Imagine the energy and space you could have if you didn't ruminate on whether you are making the right decision? I've noticed in myself, and in the women I know and work with, that making decisions takes up a HUGE part of our consciousness. We ruminate by day, we talk to our friends/colleagues/partners, we ponder and lose sleep at 4am. And, to get geeky for a minute, making decisions (and debating whether we made the right one after the fact) uses the executive center of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) which also uses the most energy. So wouldn't it be wonderful to get efficient at making decisions, and to move on confidently once we have?
This past week I had to make a decision that had the potential to affect the next couple of years of my life. I spent time thinking about how I could make the wrong decision, I was in a foul mood as I pictured the consequences, foreseeing negative experiences whichever path I chose. After I made the decision, the mind chatter began and I watched myself plunge into a spiral of imagining 2 years of self flagellation for this (possibly) wrong decision.
In the midst of that, a friend called me who was also making a difficult deicision. Hers was much more important than mine, a decision on a medical treatment plan. She had similar concerns though: "What if I make the wrong decision?". I heard myself say to her "there is no wrong choice to make". And I realised that's also true for me, there isn't a wrong choice-the only way to do this wrong is to make a choice and then use it against myself. I posed a few questions to myself: "How hard can I love myself despite the decision I make?". "How much can I approve of the decision no matter what it brings?" When things dont turn out the way I wanted, or I have to deal with some of the consequences that concerned me as I was making the decision-what if I just decide to absolutely love myself anyway and bask in that approval?
"Sounds wonderful" I hear you say, but how the hell do I do that?
Likely, you already know what your going to say to yourself when something challenging occurs related to your decision. Those thoughts aren't new, they are lying in wait for an opportunity to make their entrance. So plan for them.
Step 1: Write down the top 3 things you might say - shine a light on them. For me, I know that given the decision I made, it will be easy for me to say "I knew I shouldn't have said yes, now I'm overwhelmed and cranky".
Step 2: Decide what your comeback will be, and write that down too. Maybe you say to yourself "I made the best decision with the information I had, and I know I'm exactly where I need to be." or "I trust myself completely", or "This is happening for me, not to me".
Writing them down and bringing attention to these thoughts will make you more able to spot them when they happen unconsciously. Practice saying the negative criticism and then responding with your comeback, so you begin to teach your brain to do it automatically. It's fascinating to watch our brain try to take us on the ride of self criticism, but so powerful to at least be able to notice, even if we can't always stop it.
The number of decisions we have to make is increasing, as we are offered more and more options of how we spend our time and our money. Let's make sure we don't expend even more of our precious energy on beating ourselves up for the ones we make.