Lately some heavy-duty decision making has come my way. And with it a truckload of ‘what ifs’ have entered my head. Needless to say, being as highly developed as I am spiritually this doesn’t faze me at all. I just sit, meditate for a bit and, lo and behold, the decision just comes rolling out. NOT! I wish! It’s more the case that, me being human, I start making pro and con lists, intricate excel sheets awarding points to all options, which I end up binning after I wake up one morning to find the solution in my mailbox. Or the magazine I happen to read, or the conversation I find myself in, or…

Deciding to decide to decide

Now, I do not really think that decision making exists. There is always only the one option, really, in the essence. Just think about it, when does the decision making process really begin? Is it at the point where we think we have to make a choice? Or is it before that? When do we decide to decide? Or decide to decide to decide? Is there ever a starting point? And what’s more, the idea of making a well thought over decision implies that we can actually oversee the forces that are involved in our lives and the consequences that one path will have which another will not. That’s just an illusion. There is no way we can see even half of what is going on around us. But still, sometimes we will have the feeling we have to decide whether to go right or left. How do we do that?

Go with your gut

The thing is that for the really important issues pros and cons lists and rational thinking just don’t work. The options are either so clearly better or worse than their alternatives that you don’t need lists or they are both so good (or bad) that the lists just seem to enhance how little it matters. The best option in case of the latter type of decisions is to just go with your gut. Your gut is never wrong. But how do you know what your gut’s decision is. Well, that one is easy: it is the decision that gives you a lasting sense of peace. The great thing is that we all have access to a subconscious, a part of our mind that does not operate on a conscious level, but stores a wealth of knowledge and experience. We only have access to that wealth if we let go of trying to consciously reason our way through the decision making process. It’s exactly that part of us that springs into action when we are doing stuff, like getting off the bus, taking a shower, and the solution or answer just pops into our head.

How does this decision feel?

What I often do with my children when they again have one of these important life or death kind of decisions to make (‘will I use my resources for bush craft or horse riding?’) is that I offer to make the decision for them. So I will say that he or she will be using the money on horse riding. If that verdict results in a very unhappy face, the child in question then realises he or she actually prefers to go and do the bush craft. Or, if I see a happy face, we know that horse riding was a good bet. It works for me as well. Like the other day, we were in the process of awarding points to several options in a matter important to our family. My husband remarked very astutely that he was surprised that I had awarded two plus-points to an option that he didn’t think really appealed to me. He was dead right. As soon as he said it, I got this restless feeling thinking about this option. I had actually given these two points using my conscious mind, reasoning my way through the process. But my gut told me: ‘Nooooo! Don’t do it!!’ (imagine deep voice in slo mo).

When none of the options seem to fit, wait a bit

And then the morning after there was a message in my inbox from someone I didn’t know, who told me about her practical solution that exactly fitted my dilemma, which all of a sudden made an option that seemed problematic before perfectly workable. And my heart just sang! I hopped into the living room to tell the children and realised right away that I could toss that whole document in the bin, because this is what I ultimately wanted. Anything that didn’t lead up to that, wasn’t for me. My gut had told me what the right option was.

As you will understand I never make a wrong decision. No, really, not joking this time, I don’t. I sometimes make decisions that turn out differently than I had expected and get me into spots of trouble. But they are never wrong decisions. They were the only possible decision for me at that particular point in time with that specific outlook on matters. And they taught me a lot, each and everyone of them. Even those that cost me a lot of money or gave me a lot of grief. I’m not saying I never ever thought ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’, but only for a second, before consciously realising what this “wrong” decision had brought me. It could be life experience, standing up for myself, new people in my life or even getting to know the things I don’t want in life.

Wrong decisions don’t exist

Maybe that is the most comforting thought of all: there is no wrong decision. Instead of focussing on all that can go wrong, focus on all that can go right. Think about what you’d like to do most or like to achieve most and choose the option that enables that. That way your decision will come from hope and not from fear.

The long and short of this is: go with your gut, realise that there is no (wrong) decision and don’t forget to have fun.

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