One of the most common things I hear from my clients is that they don’t know what to do. This applies to not only the big questions, but the little ones as well.
In this episode, I’ll teach a 3-step plan to making decisions. Once you understand how, you can apply this process to any decision you need to make in your life (and we make a lot of them as humans!).
You’ll learn how indecision pretends to keep you safe, but is in reality holding you back from the life you want. Once you understand how to make and follow through with decisions, there is nothing you cannot do. Your dream life is waiting on the other side of becoming decisive. Listen to find out how.
I’m Andrea Giles, and you are listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast, Episode Number Three, How to Make Decisions.
Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast, where courageous women learn, not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you are currently living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place. Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host, Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Welcome to Episode Number Three. I’m so glad that you are here. Thank you for being here. So, today we’re going to talk about how to make decisions. I’m going to teach you a three-step process that you can use to make decisions.
So, do you consider yourself an indecisive person? Why or why not? Are you afraid that you might make the wrong decision? Are you afraid that it might be embarrassing to be wrong? Do you wonder what the repercussions of your choices might be? Do you wonder what others might think of your choices? Or you make a decision, and you’re so sure of it, but then you start to second-guess it?
I used to be the most indecisive person ever, so I totally get it. I was indecisive about everything, how to style my hair, what schools I should put my kids in, what to wear, what to eat, how busy I should get with school activities, things like that. I was so afraid to get it wrong, so afraid of hurting my children, damaging them somehow, that I felt crippled a lot of the time, crippled by indecision.
For me, personally, it came because of a lack of trust in myself. I thought for sure somebody else might have a better idea than I did or a better decision than I did. And, so, I would often look outside myself about what other people were doing and what works for other people. And while I’m all about getting information from other people, learning from other people, I had to learn to trust my own self, my own voice, my own information, my own brain. And I’ve come a long, long way with that. I still struggle sometimes, but I’ve come a really long way, and I’m going to teach you how that has happened. Okay?
So, last week, in Podcast Number Two, I taught about the motivational triad and how our brains are programmed to seek pleasure, to avoid pain, and to seek ease. We like things to be easy. So our brain loves staying in indecision because it means we don’t have to change anything up. We don’t have to get really uncomfortable. We can just stay with what we know and, even if it’s uncomfortable there, we’re not stepping out of that into something that might seem even more threatening or more uncomfortable.
Another thing is resistance. Sometimes we feel resistance when we are changing things up, when we have a decision to make. And sometimes, when we feel that resistance, we might interpret it as that we’re making a bad decision, that we are clearly doing something wrong, and that is a lie. That’s a lie our brain will tell us to keep us from stretching and making it work. Our lower brain will offer decisions that will keep us comfortable. For example, “Yeah, eat the cookies. Don’t do that thing that is scary. Don’t work out. It’s not fun. It’s uncomfortable. Don’t put yourself out there. It’s scary out there.”
So, how do you make decisions? We make decisions from our higher brain, the prefrontal cortex. That’s our wise, grown-up version of ourselves. Our lower brain is kind of like a toddler. It’s like, “Oh, yeah, we want all the cookies. We want to eat ice cream for breakfast.” Okay?
The prefrontal cortex is the wise version of us. It’s where decisions are made. It’s where our best decisions are made, I should say. It’s where we have our best ideas. It’s where we set goals. It’s where we push ourselves. It’s where we grow. Okay?
So, with all of that, I’d like to head into step number one. Okay? So, step number one in decision-making is exploring, exploring your options. Get clear on what you are deciding. There’s always so many decisions to make. Right? Write it down. Just sit down. Do some brainstorming. Are there lots of decisions to be made? Write them down. Look at your list. Which one thing would create the most impact to decide? If you decided it, and if you just went forward with it, what would happen?
Other ways to decide are asking, “If I decided on this, what impact, five years from now, would it have? If I just decided and move forward with it, in five years from now, what would change because of this decision today?”
Another question is, “What is it costing me not to make this decision? What’s it costing me in brain space? What’s it costing me day-to-day?” Answer that.
When we ask our wise prefrontal cortex brain good questions, it gives us great answers, but we have to pause. We have to sit with those questions and listen and wait for it to answer.
The reason that we do or don’t do anything is because of a feeling. Did you know that? So, the reason we might want to know if we should, for example, stay married and try something new within that, try having more honest conversations, try going and talking to somebody, whatever that might be. The reason why we want to do that or don’t want to do that is because we think that it will make us feel a certain way.
So, think about it, okay? If we want to lose weight, for example, we think it’s because we’ll feel a certain way once we’ve lost the weight. If we want to change things up, like a place to move or a new job, it’s because we think that we’ll feel a certain way when we have that thing, when we’re there.
So, knowing that, what is the feeling that you want? What is it? What are you seeking? Get clear with yourself. Answer the question. Okay? One fear that people have is, “If I stay married, will I feel like I gave up? Will I feel like a doormat?”
So, if you knew that you could feel whatever you want, if you knew that you could handle it, what do you think you would choose?
So, some questions that a lot of my clients deal with are some of these following.
