Decision making techniques
During our school years, we've been well trained to make decisions using our mind. But what about our body and our emotions? They have a say as well. And if the decision we're contemplating is a major one, it pays to make sure our mind, heart and body are aligned.
Here are two decision making techniques worth trying:
Listen to your emotions – the talking chair technique This method taps into the emotions generated by each alternative you are considering.
Pick a few chairs, assigning one for each alternative. Say this chair represents alternative A, this other chair B, etc.
Distribute the chairs around a room. Then go sit in each chair and see how you feel. Tell yourself: “When I sit in chair A, I will feel as if I have chosen alternative A. When I move into chair B, I will feel as if I have chosen alternative B.” And so on.
Sit in each chair for five to ten minutes and try not to think of anything. Simply pay attention to how you feel. What feelings arise in you? If you find you have difficulty accessing your feelings and stopping your mind from talking, just focus on your senses. Feel your breath going in and out of your body. Listen to the sounds around you, feel the sensation of touch. Feel the part of your body that is in contact with that chair. Feel your feet on the floor. Feel you skin touching your clothes. Then feel whatever arises in you regarding the alternative assigned to the chair in which you are sitting.
Listen to your body – the ideomotor response The body holds enormous knowledge about what is good and what is bad for us and can help us with decision making.
The ideomotor response is a technique initially used in hypnotherapy, which can help us with our day-to-day decisions. It is based on the involuntary, subconsciously produced movements of a body part in response to a thought, feeling or idea. There are several ways in which you can tap into this body knowledge and the easiest is the ‘yes and no’ exercise.
Focus on one of your hands. Tell your body to pick a finger to signal yes and another finger to signal no. Tell the body that the finger needs to twitch or lift according to the answer to a question. Then ask the hand to show a yes signal. Watch your hand and see which finger lifts. Don’t try to do this consciously, simply watch your hand and wait for a finger to lift. Repeat the request for a yes response until you have a consistent response. Do the same for no. Ask a few times to see a yes response then a no response. Then start asking yourself questions and see which finger tends to lift. Do this without thinking too much about it; it’s best if you can do this in a state of absent-mindedness, as if what is going on is not really important. Detach yourself from the outcome; simply maintain a sense of curiosity as you watch your own hand and notice which finger is lifting. Pay attention to the answers you get. Your body is talking to you.
Sometimes the movements can be very small: a simple twitch. It is still an answer. At other times, you may have trouble relaxing deeply enough to receive meaningful messages from your fingers. In this case I recommend you use your arms instead.
Stand up and lift both your arms, holding them at a 90-degree angle in front of you. Find your true or false signal. Ask yourself a question you know the answer to and then assign a yes/no correspondence to each of your arms. Then wait there with your arms outstretched without thinking of anything. Your arms will start to feel heavy and inevitably one will drop before the other. Just sense the heaviness in your arms and see which one tends to drop first. If the yes arm drops first and the correct answer to your question is yes, you have a truth signal. Then check your alternatives using your arms, assigning one per arm or asking yes or no questions and see which arm drops first.
Whatever decision making technique you use, remember to use more than one. And if several technique give you the same answer, you can trust it.