How to Make Decisions
November 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
When making big decisions, I’m the kind of person who weighs all my options, thinks about the worst and best possible outcomes, ruminates ad nauseam about what people think about me, who will be mad at me and who will accept me. I consider my future, my past, my reputation. When making big choices I’m up at 3am staring at the ceiling waiting for a sign, turning over tarot cards for an illusive answer, or scribbling my thoughts down into a notebook hoping something clicks.
To give you an idea of how agonizing this is, I’ll tell you a story. When I was 8 years old my dad agreed to get me new curtains for my bedroom. We set out in the morning to look for the “perfect material” that my mom could then sew into drapes. We drove to every single fabric store in Victoria, from the big- box fabric warehouses to the ma-and-pop boutiques on neighbourhood side streets. By the end of the day, I still hadn’t made up my mind. The next morning, weary and disillusioned, we set out again, revisiting those same stores hoping a sign might come down from the heavens –“Buy this one!” a godly voice might suddenly bellow (and by this time my dad was praying for that) — to indicate the “right choice”.
Finally, I settled on a soft floral fabric, though it wasn’t perfect. I’m not sure what I was really after during those two days, perhaps I was not just struggling with the kinds of curtains I wanted but with the kind of person I was. “Hey, what the heck kind of person was I anyway!?” was the question I was absorbed in. Was I a pink floral princess or was I a white linen girl, maybe rather an 80s modernist (I did love Cindy Lauper)? Would I be a punk rocker, should I be buying black? Who I Am was somehow imminently tied up with what curtain fabric I was going to choose.
Maybe an inability to make decisions is also a lack of connection with who we really are and what we actually want, and maybe these times also point to a crossroads.
When we care about the decisions we make it is because we care deeply about life and believe that there is a perfect answer out there in the world that can create some kind of harmony between our inner and outer selves. To this day, I believe this is the truth.
Some choices just feel right and we can’t explain why. I am writing this from a renovated turkey shed on a 15 acre farm. I am isolated by normal standards and cold. I have to walk in the sleet and through the dark fields to arrive home at night. I have to pee under the stars and avoid bucks grazing grass in my front yard, but my heart says “yes” (for now). It knows what is right for me, even when my brain doesn’t have any answers. The times I have lived through logic or obligation (and believe me there were many) I have been left sadly disappointed. When I have fought against my inner wisdom this has only ever robbed me of joyous moments.
Last night I had dinner with an 81-year-old woman. This woman had lived through more pain that most would dream of in her life, including having lost not one but two of her children. Last night she held my hands and told me to repeat these words “I am my own best friend.”
I had never said those words out loud before. She said this was something that I, like her, had probably never learned in life. Being a friend to ourselves is not just a cliché it is about living from the centre of ourselves, and staying in integrity with who we are.
Most decisions require a leap of faith, a step into the void. But perhaps what we’re most after in the choices we make is this: Is what I am doing a decision that brings me into harmony with myself?
If so, we feel it in our bodies. The “right choice” isn’t always something that happens in our minds, it happens in the alignment of our actions with our higher self. Suddenly, if we have made the right choice, we notice we are standing taller. We’ve come into alignment with the Self, we acted from what we believe in and not from fear (which diminishes the self). We’ve been put onto the right path even though we might not know where it leads or what will happen next.
The muscles in the body relax. The heart opens. Possibility awaits.