“Do I stay in the marriage or do I leave? Do I trust him again or not? Do I date again? Do I need to get a job or switch jobs? Do I stay in my house? Or do we move? What custody arrangements need to be made? What boundaries need to be set? Do I really tell him how I feel or keep it to myself?”
Those are just a few. And some of those are clearly if somebody’s already decided to leave a marriage. Some are if they’re still in the marriage and trying to move forward there. Okay?
Step number two, decide. You have done your homework. You’ve put in the time. You’ve asked your brain the questions, and now it’s time to just decide. You get to be the boss of your brain. You get to take that prefrontal cortex, that wise version of you, and just decide. So, here are some more questions to ask your brain when you’re making the decision.
“If I trusted that it would work out either way, what would I choose? Do I like my reasons?”
Let me explain what that means. Oftentimes, the reason we do things or don’t do things is because we are either people-pleasing or doing it out of guilt or because we want to. So, let’s say that you make a decision, but you realize, you ask yourselves, “Do I like my reason?” And your reason is something like, “So, so-and-so won’t judge me,” “So I can make them feel better,” “So that I don’t have to be embarrassed.”
Do you like those reasons? Do they feel good to you? Do they feel true to you? That’s a good way to check in with yourself. Do you like your reasons? That’s a question I ask myself a lot. “Do I like my reasons?”
Again, back to that question that I said before, “What does me, five years from now, say that I should do? What does she think that I should do?” You can look to her, look at what she’s doing. Look how she’s living. What is she like? How does she feel? What are her circumstances? All of it. What is she thinking? “What does she think I should do?” Going to that future version of yourself can give you so much information. If you sit with that and just write down what comes up, you’ll get lots of information.
So, now, you’ve made your decision. Okay? You’ve made your decision, and now what? Now what do you do? Step three is to commit and commit again. Your decision has been made, and this is where you take action. You take massive action.
What is massive action? Massive action is putting your money where your mouth is. You are taking a leap of faith, and your moving. You’re doing. You’re doing something. You’re moving forward.
So, that might sound terrifying, but let me break something down for you and show you what it looks like in an example from myself. Okay? So, I decided to launch a podcast. I went back and forth. “Is it time to launch a podcast? Is it time? Am I ready? Will people listen? Am I sure?”
And of course, there’s all kinds of Negative Nellies there in my head saying, “Oh, no, you shouldn’t do that. That sounds too scary.”
But then I decided I liked my reasons. I like them, so I’m going to move forward with it. So, then, there’s 10,000 more questions, like, “What microphone should I buy? Should I hire somebody to help me with it or should I do it myself? What should I name it? What art should I use for my podcast cover? What music should I use?”
So many decisions. Right? So, you write down all of those decisions, all the small bite-sized decision. You choose one thing. We can get overwhelmed really quick if we look at the end result and go, “Podcast. Podcast.” And go, “Oh my gosh, that sounds so overwhelming. There’s so much to do to make that happen.”
Instead, you just break it down to small, bite-sized pieces. Choose one thing from that list, breaking it down. Move forward. Okay? Move forward. It’s moving you towards that big end goal that you have.
Then, you calendar it. “When am I going to do this?” Hold yourself accountable. How can you do that? By telling someone else, by asking for help. Get a team. Get other people involved. Let them know what you’re up to. “Hey, this is what I decided. I need help. Can I talk to you about it? Can you help me? Can you hold me accountable? Can you remind me of my reasons why?”
Because guess what’s going to happen? It’s almost like, as soon as we decide something, all heck breaks loose in our brain. Our brain decides it’s time to freak out and tell us all the reasons why it’s not going to work, why you’re wrong, why you shouldn’t trust yourself. “Oh, remember all the times before when you were wrong? Maybe you shouldn’t do that.” Second-guessing. Second-guessing.
You’re overriding that by reminding yourself of your reason why. “Why did I make this decision? What was it?” You liked your reasons. You had a strong reason, a compelling reason. You’re reminding yourself of that reason, over and over and over.
Another big part of this is to look for evidence that it’s working. Your brain so wants you to turn back. Part of overriding that is teaching your brain that it’s working, saying, “Hey, we’re okay still. We’re not dying. We’re still here. It’s okay.”
So, you’re looking for little steps, and part of that is asking your brain really good questions, saying, “How is this working? How is this working?” And answering it, writing it down, getting it out of your head and onto paper.
Again, remembering your reasons. Write it down. Repeat it. Say it onto your phone, in your voice memo. You can put it there, so you can play over and over. Share it with others. Go back to it over and over. And you know what? With some decisions, you might need to do this multiple times a day. Your brain will be like, “Are we still sure? Did the answer change? Are you still sure?” You go back to that reason over and over again, and you teach your brain to follow through.
Another tool to helping yourself with the commitment piece is a protocol for your brain. So, some of you may have tried different diets before, where it’s like, “Okay, for this many days, this is what I eat, and then I have a free day or a joy eat,” or whatever. So, our brains are the same way. Okay? We can decide. We can set a protocol for ourselves. We can say, “This is what I’m going to think about. The decision has already been made, and at this time, on this day, I will discuss it again with my brain. I will ask myself how we’re doing, if I still like my reasons. I will check in with myself, and then I will carry on.”
