There are some who make decisions based on an emotional meaning, and those who only use critical thinking. Then there are those who allow their fears to make decisions, and those who relate to past experience and only make the decisions that they are relatively sure will work. What do all these decision-making styles have in common? They are all as valid as each other.
Usually, at this stage, I get comments such as “can’t you see that without critical thinking, there’s no way of making the right decision?”. Yes, you are right. Thinking things through before making a life changing decision is a very good idea.
Then, I get an argument that “you have to take people into consideration when making decisions. You can’t just look at the numbers!!”. Right again. It’s true that we don’t want to overlook our decisions’ cost on ourselves or other human beings. Looking at how my decisions align with myself and others is a very good idea.
At this stage I’m told that I’m flip-flopping, and that I make no sense. My response to this is: what if there is a 4-step process of making decisions that cover all of our decision-making faculties, both thinking AND feeling?
The challenge with arguing about the right way to make decisions is that our decision making is as unique as we are. Much like a 2-party political systems arguing over who is better than who, warring over what kind of decisions are right is never going to end. It is not until we realize that differing values dictate differing decision-making, that we begin to end the war on who is right.
There are as many right ways of making decisions as there are people, and much like in every other area of life, we embrace integrated processes when making decisions.
To achieve integrated and balanced decision-making, we must activate both thinking AND feeling decision-making faculties. There are 2 ways which both of these faculties operate: inward facing and outward facing.
To make balanced thinking decisions, we must ask ourselves whether the decision we are about to make is both effective (outward facing) and accurate (inward facing). In essence, asking ourselves if doing something is an efficient way to carry out the task, and whether we have all the facts to make an informed decision, will help us make good thinking based decisions.
Using only thinking faculties to make a decision has its down side, though. As our thinking faculties are not concerned with feelings of others or ourselves, we may end up making decisions that are not authentic to us, or harmonious in our relationships with others.
That’s why we need to include 2 feeling components to our decision-making as well. To make balanced feeling decisions, we must ask ourselves whether the decision we are about to make feels authentic to ourselves (inward facing feeling consideration), and if it is the most harmonious decision we can make for ourselves and others (outward facing feeling consideration). Making sure to cover the humanity of both ourselves and other allows us to make our decisions through the lens of compassion.
Using only feeling faculties to make decisions has its downside as well. Because our feeling faculties are not concerned with facts about the issue or what’s the best way to resolve it, we may end up building a life of emotional roller coaster. Thus, if we want to live a life of productivity and happiness, we must make our decisions based on each of the thinking AND feeling considerations.
When facing an important life decision, ask yourself these 4 questions:
1. Is this the most effective way of doing this?
2. Do I have all the facts pertaining to this issue, or do I need more details?
3. Is this the most harmonious way of doing this?
4. Does this feel authentic to me?
Answering each of these questions as well as you can will give you more integrated decisions. More integration in your decision-making gives you a more deliberately built life. These questions will harness your wisdom learnt in the past, they will ask you to pay attention to the facts of the present and they help you to stop issues coming up in the future. By using these questions you can deliberately build the kind of life you want.
Are you in a season of change in your life at the moment?
Do you need help with a big decision you are currently facing?
If you answered yes, we may be able to help you:
I have personally trained professional, compassionate and effective coaches to support those who need help with everyday decisions. These amazing people are called Integration Mentors. If you would like to speak with one of these mentors, contact us with your full name, the 3 biggest challenges you are currently facing, your time zone and the biggest city in that time zone and the best times of the week for you to speak and the office will put you in touch with the mentor we feel is the best fit for you.
You are not alone with your struggles, or at least you don’t have to be. We are here to support your journey. We would love to hear from you and see if we can help you resolve your struggles.
You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.