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4 Steps to Making Better Decisions

Let your inner wisdom show you the way.

It’s super stressful to be faced with important decisions but we all face them sometimes. There are decisions and there are decisions—some with considerable weight and consequences. Should I change jobs, buy this house, leave the marriage, marry her, marry him, buy a car, relocate, have the surgery—serious life decisions that require discernment. That means really doing a soul searching, thorough thought process aimed at reaching as good a decision as possible. In my work as a therapist, I spend many hours helping my patients process life decisions and having some tools might be useful.

Be assured that you have been working on developing a sense of self your entire life and we all have an inner wisdom that informs much of what we do. You know what makes you uncomfortable, angry or just not right and also have a good idea of what does feel really right. The ability to interpret your own inner wisdom has to do with developing the skill of listening to inward cues. It takes a lifetime to perfect this skill but learning to call on our inner wisdom is an invaluable tool in leading an authentic life, being true to ourselves and making decisions. It’s pretty ideal when you can put your head on a pillow at night and feel peaceful and confident that you are living a life that is best for you. So how do you push aside all the noise, learn from your inner wisdom and act on what is best for you? Here are some things that might help.

1. Find a quiet place and time to think.

You need to carve out time to think—time and a place where you can be alone with your own thoughts. It can be, for example, while on a walk, exercising at the gym, sitting on a beach, during a long bus ride, or while alone in your kitchen when no one else is awake. You need time to push aside the noise of life and think.

2. Is this the right time to be making this decision?

Are other important, overwhelming things happening in your life at this same time. If so, consider that you will be seeing things through the lens of confusion and distracted focus.

3. Identify the pragmatic concerns that support a decision.

What are the facts and how do they compare? Does what you are deciding to do make sense for you or not? Try to examine if you are being consistent with who you are and does it match up with how you usually do things. Are you being reactive to something? Would you be doing something completely out of character and can you be okay with that.

4. Engage your inner wisdom by imagining possible outcomes.

During that quiet time, listen to your inner wisdom by thinking about how you actually feel when you imagine one direction your decision might take and that outcome and compare it to how you feel when you imagine another direction and the other outcome. Pay close attention to which decision feels peaceful, joyful or happy and compare it to the decision that feels uneasy, upsetting or agitating. Does the thought of one outcome cause you panic? How you feel with an imagined outcome is an important consideration when thinking through a decision.

Finally, be willing to live with your decision. Facing important decisions is really stressful so keep that in mind and your expectations of yourself realistic. Remember you’re not perfect. Less than perfect decisions are what life is made of.

More from Maria Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
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More from Maria Baratta Ph.D., L.C.S.W.
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