Decision-making can be psychologically agonizing. Should I take this job offer or wait for something better? Is this house the right one to buy? Is it time to end this relationship or commit to it more fully? Often we spin ourselves into mental loops that only prolong and exacerbate the stress. If you’re getting stuck in indecision, here’s a very simple exercise that calls on your body wisdom for help.
First turn off the ringers on all your phones. (Don’t forget the land line!) Then find a comfortable, private, quiet place to lie down. You might want to remove your shoes and jewelry, darken the room, and have a blanket hand – whatever will allow you to focus completely on your feelings and sensations.
Lie down and get comfortable. Try not to think about your impending decision. Just bring your attention to your inner world. How does your body feel? Notice if any areas draw your attention. How are you breathing? Where are you holding tension? Do you feel balanced between your left and right sides? Take a few breaths deep into your belly and keep paying attention to yourself. Do any emotions emerge? It’s really remarkable how little time we spend noticing how we feel!
This check-in will hopefully bring your awareness down from your head into the rest of your body. The goal is not to exclude the mind, but to get you in touch with your whole being so that you can make a more informed decision. Your thoughts on the topic are, of course, important, but so are your emotions and physiological responses.
Once you’ve taken note of your inner world, make a projection statement that expresses one of your options. Say it out loud and make it a statement. Do not ask a question.
For example, “I’m willing to feel the way I will feel if I ______________________.
(marry my beloved, go back to graduate school, take this vacation, etc.)
After you make the statement out loud, do absolutely nothing. Don’t even visualize. Just wait to see what kind of response the statement EVOKES in your body. You may feel relief or an increase in tension. You might burst into tears or hear a very clear opinion on the matter being stated. Sometimes the initial reaction will gradually change into something quite different, so keep paying attention to note if there is a shift in opinion.
Your response may be more subtle, especially if your body is not used to being listened to. In this case, repeat the statement and keep paying attention to yourself. Explore your body’s reaction to the statement as long as you like, but stop if you start to go back into the recursive mental loop.
Note the response and then take a moment to pause before moving on. Take a few deep belly breaths and then make a statement that expresses the other option you’ve been weighing.
For example, I’m willing to feel the way I will feel if I ______________________.
(end this relationship, skip the degree, stay home and get my work done, etc.)
Now notice the reactions that are evoked by this second statement.
You can repeat the exercise for as many options as needed, and you’ll probably notice very different reactions for each one. Trusting these reactions may make your decision easier. At the very least, you’ll know a little more about how you’re really feeling inside.
It makes sense to gather all the information you need when making an important decision, and that includes information about THE WAY YOUR BODY FEELS about the situation!