Every day, we make hundreds of choices–from the very minor like brushing your teeth, to major decisions like quitting your job or your relationship.
How much thought have you given to what goes into the choices you make? How often have you said to yourself, “I wish I had made a different choice, or done things differently? How often are you truly satisfied, even happy with your choices?
How aware are you of what thoughts and feelings go into the choices you make? Some choices may seem automatic, requiring little or not thought. Some choices can be made with a short review of the pros and cons. Some decisions are made as the result of pressure you feel from others. And some choices feel so difficult, that you spend a whole lot of time weighing, even agonizing over the decision. You may even make a choice not to decide–which of course, is also a decision.
Spend some time reviewing the choices you make, and what factors go into making that choice.
One way to better understand what goes into your choices is to write down the reasons for your decision. Do this for as many recent decisions as you can. Notice if your reasons are similar for different situations, or if each situation calls for different reasons. Then ask yourself, “Is this the real reason, or is there something else going on?” The “something else” will likely be feelings you don’t want to acknowledge or aren’t even aware of.
Ask yourself, “What feelings are behind the reasons I’ve given myself?” If you allow yourself to look, you will find emotions have generated your actions. When an event occurs–or even thoughts that come up, our initial reaction comes from the Limbic area of our brain, where feelings reside. Over the years you may have learned to suppress unwelcome feelings so regularly you don’t even realize they have occurred.
Your “logical” reasons are often a cover-up for feelings you haven’t acknowledged. Some common feelings that influence our choices are: fear, frustration, anxiety, inadequacy, sadness, jealousy, confusion, the unknown, etc. What I’ve noticed with many people is they truly believe their choices are coming from logic, mainly because the feelings are too uncomfortable to bring to the surface.
Review some of your recent decisions and see if you can focus on what feelings influenced that choice. You might see a pattern start to emerge as to what feelings come up most often. Then think about how your choice turned out and how satisfied you are with the decision you made. When you become more familiar with the feelings that drive your choices, you can begin to evaluate your decisions more objectively and enlist the logical side of your brain to help you become more comfortable with your choices and their outcomes.
Here are some examples of enlisting the logical side of your brain:
- What’s the worst that can happen if I do / don’t do this?
- How much do I place the need to please others over my own well-being?
- Who will be most helped/hurt by this decision?
- What added advantages or disadvantages will occur to me/others from making this choice?
If you have difficulty identifying what feelings are driving your choices, contact me and I’ll be glad to send you a “Feelings Chart.”