So, when your brain starts yacking at you that something has gone wrong, that maybe you’re making a mistake, all of that drama, you can give it a voice and say, “Okay, I hear you. I got it. I hear you. I’m on it. We’re not doing that right now, but this is when we are doing it. This is when I will sit and listen to you.” And that can kind of quiet the voice. It can kind of settle it down a little bit. You are being the boss. It’s kind of like a toddler that’s pulling at your legs, saying, “Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. Are you sure? Are you sure? Pay attention to me.” And you’re saying, “Not right now. Not right now. I will get to you.”
So, some common questions that I hear are, “What if I make the wrong decision?” Here’s what I want to offer you about that. What if there is no such thing? What would change for you if you could believe, instead, “It’s all working for me.”?
What does that mean? So, what that means to me is that if I make a decision, and I move forward, one way or another, I’m getting more information. The information might be, “This is the best thing you’ve ever done.” The information might be, “That didn’t quite work the way I thought it would. What do I need to learn from that?” Then you take that new data, and then you make a new decision.
Did you know that you can make a decision, right or wrong, in your thoughts? I’m going to give you an example. When you decide who to marry, you might get married and then have your first big fight. Your brain might go, “Oh my gosh, I married the wrong person.” And then your brain will start to find all the problems with this person that you married. “Oh, yeah, look. He does this. He does this. He does this. Oh, I should have married this other person.”
And if you stay in that space, you’re going to continue to find more and more evidence of why you married the wrong person. You’re going to feel kind of like you made a mistake. You’re going to be pulled back from your spouse. You’re going to show up in a way that is going to keep you a little more reserved because you’re not sure he’s the right guy. And your brain will find ample evidence to back it up.
Now, on the other hand, you have this fight. What could you think instead? What if you thought instead, “This is just normal.” What if you thought instead, “We’ll figure this out.” What if you thought, “I really love this person. We’ll figure it out,” or thought about the things that you do love about him, and this is a small bump in the road? What would change, if you could teach your brain to look for the evidence that you married exactly who you needed to marry?
You would feel differently. You would show up differently. You would find the evidence that you did marry the right person. So, either way, you are making your decision, right or wrong, based on your thoughts about it, which means you get to make it right. You get to make it wrong. You have so much power there, to have the experience with your decision that you want to. So, again, commit, and commit again.
Part of the beauty in commitment is that it builds your trust in yourself, not that you are going to do everything perfectly every time. That is not the goal. But that you can handle any emotion, that you can handle feeling doubt. You can handle feeling scared and doing it anyway, and showing up for yourself, in a knowing, powerful way. What would you not do or try if we knew that we could handle any emotion?
So, to wrap this podcast up, I’m going to tell you about my favorite talk of all time. It’s by Jeffrey R. Holland, and it’s called “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence.” It’s a BYU speech that he gave. And let me tell you why this talk matters so much to me.
I, seven years ago, was making the decision of if I should end my marriage or not. I’d been married 16 years. It was the hardest decision I’ll probably ever make. I knew that so much was riding on it, and I wanted to get it right so bad. And even when I had overwhelming evidence that what I saw as evidence that it would be the best thing for me to end the marriage, daily, my brain wanted to take me back, “Are you sure? Are you sure?”
I so wanted to turn back and just put a Band-Aid on it. I just wanted to patch up my family. I wanted my life back. Even if my life was messy, even if there was a lot of pain there, at least I knew what it was. There was so much fear in the future, so much unknown. I didn’t know how it would be okay. I didn’t know what it would look like.
So, every day, I would go through this dramatic, “What am I doing? Am I still sure? Do I still know what I’m doing?” And I had to answer that question all the time. I didn’t know how to quiet my own fears. I didn’t know how to set boundaries and limits around my own thinking.
But at that time, I read a talk by Elder Holland, the one that I just referred to, and I want to tell you something that he said. He says, “If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel his love and hear the word of the Lord, go forward. Don’t fear. Don’t vacillate. Don’t quibble. Don’t whine. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, He will provide the way for you to accomplish it.”
It’s a really long talk. There’s so much goodness to it. Go check it out. But remember, when you do the work to make a decision, move forward. Move forward. I promise it’s costing you so much to not choose. What is it costing you?
So, will you decide something today? Will you make a decision? I don’t care how big the decision, how small the decision. Go make a decision. Practice making a decision. Make it deliberately. Follow through with it and build that trust in yourself, piece by piece. You have everything right now that you need to decide.
That’s it for today. Thank you so much for being here. If you are getting something out of this podcast, if you’re enjoying it, I would so appreciate it if you would go to iTunes and leave me a review. This helps other people find it. You can also subscribe to it, and that way every time a new podcast episode comes out, it goes right to your podcast app on your phone or wherever you listen to podcast.
Go ahead and subscribe. Leave a review. Share it with anybody who you think might find it useful, and I will see you next week. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.
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