Disclosure: There might be affiliate links on this page. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links but it will be at no additional cost to you.
All of us have difficult decisions to make at some point in our lives.
Perhaps it’s a career decision you have to make. You don’t know what you should do for a living. Or you are torn between doing something you love and something financially rewarding.
Maybe you have to make tough decisions in love and relationships. You are not sure if you should stay or leave a romantic relationship. Or you meet someone new but you have doubts if he or she is right for you.
You might have a life-changing decision to make. For example, you are wondering if you should move to another city or go back to school.
It could even be a moral dilemma that you have. You saw your colleague’s husband with another woman in a cafe. They seem to be affectionate with each other. Do you tell your colleague and possibly risk ruining their relationship?
Being indecisive keeps us stuck.
When we don’t come to a decision, it’s like having an open program or app that runs in the background. It takes attention and energy away from what truly matters to us.
So in this blog post, you are going to learn how to make the best decision for yourself. But first, let’s see why some decisions are so difficult to make.
Why Is It So Tough to Make a Decision?
Your Head and Heart Are in Disagreement
Oftentimes, we struggle to make a decision because there is a conflict between the head and the heart. For example, your heart calls you to do something you love for a living but your head tells you it’s better to find a career with a stable income. Or in the matter of love, you found someone that you are attracted to but you don’t think he is right for you.
When your head and heart are in disagreement, it’s difficult to come to a decision. If you choose to follow your heart, you are afraid of making an impulsive or emotional choice that you later regret. But if you just follow your mind, you feel unfulfilled like something is missing.
Your heart tells you to go one way but your head tells you to go the other way.
So what do you listen to?
To make a good decision, both your head and your heart have to be considered and not brushed aside. They must align with each other and be in complete unison. If not, there will be split energy. Even if you have decided on a path, there will still be some lingering thoughts in the background, wondering what will happen if you have chosen the other path.
Your Choice Affects Other People
Another reason why it’s so difficult for some of us to make a choice is that our decision affects people around us and we want to take them into consideration. For example, if your family depends on you financially and you want to pursue your dreams, you might be hesitant to do so. Or if you want to leave your partner and get a divorce, you might be afraid that your children will be hurt in the process.
On a personal level, we are indecisive because we are afraid of making mistakes. We don’t want to do something we later regret. But on a social level, we don’t want to hurt and disappoint others, get blamed and shamed for making the wrong choices, or be perceived as a failure or selfish.
We don’t realize our indecisiveness is mostly due to external perception.
Or rather, what we believe or assume other people might think of us if we make a particular choice.
We think we are being considerate. But what we are unaware of is underneath this concern for others is our own egoic need to avoid being perceived negatively by others. We are afraid of making a decision that is unpopular and unsupported by others. We care so much about what others think of us that we end up overthinking the situation and go against our natural desire.
How to Make a Difficult Decision in Life, Relationship, and Work
1. Make sure you are calm before you make any decision.
People make bad choices when they are too emotional. For instance, they panicked when they saw the stock market plunging and they sold their stock hastily at a loss, only to find out the stock price bounced back after a few days. Or they felt extremely lonely, they met someone in the bar and quickly developed a relationship with the person, only to find out the person treats them badly and is not right for them.
When we are emotionally charged, we tend to make impulsive or bad decisions we later regret. But most of us don’t take a moment to check in with our emotions before we make a decision. Without any awareness, we either follow our emotional impulses or let our emotions run our thought process.
To make a sound decision, make sure you are neutral and calm first. If you are heavily charged in favor or against a choice, your decision-making process is most likely to be skewed. You will tend to be too optimistic or too pessimistic. Even when you are presented with good advice or information that will help you make a better decision, you are not going to hear it. You will ignore any information and red flags that opposes your beliefs and readily accept any information that validates what you believe.
It’s not a good time to make an important decision when you are emotionally charged.
You are too biased to hear anything.
That’s why when people are in a bad relationship, everyone else can see how destructive the relationship is for them but they can’t. Or when you are fearful, you are drawn to news and information that paints a bad outlook. But you are not open to helpful advice, solutions, and possibilities.
Sometimes, when people ask me for advice and I see that they are too emotionally charged on the topic, I ask them to take a break and focus on something else. Come back to the topic a few days later when they are more neutral. That’s because the more they think about the topic, the more they are going to overthink and catastrophize the situation. They will then get stuck in analysis paralysis instead of coming to a decision.
2. Identify your intention for making a choice.
For every choice you have, ask yourself what is your intention for doing so. Why are you choosing this path? When we are clear about our intentions, our decisions become clear too.
