Do you find it hard to make decisions?

oie_1ixwaQVEzE4jIt’s summertime and many people are wondering where to go on holiday.

If you agonise over this or other decisions, know you’re not alone.

Elaine Aron, a dedicated researcher on sensitivity, observes that most sensitive people find decisions challenging.

If you live inside “thin skin”, you’ll know it already.

Do you also know that – paradoxically – sensitive people make better decisions overall? *

The opposite of what you’d think

Would you have guessed that you may well make better decisions than the majority of people?

I would have said the opposite was true, given how much I’ve stressed making choices in life, including much umming and erring over relatively small, everyday decisions.

Just looking through a restaurant menu could bring on overwhelm in me. Amidst the possible  considerations, deciding can take uncomfortably long and you end up still unsure of your choice.

Can you relate?

If you take long time over decisions too, you could easily conclude that you have a problem. Especially if you compare yourself to other people who are better at accommodating the current social bias for the bigger, brighter, faster.

What if the truth is opposite of what you think?

The reasons not to worry

Some time ago I attended a conference where I had pleasure in meeting an older colleague.

His energy inspired such confidence that I risked asking him about something that bugged me:

How come that some people had such high self-esteem that they insisted on being provided certain high standards while I typically couldn’t imagine myself demanding quality treatment?

He surprised me with answering my question with a question: “You meant ‘how come they have such low-esteem’, surely?”.  I gulped.

With one elegant reply, my colleague showed me why there was no reason to worry about myself.

Also, he opened my eyes to the hoodwinking properties of the general culture which leads you to admire what looks strong. Look deeper and it may not actually be so!

Permission to look more deeply

Luckily, naturally more sensitive people need no encouragement to go deeper. Deep processing is typical of a highly responsive personality.

And, you may need a bit of encouragement to trust yourself more. Especially if your inner preference goes agains the grain of what’s admired by general culture.

For example.

When it comes to making decisions, have you come across a view that quick decisions are more valuable than good ones?

I know I’ve worried about taking time to make decisions because of this generalisation.

If not careful, generic views can undermine your individual, accurate reading of a situation where it differs from a known/respected perspective.

Stop to think more carefully, and you’ll realise that times when any decision made quickly is preferable to a good one are rather rare.

In those type of situations, there’s probably not much room for being clever about it anyhow. Fast, instinctive action will or will not arise as part of your inborn capacity to survive. Period.

MOST decisions needn’t be made in a hurry, however-much speed is admired these days.

That faster decisions are better or that you may be “too slow” are only opinions, not facts.

How would it be if you re-granted yourself an absolute permission to consider things deeply?

Chances are, you know the feeling of doubting yourself when you take your time, yet you must also know the clarity and connection with life that come when you allow your natural care and rhythm to work. Don’t you?

Hints for feeling “on track”

If you’re reading this with a feeling of wanting more specific guidance, I’ll leave you with the following few hints.

So far, I’ve said that it’s important not to worry about yourself. This is not only to avoid being disempowered by something that isn’t true but especially because worry obscures clarity.   

HINT: Have you noticed how when you worry and try harder to get things right, it gets harder, not easier to see the way forward?

Secondly, when you’re working on a particular decision and feel your anxiety and/or confusion go up, it’s vital to take a time out.

Granted, it may not be so easy given that the voice of anxiety urges you to “DO something!”.

HINT: What I find increasingly helpful at those times is to REMIND myself that the quality of my thinking decreases with pushing whereas new, better ideas find me more when I relax, e.g. seeing solutions when showering, walking, reading, etc.  

Thirdly, I believe the quality of your decisions corresponds to the place you make them from, within the spectrum of confusing overanalysis to non-efforting “seeing”.

Where are you on this spectrum when you’re choosing what to do?

This question applies to all decisions, including those where a lot of data needs to be made sense of in the process. There comes a certain point when it’s time to commit and the resulting decision will reflect where you made it from.

Most people have experienced a sense of “seeing” the choice they need to make.

How did those moments come about for you?

What does your hindsight say about the feel of a life-serving decision (as opposed to a decision that feels easy or good but that you may come to regret?)

Is there anything that gives you a clue about being “on track”, something in your heart or gut  or whatever deepest way of sensing you’ve got?

If you’re not sure of your answers right now, I recommend you take the questions to accompany you next time you go for a walk or sit down to a new page in your journal.

Now about regrets. Have you ever noticed how even things you first regret, it’s possible to eventually see as the mistakes that helped you become more of who you are?

Another reason to worry less, if you needed it 😉

What would happen if you took all your inside-out understanding most seriously, much more so than tracking “expert” advice, including mine?

HINT:  My inner noticing is suggesting these days that it actually doesn’t work for me to analyse what happened in similar situations in the past. Even though the urge to do it is still very strong in me.

I automatically WANT to analyse because that’s how my years of schooling drilled me to use thinking.

So for now, I need to consciously remind myself to pause weighing pros and cons so there’s space for the newer, wiser understanding to come in. I ask myself to “pause all conclusions”. I keep getting surprised how much this helps me see new, better choices.

Blessings for how you find yours, dear reader.

Gently does it, and if not, you can always try slowing down under a long, warm shower or a cool summer swim. Your choice 😉


* Elaine Aron talks about sensitives making better decisions overall in this online article