Sometimes, making the right decision for you can be overwhelming. I was recently placed in a position where I had to make a very difficult personal decision. I had known for some time that I would have to face this choice at some point, and I had been dreading that moment because I just had no clue what exactly was the right decision. I found myself falling back into old, ‘panic and protect’ behaviours as a result, if only for a short while, none of which felt right or pleasant.
Finding clarity in the overwhelm of options
What I needed was clarity of the bigger picture so that I could make an informed and calm decision, but how was I going to get there? After I’d talked myself down into a calmer space, I considered the various ways I was going to tackle this challenge, and mapped out a way through. I thought about where I was right then, what I actually wanted in my life, what felt right to me, and which decision would take me there.
Moving from a place of impulse and indecision to a place of calm and confidence
When I was younger and before I started my own journey towards personal growth, I was very much an impulsive person, someone who would tend to act on instant gratification and had a very much ‘to hell with it’ attitude towards making decisions and their potential outcomes, none of which actually brought me closer to inviting what I actually wanted into my life long-term. I would make decisions in the heat of the moment, often with outcomes I definitely hadn’t wanted. However, once I started sorting myself out, I realised that there was a much more effective way to make the important decisions; one which left me feeling that I had used all of my resources in the most informed way to make the best decision. I started to trust myself a lot more and became confident in my own methods to bring me to the best possible point.
What happens to you when your lizard brain takes over
At times of stress or panic, it’s important to remember that the situation has actually permitted your ‘lizard’ brain to take over your mind, so just picture a little lizard in full control of your cognitive capabilities. It doesn’t really fill you with confidence that this cute but ineffectual creature can make a serious decision now, does it? So, utilising ways to calm the stress and panic will send the little critter heading for the hills and allow your developed human brain (your neocortex) to take over and consider situations in a confident and much more realistic fashion.
Steps to reconnect with your neocortex capabilities
1. Weirdly enough, listen to your gut – it’s the voice of your unconscious that has paid attention to all the bits of information that your conscious mind hasn’t the ability to absorb. it’s shouting out, loud and clear, telling you what to do. Take some time to listen to it again and again, and if it’s still saying the same thing over a period of time, then go for it.
2. Imagine it was your best friend facing this challenge of yours; what would you say to her in your situation?
3. Take a deep breath and think about what your own values are. Now place the challenge next to your values and ask yourself ‘Do they align?’ You’ll know what to do next.
4. Accept that there may well be pros and cons of whichever choice you make. Acknowledge this, accept this, and go confidently into your decision. After all, only hindsight is 20/20. Know that right now, you’re doing the best you can, with what information you have.
5. If you can, set yourself a personal deadline by which time you’ll have made a decision. Once you have, you’ll have more control over the situation and are more likely to work with the timeline.
New habits take time to bed-in so go easy on yourself
Don’t get frustrated with yourself if it takes you a while to put these techniques in place; it takes time to retrain your brain to a new way of behaving and developing news habits. And sometimes, you’ll even find yourself heading back into your old ‘panic and protect’ behaviours. Be kind to yourself, you’ll always be a work in progress. Just get back up and go again.