When was the last time you made a big decision concerning your health, career, relationship or lifestyle?
In the last twenty years, I’ve had to make some pretty big decisions regarding changing careers, investing money, moving countries, ending relationships and so on that caused my head to spin and leave me feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
If you’ve had to make a big decision, you’ve probably grabbed a piece of paper and written down on one side all the positives and then all the negatives. Nothing wrong with using this technique. In fact, it helps you unpack all the various thoughts, feelings and concerns swirling around your head as you contemplate your big decision.
Indeed by writing them down, it allows you to determine internal concerns you might have such as fear of failure, fear of disappointing someone, fear of not being good enough, fear of looking silly, fear of being judged versus external concerns such as what action should I take, and what are my first steps.
Now I’d like to invite you to think from the perspective of whether you are motivated by fear or love.
To choose fear is to rush into making the decision or to let someone else make that decision for you. Fear makes you stay in jobs you don’t like, purchase things you don’t want or need, settle for second best or choose to stay stuck in a rut and in your comfort zone.
Fear based decision making creates a fight or flight response. You are engaging with your most primitive part of the brain, often referred to as the reptilian part of your brain.
Our reptilian brain is like our default operating system. When we are fearful or feel threatened, we become disconnected from our ability to think clearly, engage in logic or reason, and to learn from our mistakes. We react with haste.
When our decisions aren’t based on fear thinking, they become based on “clear thinking”. Making these decisions is the opposite of fear; love (and I mean love for yourself).
Love makes your whole decision-making process become one of empowerment, because you are connecting with your heart, your inner knowing or intuition. Love can override the reptilian brain and help you move into the neocortex part of your brain so you can be authentic and true to yourself!
Put simply this part of the brain, the neocortex is the part of the brain that deals with such things as sensory perception, spatial reasoning, conscious thought and language.
Ways you could be making fear-based decisions?
Ok I think it’s about time I confess to last year stocking up on toilet paper. That’s an irrational fear. Whilst I didn’t wipe out supermarket supplies and leave nothing on the shelf for the next person, my reaction to the pandemic was to order more than I really needed on Ebay (at a ridiculous price).
Six more signs associated with fear-based decision making are:-
- You can’t make a decision.
- You fear failure or success.
- You ignore those gut feelings.
- You procrastinate like a pro.
- You fear being judged.
- You are afraid of the unknown.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”– Winston Churchill.
I have permission from a friend to share her act of courage in making a love-based decision. Back in June, face masks were mandated indoors and across a whole spectrum of businesses and hospitality venues. My friend told her boss that she had a medical exemption from her doctor, but her boss insisted that she not move from her seat, and not even go to the bathroom unless she would wear one. Her boss yelled at her for refusing to wear one. Calling her an anti-masker and for putting everyone’s life in danger and for being so selfish. She chose to made a stand and walked out of her part-time job at a Lawyers firm.
Making a stand (from the heart) takes courage. She didn’t silence her opinion or lose her authenticity. She stayed true to herself in making this decision; aligning with her values and beliefs.
If we are willing to take the risk, the reward can be liberating. My friend said she now can invest her time into working on her new business venture, a website copywriting business.
And just a little Segway.
When you let fear freeze your brain i.e. fear of making the wrong decision, that too has an impact on your ability to make future decisions.
Because decision making requires a level of skill to do it. The more you do it (and do it with integrity), the better you get at it. The more you let your decision muscles strengthen from a place of love, change and growth … the better you’ll get at it.
So the next time you make a big decision then ask yourself – Are my decisions made through fear or love?
Fiona Craig is a life coach, psychotherapist, business mentor, and published author of the award winning self-help book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.
Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and The New Daily and written articles for Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, Sunday Life Magazine, Career One, I Am Woman Magazine, plus Mouths Of Mums and other online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at www.lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217.