How I’m Making Choices this Year

The recent Black Mirror Bandersnatch episode on Netflix has really got me thinking about choice. We’re in a world full of choice. For dinner we can go out, have a box of fresh produce delivered with a recipe guide, order deliveroo, make a meal from pretty much any country with an abundance of produce in the shops and even hire a private chef when we win the lottery. There are so many options and choices when we wake up every day. I feel lucky to have so much choice but I also feel the pressure of how this cornucopia of choice can become a curse. I get the feeling that sometimes I’ve been spoilt rotten with the number of things I can do, food I can eat and places I can visit. Having so much choice makes me feel like life is a whirl wind of clicking, choosing, and thinking about what if I’d chosen that instead? With all this choice comes Choice’s cousin, Indecision.

This year, I’m working on how I make choices. Below I’ve written out some of the ways I’m tackling this task and who’s inspired me along the way. Whether you’ve got a wedding choice, work choice, relationship choice or what shall I have for dinner choice, I hope that some of these ideas can help you feel like you’re not alone if you too are feeling choice overwhelm. (please note, I’m not a qualified choice expert so this blog post can be taken with a pinch of salt and a dusting of your own common sense).

Photo by  Sophie Carefull

Making a confident choice over pondering what could be better

We’re under so much pressure to want to get our choices and decisions right, sometimes we don’t even make a choice. This idea developed from listening to Tessa and Stevie’s Nobody Panic Podcast. It’s a brilliant podcast full of life lessons that are discussed in a lighthearted and hilarious way. In their How to Make a Choice episode, they talk about if the choice is good enough then that’s the choice to go for, it doesn’t have to be the perfect one. We’re each the best qualified person to make decisions for ourselves. Sometimes we just want other people to take control of our decisions because the pressure to decide alone is just too much. In the podcast they also discuss how you can change your mind over time because you change as a person. Sometimes you can be one person and make one decision and then along the road you may change and so will your decisions. It’s ok to change opinion and step onto another path. A choice doesn’t have to be a concrete mold, instead it’s fluid.

Photo by  Sophie Carefull

Trusting my gut

For ages I heard people say ‘trust your gut’ but I couldn’t fathom how to even hear my gut’s advice in the first place! For a long time I’ve struggled with telling the difference between the voice that guides me instinctively and the imposter syndrome voice in my head. The one that tells me I can’t and shouldn’t do something (when actually I can and I should). In Tara Mohr’s book, ‘Playing Big’ Mohr talks about the difference between your realistic thinker and your inner critic and her writing has totally helped me understand ways to find the difference between the two:

‘The realistic thinker in us is forward-moving. She seeks solutions. The critic will spin and spin, ruminating on the risks and worst-case scenarios. The critic often speaks in an anxious, emotionally charged tone. The realistic thinker is grounded, clear-eyed, calm. Many of us hold the belief that “realistic thinking” is skeptical if not pessimistic, but in fact realistic thinking is inquisitive, exploratory, and highly creative.’ (p.7 Tara Mohr: Playing Big).

This amazing explanation has already helped me when I need to listen to my thoughts when it’s time to make a choice. I’ve realised that for a long time my inner critic voice has been dominant, probably because I’ve been listening to it for so long. Since I’ve read Tara Mohr’s book, I've identified that voice as my inner-critic, and I’ve discovered there’s a second voice behind it. The one that’s more open to possibility, the voice of my ‘realistic thinker’. I’m therefore practicing listening to the realistic thinker in my head, the one that’s more enthusiastic and supportive and thinks about ways to get round a problem, rather than stopping in front of it, turning around and running in the opposite direction.

Photo by  Sophie Carefull

Relaxing and realising I know the answer deep down

I was listening to the Goop Podcast ‘The Power of the Unconscious Mind’ and heard a really interesting interview with psychiatrist Srini Pillay. He was talking about the way we focus and don’t focus and how times when we aren’t focusing can be a benefit to us. When your brain is at rest, your brain starts to put together the puzzle pieces of information it’s been picking up along the way. If you give your brain time to rest, it takes memories from the past and things you’ve noticed and puts them together, this can even benefit like a ‘chrystal ball’ in some ways and helps you process predictions. I noticed similarities in Tara Mohr’s book when she mentions women having an inner mentor, ‘When a problem seems overwhelming and complicated, the wise part of you has a simple, elegant answer.’ (p. xxvii Tara Mohr: Playing Big)

Pillay says, ‘Go back to your most original self’. From this, I understood that we follow so much of other people’s advice and thoughts that we lose track of our own internal knowledge of what is right for us. He talks about his method of: Possibility Thinking. ‘Now you’re not walking through sludge in your brain, you’ve loosened up this material and you’re beginning to feel like stuff is possible.’ You’re brain wants to and is willing to rise to the occasion to face choice, possibility and challenges. Deep down your unconscious will try and find a way when the answer seems difficult on the surface. If you’re in a relaxed state then you feel like possibility is there and it comes to you like it knows it’s way towards you through a maze. Engaging your imagination is a great way to increase your excitement towards possibility and Pillay explains how lack of time imagining can have a negative effect, ‘when our imaginations fail us we’re not able to think about possibility.’

So there are the 3 methods I’m using to make decisions. From all this podcast listening and reading I’ve picked up breadcrumbs of knowledge on choice and decision making and have put them together to help me find methods when I’m making choices this year. Looking back at them all, I’ve realised they all blend together and complement each other. I’m going to work towards: making a confident choice and not pondering what could be better once I’ve made that choice. Trusting my gut and not listening to my inner critic. Relaxing and having more down time and day dreaming so that my unconscious mind can have space and time to find the answer for me.

I’d love to hear what you’d like me to write about over the next few months. Message me here and let me know any topics you’d like covered.

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Some weekend inspiration for you…