Making choices is probably the most stressful thing that we do as humans. Or perhaps more accurately, the stressful thing we do is to choose avoidance when we don’t like what choices we’re facing. This is what creates the stress.
It doesn’t have to be that way though, especially if you don’t make yourself solely responsible for the outcome of all the things that you don’t like about your life. Basically we work like this: When we don’t like the result of our choices, we blame ourselves and lose confidence in our ability to make choices in the first place.
None of us can predict the outcome of every choice we make – including how others will or won’t respond to the things we choose for ourselves. And to think that we can, need to, or should is the enemy that so often prevents the feeling of living with purpose.
What we can do, however, when we are fearful about making a choice, is turn towards it, rather than away from it. Get uncomfortable for all of five minutes (that’s literally the length of time of actual discomfort at most), and make a decision in your mind to see how it feels before you act on it. You can learn to do this in just a few moments with practice.
To help you, here are seven strategies for not only making choices, but creating choices that you did know you had:
1. When faced with a choice that you don’t like or want to make, first ask yourself: “In this situation, what choice makes me more of who I want to be in this world?” Your choices are a reflection of what you value most in this world whether that’s love, kindness, integrity, courage, or something else.
2. Reflect on the choice you want to make and then ask yourself: “How will I feel about this choice in 10 minutes? 10 days? 10 months? 10 years?” Your mind can imagine future feelings that will help you to make big decisions like which job to take, what school to attend, or who to marry, etc.
3. Ask yourself a more beautiful question than: “What should I do?” – I guarantee that the answer is never good when the word “should” appears.
Substitute with: What’s the courageous thing to do? What is the loving thing to do? What is the life-serving thing to do? Or make up your own more beautiful question!
4. When in doubt, ask for some space and time before you answer. A few minutes. An hour. A day. A week. No one expects you to answer right away (except you). This way you can still your mind and feel into the right choice for you.
5. Find a “private ear” – someone that will mirror back what you really want for yourself. There’s always a part of you speaking your truth amongst the jumble of other stuff you’re saying. Well-meaning, highly invested people are well-meaning, highly invested listeners.
6. Always give yourself permission to choose again. And again. And again. Practice making choices! If you choose and it doesn’t go well, no need to be stubborn and think “I promised.” No one really benefits when you do something that you don’t want to because it shows and builds resentment.
7. It’s okay to re-open a decision with: “I thought this was what I wanted, but now that I have more insight/information/awareness of how I’m really feeling, I’ve decided …” You will like yourself better for doing this plus you build genuine relationships this way – the kind that you actually want in your life.
The goal: To feel more at home in the world. Of course!
With all my love,
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