People find it difficult to make a decision because they are deciding from lower vibrational states such as fear, anger, and shame. They are not choosing based on love, peace, and joy, which is natural. When you focus too much on the negative aspects of your choices, it’s difficult to choose anything.
A fearful person will see all their choices as imperfect and get stuck in overthinking and indecision. A loving person, on the other hand, focuses more on the benefits that each option brings. I’m not saying you shouldn’t think about the cons. It’s good to know why you don’t want something, but it’s more important to know why you want something. It’s only when you see the purpose and rewards in taking a path that you feel drawn to it.
Ask yourself, “Is my decision based on love or fear?”
and choose the path of love.
Furthermore, knowing our intention helps us to make better decisions that truly benefit others and us. For example, when someone hurts you, taking revenge on them might make you feel better for a little while. But in the long run, it feels empty as it is based on anger and resentment, and we aren’t acting from our Highest Self. You will be better off if you tend to your own broken heart and fill yourself up with love, rather than taking revenge and hurting others. Only actions that are based on love will feel fulfilling.
It takes practice to recognize our intentions. Sometimes, we might mistake love for other emotions. For instance, when you help someone, are you doing it out of love or doing it out of worry? Our ego will rationalize and tell us a story that makes us believe we are acting from love when we are not.
One way to tell is to check how your intention makes you feel. If it’s based on love, it will always feel light. Negative emotions always feel heavy as though you are carrying tons of bricks.
3. Understand what’s important to you.
Creating a pro and con list has its merits. But it’s not about which list is longer. You have to be aware of what’s important to you too.
Sometimes, one benefit is so important to you that it outweighs all the cons it has. For example, if spending time with your newborn is your biggest priority, then you might choose to give up your career and be a stay-home parent even if it means you are earning less.
On the flip side, something can be such a non-negotiable to you that you won’t even consider it despite all the benefits it has. For instance, if the non-negotiable in your relationship is respect, you won’t want to choose someone who is disrespectful to your opinions even if they check all the other boxes.
What’s important to you might not be important to others.
So asking for advice from others might not help you make a decision.
I often receive queries from INFJs about making career decisions. Honestly, I don’t know what they should do. Even though we share the same personality type, we all have different priorities and interests in life. Someone who is younger might value passion and autonomy in their work, while others who are older and have a family to feed might value job stability and income. And just because I enjoy being self-employed doesn’t mean all INFJs would enjoy it too.
You have to know yourself well enough before asking for advice. If not, you are just going to follow other people’s advice which is great for the advisors but not necessarily great for you. When you know what matters to you, you can take the part of their advice that resonates with you and discard the rest.
Furthermore, sometimes when we ask others for advice, we are not actually looking for answers. We are looking for permission and validation to do something. Making a decision is not about what you should or should not do. It’s about what you want to do. Doing what you should do instead of what you want to do always create a conflict between the head and the heart. If something is truly important to you, it doesn’t matter what other people think about your choice.
4. Use your intuition to help you make a choice.
After you have done the first three steps, you can use your intuition to help you make a conscious decision that resonates deeply with your soul. Intuition works best when you are calm, and you know what you want and why you want it.
Intuition can help you look into the future and also access information beyond your current, physical awareness. If I have to make a decision between two things, I will imagine myself taking each path separately and see which path calls to me. If I don’t know what to do next, I will ask my intuition to show me the next best step. I don’t always need to know the full picture. I just need to know enough for the next unfoldment.
Let your heart speaks first and then
allow your head and the Universe to fill in the gaps.
Whenever you have a conflict between your head and your heart, quiet your mind and listen to your intuition first. Your soul communicates to you through your intuition. The mind is great for analysis and figuring out how to do something. But it’s not great for dreaming and figuring out what you truly desire.
Bringing the mind too early in the decision process causes too much mental chatter and kills all the dreams you have. You don’t need to know the “how-to” in the beginning. What you need to know is the “what” and the “why”. Instead, you want to bring in the mind later in the process to help you figure out how to get what you want and fill up the nitty-gritty. In other words, use your intuition to decide the path and then use your mind to execute your dreams. They work hand in hand but you must know which to use first.
If the mind has any concerns about your choice, it has to resolve its own problem. For example, when I first started writing, I didn’t know how I could make a living from my writing. So I leave it up to my mind to figure out ways to make it work. And when my mind is stuck, I just surrender to the Universe and allow it to bring me the ideas and resources.
Once you decide on something without getting too attached to your decision, the world will conspire to make it happen for you.
Featured Photo Credit: Engin Akyurt