The quality of our life is largely dependent on the decisions that we make everyday. The big decisions -- like where to live, which job to take, who to marry -- and the accumulation of smaller decisions -- like what to eat for breakfast, which TV show to watch, who to take our lunch break with -- have profound and lasting impact on our lives.
As I am writing this, I am thinking about how many decisions I have made already today and holy-moly it’s A LOT (and I didn’t even realize that I was making them!).
So how do we make all of these decisions? Why do we make the choices that we make? How can we make conscious and connected decisions that guide us towards the life that we want?
Here are some of my thoughts:
Sometimes we make decisions based on primitive or instinctual intelligence. These decisions are driven by fear, anger, or desire. Our primitive decision-making skills are there for a reason so we can react when faced with danger (like fight back or run away fast), but this type of decision making can lead us astray when we use it in daily life. These decisions are usually more impulsive and might look like avoiding a difficult (but necessary) conversation out of fear, yelling at someone out of anger, or getting sexually involved with someone (who is not so great for you) out of desire.
Another way that we make decisions is through the intelligence of our logical mind. Our mind is great at conceptualizing, rationalizing, weighing pros and cons, and making up best and worst case scenarios of any given situation. Of course we need our logical mind to help us to make informed decisions, but choices that are made solely from the intelligence of the mind often are based on what our parents/friends/society tell us is safe or correct, and they can feel empty. Also, our minds have a tendency to focus on the negative stuff as a survival mechanism, so the stories we tell ourselves about possible consequences are usually not accurate. These decisions might look like taking the “safe” career path when you have dreams to do something different, dating the person that looks good on paper when you don’t feel the spark, or putting all your money into savings when you really want to spend on travel.
The final source of intelligence that we can call upon when making decisions is the intuition. Intuition is the knowledge of the soul. Intuition is the heart-based intelligence that guides us to our highest self -- to our life’s purpose. I used to think that intuition and instinct were the same thing -- they are not. Intuition is a feeling, an inner knowing. Instinct is a protective response. Instinct is lower-level fear-based intelligence, intuition is higher-level knowledge. Contrary to what I previously thought -- following your intuition does not mean that things will be all rainbows and butterflies; things will not feel good and comfortable all of the time. Following your intuition means that you will feel the fear and discomfort that comes with growth and transformation, but you will be able to start to distinguish this type of discomfort from more instinctual fear. It will start to feel not-so-scary because you will start to feel that you are being held by an intelligence that is bigger than just you. Making decisions from the intelligence of the intuition looks like following your soul’s calling no matter what, even in the face of fear, discomfort, and uncertainty.
So, next time you have a decision to make (which is many times a day), stop and check in. How are making this choice? Are you reacting impulsively out of fear, anger, desire? Are you calling upon the intelligence of your mind and making a pros and cons list or imaging best and worst case scenarios? Are you getting on your yoga mat or meditation cushion and tapping into the intelligence of your intuition?
How can you combine the intelligence of your head and your heart to make decisions that guide you towards the life that you want?
Thank you so much for reading! I would love to know your thoughts on this topic, so please feel free to contact me!