be honest with yourself, how many colors did your mind cycle through before you picked the one you landed on? Notice I didn’t say pick your favorite color, just a color. Did you really need to spend as much time as you did thinking about it?
In many cases, the pain of decision-making comes from excessive thinking about a decision, and not the decision itself. Try holding your arm out straight in front of you, perpendicular to your body. Doing this for 10 seconds is easy, but the longer you try to maintain this unnatural position, the more difficult it will become and the heavier your arm will feel. The same is true when it comes to the weight of decisions.
Naturally, it is wise to spend a given amount of time linking with the heart and using your intuition, but going over the same pros and cons again and again is a waste of time and energy.
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It’s common for people to feel like they’re better at making decisions at their job than they are in their personal life. Why is this? Well, at work we only have a certain amount of time to make decisions. Deadlines may put pressure on us, but they spare us from spending too long agonizing over a single decision.
But while we are forced to make decisions in our work life, we rarely apply this principle to our personal life, especially if these decisions revolve around relationships. Often a person will avoid making a decision that he thinks will harm or hurt another person. Rather than stalling, it is important to decide the best and kindest way to carry out your decision.
What causes this inability to commit to a decision? Why can’t we function in the same way with our loved ones as we do in our work life? What is it that weakens our inner resolve? What keeps us from behaving in a precise and concentrated manner?
The answer is different for everybody, so you’ll need to do some inner searching to find it.
Exercise: Discover the Source of the Pattern
This exercise combines meditation and self-reflection to help you find any underlying causes that may be affecting your decision-making.
Start with this meditation designed to put you in touch with your Higher Self. Towards the end, when it prompts you to ask a question of your Higher Self, ask yourself the questions below.
1. Ask your Higher Self:
• When I decide to do something, does it take me longer than necessary to reach that decision?
• If the answer is yes, ask: Is there a reason for me to take longer than necessary to make up my mind?
• If the answer is no, ask: Is there anything I need to do that I am not doing in my decision-making?
2. If you were given a yes answer in the above exercise, continue with the following:
• Taking the reason given, look at it carefully and try to analyze whether you do this all the time, some of the time, etc. Then, notice if there is a pattern that occurs in your decision-making.
3. If there is a pattern, ask your Higher Self:
• Is there a root cause or a core belief that is activating this pattern? If so, what is it?
4. Again, if this is a yes and you have the root cause, ask your Higher Self:
• Does this root cause come from childhood conditioning? Does it come from past lives? Or is it just a bad habit you’ve fallen into over many years of reinforcement?
Overcoming the Pattern
Once you’ve discovered the source(s) of the pattern, you can start working to overcome it. Ask your Higher Self for a process that will help you change this pattern and follow it diligently. It is also important to do a nightly review to determine if you are catching yourself in the pattern and changing it.
Doing the above is not going to be easy. Any conditioned pattern takes time to change, so do not be discouraged if you are still not aware of the pattern until after you have acted it out.
When you feel you have mastered the pattern of how you respond to making decisions, then it is time to look at the many areas in your life where you need to make decisions.
The importance of making decisions around these issues is primary in any spiritual teaching. To grow spiritually requires discipline, and an unresolved issue breaks down discipline. Remember, it’s important to make a choice, whether it is right or wrong. If it turns out to be wrong, look at your decision-making process. Did you really think it out correctly? Did you take the time to list all the pros and cons of the given situation, work with the lists using both your mind and heart, and then decide? Or, did you quickly come to a decision without going through this process?
Be gentle with yourself in this process, and know that you are making big strides forward even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. Take time to celebrate the moments when you have made decisions effectively, and continue to refine your process.