People always say we should make decisions rationally, logically, without emotion.
* Try telling that to someone is deciding if they should quit their job and give up everything to move across the country so they can live with someone they love.
* Try telling that to a woman who just had a miscarriage and is deciding if she has it in her to try to get pregnant again.
* Try telling that to a mother who is deciding if she should take a promotion while her kids are young.
Decisions are FULL of emotion.
Ignoring them just isn’t an option.
How Can I Make Emotional Decisions?
Imagine a world where your choices are not limited to what’s rational. Instead they’re guided by a deep awareness of who you are, what you (really) want, what your values are, what your personality is like.
No decision is perfect.
There is going to be something you gain and something you lose. What if you knew how to mitigate the feeling of loss, knew how to process grief, how to shift your perspective on guilt?
I’m not saying we need to make decisions in the heat of the moment. But to take out the emotion is to neglect a huge part of what makes us feel satisfied with our choices, with our lives; it removes the acknowledgement of the pain that goes into some choices, and can limit the joy that is possible on the other end of a decision.
I don’t know how to make the BEST decision. (I wish I did, not just because I’m writing a book on decision making!).
But I think what’s important is what is the best decision FOR YOU.
And you can’t figure that out without emotion. If it was just logic, we’d all be making the same choices. Wanna move in with me? ;p
Here are some things that have helped me, let me know if they help you too.
Understanding The Emotion In Order To Make A Better Decision
Just because we feel something, doesn’t mean we understand it. You might think you feel angry but really, you feel vulnerable. Sometimes anger is easier, more comfortable. But it’s an entirely different emotion, with a different thought process. And if you knew (or admitted) that you were feeling vulnerable, would you make different choices? Would you behave differently?
This is not easy to do but I think critically important. Listen to my interview with Dr Joan if you want more information on this. We talked about strategies to manage difficult emotions.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re reflecting on your emotional awareness:
– what sensations am I feeling (jittery, tense)?
– what thoughts are running through my mind?
– am I reacting to a specific event or trigger?
Is It An Emotion Or A Thought? The Answer Could Change Your Decisions.
When we have emotions, it’s usually tied to a thought. You might have a very real, very valid emotion but the thought associated with it, is something assumed and automatic.
If I work long hours, I have an emotion about what that means for my kids, what kind of mother I am, what I ‘should’ be doing.
When I don’t untangle the emotions and the meanings or the thoughts that are connected to my emotions, the decision becomes less deliberate. I start making choices based on what I assume that emotion means, which may or may not be true.
I might need to deal with sadness or fear (my emotions), but that’s separate from what it means for my life or my future or my kids’ needs. We need to address both the thoughts and the emotions.
What Are Your Values When It Comes To Making The Best Decision For You?
We’re conditioned to define success in certain ways. When I make decisions, I’m trying to hold on to my own definition of success. And even that evolves so much. There are days when I doubt my definition because I see other people hustle, or hear about things that we ‘should’ do in life. And when those emotions surface, it always helps to come back to what’s important to me, and in what order. When I know my values and what’s important to me, I can make decisions that align with my values.
In my eyes, decision making isn’t about dismissing logic or emotion. It’s about finding a balance between what gets me to my goals, what I’m willing to do or give up, and how prepared I am to handle (or heal from) any consequences.
I’m interested, how does emotion impact your decisions?