I have always known that my anxiety is pretty tightly knit with decision making. I can obsess over a decision as insignificant as what kind of rug do I need for a living room for weeks. Then when I became a mom, things became overwhelming. Not only as parents are we fed an abundant amount of (typically conflicting) information. We have the added pressure of making a decision for another living being. I am still on a personal journey of not allowing anxiety to rule my decision making. I have found that being able to stop and evaluate is when I am able to make decisions with the least anxiety and the most confidence. The same way we apply mindfulness to meditation or yoga or being with loved ones, we can apply it to making decisions.
#1 Narrow options away
Ever been asked where you want to eat, say you don’t care, but then reject the first idea that comes your way? It is because it is easier to narrow things down by what we don’t want then it is to make a decision. Remind yourself of the things you immediately want to eliminate. It is usually a good starting point and helps with that overwhelmed feeling. If there is nothing you immediately want to eliminate, move on to step #2.
#2 Look at the outside influences
Sometimes we settle on things we don’t really want because of a few things: we feel rushed, we feel pressured, we want to please others. Sure, if you are in a committed relationship, many decisions need to be made as a team or as a family, but you can still apply this concept to influences outside of the decision makers. Parents, siblings and friends are the number one culprits of influencing. It is an innate desire to please our loved ones, but sometimes this can cloud our ability to be mindful in decision making. Do you really feel strongly about this, or do you feel this way because you know your mother will be upset? Are you making a decision for yourself or is this a family tradition? You don’t need to necessarily DO anything about these outside influences (because often you can’t), but bring AWARENESS to the pressure you feel so you can isolate your independent feelings.
#3 Turn Within: Who are you?
Overwhelming question. I know. Forgive me. Start with making a list of things that define you as a person and begin there. This will be your road map to making decisions.
I’ll use myself as an example:
-Orthodox Christian -Mother- Wife -Vegan- Yogi -Minimalist -Artist -Therapist- Friend
Don’t get caught up on this step, just write the first things that come to your mind. The goal is to simply refocus your energy back on yourself and who you are as a person.
#4 What are your morals?
This is when you can really start hashing out what you believe in. How does each of the things you listed impact your morals, because these morals are going to be the basis of your decision making. How do these things manifest in your daily life? How does it influence how you want to raise your family, spend your money, spend your time? How does it influence what you eat? Where you live, who you live with, what you do with your free time?
i.e. My faith influences how I view the world and how I treat others. Being vegan impacts what I eat. My family impacts how I prioritize my life and spend my time. Minimalism impacts what I consume.
#5 What decision falls in line with these morals?
By reminding yourself who you are as a person, and reminding yourself what choices you have made already in your life, hopefully you can come to a conclusion you have PEACE with. Also keep in mind that sometimes these morals may conflict, and sometimes you have to rank them. For example, Often I get made food with dairy, I have to decide what do I value more, sticking to a plant based diet, or showing people that I appreciate them and not being wasteful? I tend to chose eating the dairy, but I don’t walk around with the guilt because I understand why I made the decision.
Let me know how these tips and guidelines help you in your decision making. I feel like it has helped me and my family definitely with the big life changing decisions, but what I am starting to do is apply it to the small ones. How do I schedule my day? What do I make Nora for lunch?
If you want to learn more about easing anxiety and how decision making contributes to anxiety check out the Minimalists. I owe a lot of this concept to what I am learning from the Minimalists. Ultimately the less decisions you have to make, the less anxiety. What kind of connections do you guys see in your daily lives?
Learn more about how mindfulness can impact your life by contacting me today