Decision Making & Self-Trust - Everything You Need To Know
I used to be a person who could never make decisions, big or small… I was the one who’d stand in the ice cream shop unable to decide if to go for the chocolate, pistachio or strawberry flavour. I could somewhat manage day to day decisions but big decisions (where to live, what to study, what to do for living, what to invest my money on, etc) were agonising.
Not only I really struggled with making decisions, about an hour after I've already made the decision, I would feel like someone punched me in the stomach. It would often keep me awake all night or even bring me to tears. Doubt, doubt, doubt. No matter what decision I made, at the end of the day it was all down to not trusting myself. Can you relate?
Why is decision making so hard?
First, because it always includes giving up on something. You give up the strawberry flavour for the chocolate flavour, you choose one job over another, you decide to invest your money at the expense of something else.
Second, because you never know what will be the outcome of your choice. You never know how a choice will unfold for you. This is exactly where the ‘trust in life/the universe’ concept kicks in. Trusting, even when the outcome isn’t exactly what you had in mind, that a) it’s only a drop in the ocean in the grand scheme of things, and b) there’s always a greater reason.
This trust and conviction in life comes full circle back to self-trust, because it enables us to live less in our rational mind and connect more to our inner wisdom and intuition.
If you're someone who struggles with self-trust on a deeper level you might need, alongside my decision making strategies, to strengthen your self trust muscle. Your ability to trust yourself is in a direct correlation with your ability to manage fear, make decisions and priorities.
Self trust is the power that moves you forward in life, it’s the confidence that attracts whatever you want in life, based on the knowing that you can handle anything.
Explore your self-trust muscle:
Get a notebook and journal on the followings:
Think about a moment in your life where you really trusted yourself. What other qualities can you identify? How did it feel to fully trust yourself?
Write down at least three specific, genuine examples from your personal experience of moments in your life in which at the thick of it you thought it couldn’t get worse but looking, back it’s exactly where you needed to be. Either you learned a lesson from it or it opened up new doors for you.
Think about a person you really trust, why do you trust them?
Notice you don’t trust that person because they have all the answers or because they always make the right decisions. Most likely you trust them because you know that no matter what happens you’ll be safe, you’ll be fine and you’ll survive when you have them along your side.
Self trust is not about having all the answers or always making the right decision, it’s a steadfast conviction that you’ll survive whatever the outcome is.
Self trust grows from a history of promises made and kept, but at the same time from self compassion – forgiving yourself for the promises you broke. This is yet another opportunity to emphasise that no one’s perfect! We can only do the best we can.
Tools & Strategies For Decision Making:
Resist the natural urge to solve things immediately, because we all like to avoid uncertainty. Having said that, don't postpone it because you’re afraid of making the wrong decision. No decision is ever wrong when you know you’ve made it wholeheartedly.
Check in with your core values and life vision. What are the top 5-7 things that really matter to you? Is it courage? Adventure? Growth? Contribution? Connection? Curiosity? Your values are like your inner GPS, they help you see the right direction. Think about the decision you’re trying to make – Which option aligns most with your values? Think about your life vision (where you’d want to see yourself in 5, 10 and 20 years) - Which option would move you a step closer to your goals?
Get still. This is perhaps the hardest step when you have a big decision to make. If you’re like most people your automatic reaction would be to talk with everybody you know and look for the answers ‘out there’. This is your biggest trap! Everyone has something to say and this can make your situation even more confusing, especially if you’re a bit of a ‘people pleaser’ looking for approval. Seeking for approval is a limiting belief, which is blocking you from tapping into your own inner wisdom. Take the time you need to sit still with yourself and feel what’s the right move. You have all the answers within. If you do find it helpful to organise your thoughts by talking to someone, choose one person who is a really good listener and who you can trust. Choose someone who can stay relatively objective and who doesn’t force their opinion on you.
Turn to your intuition. Slow down, pause and create space for your intuition to speak to you. It might be a good idea to do a 10-20 min meditation and then grab your journal and write down on the top of the page a question, such as: ‘What is my next step?’ Or ‘What am I not seeing?’ Or ‘What do I need to know?’
'Weigh' your options. Think about the few options you’re doubting about and “weigh” them, try to feel which option feels ‘heavy’ and draining, and which feels ‘light’ and exciting. Whenever you get that feeling of excitement, curiosity, expansion and feeling energised, that’s your intuition trying to tell you – move on in that direction! When you’re feeling drained, bored, un-interested in something and perhaps even procrastinating, it’s your intuition trying to send you a warning signal.
Have an imaginary consultation. Imagine yourself consulting with your best friend or parent about the decision you’re trying to make. Take a moment to get really honest with yourself. What is the advice you’re hoping to hear? What outcome are you secretly hoping for? There’s your answer?
Identify your ‘fear blocks’. Often we start talking ourselves out of that thing that excites us – “What if I fail? I’m not good enough. I’ve tried it before. what if it doesn’t work?”. This is how we drain our batteries. It’s important to be aware of our own self-talk. It’s natural to get afraid before doing something new. Most people don’t listen to their intuition because it moves them out of their comfort zone. Ask yourself: “What am I afraid of? What would I have done if failing wasn’t an option?”
Visualise. Visualise yourself a few years from now, considering the two (or more) options you have – What do you truly want to see? Imagine not going for the option that scares you the most. Will you regret it? Is it worth feeling safe?
Park it. This is a great strategy if you notice you’re overcomplicating things. If you’re too much in the midst of it take a step back and ‘park it’. You’re not able to see clearly when there’s too much noise.
Listen to your gut. Ask yourself: “How does this decision feel in your body? Clue into your body, what is it trying to tell you? What’s your gut feeling? If you say yes to investing your time, money or energy in something does it feel tight, heavy and stressful, or does it feel spacious, expansive and exciting? Knowing yourself, your fears and thought patterns plays a big role here, as you might find it hard to identify your fears vs. your intuition.
Lean into it. Sometimes you have a clear gut feeling about something and that’s where it’s important to trust and follow your gut feeling, but it’s also important to keep in mind that it’s not always as clear and distinctive, and that’s okay too. If it feels vague (after you’ve explored the above tools), depends on the situation, either see if you can ‘lean into’ one direction and see how that feels, or (if that’s an option) let the universe make the decision for you.
There is no one-right-ultimate solution, trust that eventually you’ll get exactly to where you need to be.
Is there a big decision you're currently struggling to make? I'd love to hear about it! Share it in the comments below and I'll do my best to provide you with a supportive response.