J. L. McGalliard
You make decisions all the time. Usually, they come naturally to you and without even really thinking. Yet, you're probably plagued by big decisions that seem to have big consequences.
Why do some decisions seem to be a bigger deal than others? You tell yourself that it's the impact of those choices that really creates a dividing line between big ones and small ones. When you really examine this, is it true? What if I told you that it isn't the impact, but rather YOUR judgments?
Let's look at an example of what appears to be a small decision and a big decision.
A "small" decision
When you wake up in the morning and turn on the coffee maker, you've decided that you will drink coffee. What are the consequences of making this decision? You might feel a sense of comfort when you drink your coffee. You may also feel energized and ready to tackle your day. You will also have a dirty dish you'll have to clean later. What about the coffee grinds? You'll have to throw those out too. Then there's the effort and work of preparing the filter and waiting for the coffee to brew.
A "big" decision
Your boss just demoted you and now you're doing a job that you don't like, for less money and more time. You could quit. You could start looking for other jobs. You could talk to your boss and see if you can get promoted. There are consequences for each choice. Yet, this feels much "bigger" than the coffee scenario above, doesn't it?
It's all about the judgments
Let’s look at that coffee example from a different perspective. If every time you emptied the coffee grinds into the trashcan, you told yourself, "I HATE coffee grinds. I hate the way they smell and the way they look. I hate coffee grinds so much." It would not take very long for you to probably decide to never make coffee again. You'd probably just go buy coffee every morning instead of worrying about how "gross" coffee grinds are. This would definitely have an impact on your finances. If you added it up, you'd spend nearly $70 a month on coffee alone if you didn't make it at your house. That may not be a lot of money to you, depending on your financial situation, but it is certainly an impact.
Take a minute to follow the logic. In the first scenario, making the decision to make coffee was easy and didn't really have a broad impact. In the replay of the scenario, where negative self-talk was added, the impact became broader and deeper. Nothing else changed! The scenario was exactly the same except YOUR perspective and how YOU communicated to yourself.
By understanding this logic, you can start to change your self-talk and make decisions much easier to make. When you realize that YOU are responsible for the judgments you place on things, you are then in control of those judgments. Maintaining awareness and control over your judgments leads to easy decision making.
A meditation for decision-making
Next time you're faced with a decision that seems really "big," try this meditation. It may help to record yourself reading this meditation out loud so that you can follow it with your eyes closed.
Sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. You can lie down, but make sure you're not going to fall asleep. Then, focus on your breath. Just feel the rhythm of yourself breathing in and out. Once you become familiar with the rhythm, try to slow it down. Follow your natural rhythm, but try to control and maintain it.
Once you feel comfortable with your breath, shift your focus to your heart. Listen and see if you can hear the beats. Where do you feel your pulse? Take a moment to find the beat of your heart and just listen to it.
Now that you've become familiar with your breath and your heart, it’s time to focus on your muscles. Are you holding tension anywhere in your body? Scan your body from head to toe and see if you notice any tension spots. Take a breath in and then breathe out the tension. Let it melt away.
The next step is to listen to what your body is telling you. Think of the big decision you have to make. Break it down into two choices. Take one of the choices and focus on it. Really think about all the potential consequences. As your mind spins with potentials, listen to your body. Is your heart beating faster? Are your muscles tensing up at certain consequences? Make a mental note of what you're feeling as the thoughts pass by.
Do this again with the other choice. Pay attention to your body and how it responds to different thoughts.
Now, when you're ready, scan your muscles and release tension. Feel your heart and listen to it for a moment. Feel the rhythm of your breath and slow it. Then open your eyes.
Immediately record your observations. Write them down. What thoughts created reactions? What were those reactions? When you see that certain thoughts created reactions, these are the places where you have placed judgment. These are the aspects of your life that you have deemed to be very important. You have judged them to be so.
Finally, evaluate these judgments. Why do you feel like these things are so important? Are they as dire as you think they are? Really take the time to step back and attempt to be objective. You may just find that your judgments are coming from a place of fear and not a place of love. What if you approached these subjects with compassion and love for yourself and others? Would it change the judgment? Would it make it less intense?
Journal your thoughts and see what happens. You'll likely find that your decisions are much easier to make once you're aware of the judgments you've placed on them.