How to Use Intuition to Navigate Decisions
By Afa Alizada, Holistic Counselor, M.A.
Uncertainty in life is inevitable. When you find yourself sitting on the fence, unsure which way to go, making pros and cons lists will only get you so far. That’s because the information available to you now is limited, which makes it almost impossible to predict how you will feel later once you have made the decision.
When it comes to uncertainty about life-altering decisions: There is a way to tap into your intuition. If you find yourself stuck and spinning your wheels, check out the following strategies to help you get more clarity and confidence in navigating your decisions.
1. Decide not to decide…temporarily, that is
It may sound counter-intuitive to postpone decision-making when you know making a decision is what will bring you a sense of relief. But if you have been grappling with an issue for a while, you have likely narrowed your vision and have cluttered your headspace. It is difficult to have clarity and make a good decision from this space. So, designate a break (1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, etc.) during which you will not talk or think about this issue. Use thought-stopping techniques and other healthy distractions, such as spending time in nature or doing activities you enjoy, to enforce this break.
2. Focus on what you want, not what you fear
We often get stuck in the face of uncertainty because we simultaneously try to figure out what we want and all the ways things can go horribly wrong if we make the wrong decision. It creates a mental block. To declutter your mind, make a list of all the fears that come up when you think about this issue. For example, “If I leave my partner, I will never find love again and end up alone” or “If I quit my stable job to pursue my dream, I will end up destitute and homeless.” Whatever it may be, put it on a piece of paper and stash it away. These fears may be 100% valid, completely baseless or somewhere in-between. For now, don’t burden yourself with this analysis because it creates paralysis.
3. What’s Your Why?
After you’re clearer on what you want, you want to figure out: why you want it. Imagine a world where none of your fears exist and you are free to author the life you truly desire. Get granular with the details. In this world you have created, how are you feeling? What are you doing? Who is around you? Where are you? As you go through this exercise, be mindful of the why. Do you want these things because you feel excited (or energized, inspired, etc.) or is this something you feel you should do? Vision boards, guided visualization meditations, and therapeutic techniques designed to help identify the subconscious and untested assumptions & beliefs can help you get clear on your heart’s deepest desires.
4. “Try out” your decisions
If you are going back and forth between a couple of scenarios, try out one decision for a period of time. Say, you’re deciding whether to move to a new city. For one week, pretend that you have made the decision to move and stick to it. Don’t waiver or bargain. During this time, write daily how you feel about the decision. Pay attention to your body and note the physical sensations. Is there a sense of expansion or constriction? Do you feel light or heavy? When you say “yes” to this decision does it feel like a full-body “heck yeah”? (tip: guided body scanning meditations like iRest can help with this exercise). You can even reflect on past gut-based decisions and compare the feelings of this decision to the previous experience.
The next week, live out the opposite decision. Once again, fully allow yourself to experience this decision by daily journaling and connecting to the sensations in your body. The more you convince yourself you have made each decision, the greater insight you will glean from this exercise.
5. Don’t Go It Alone
Finally, remember that decision-making is complex and uncertainty can be scary. You don’t have to do it alone. Working with a therapist in individual or in group sessions can help cut through the fog of uncertainty with more ease and efficiency. If you want to be supported by a community of conscious individuals in navigating challenges, stay tuned for our Intentional Living classes starting this fall!
Many mental health issues are normal challenges for which we may be lacking insight, resources, skills, and healing space to process, understand and overcome. No matter our life’s journey, it is my sincere belief that every human being has the capacity to heal, feel whole, and reach their full potential. My mission is to help you see this potential in yourself. I help clients to tap into their inner strengths and resources so that they can cope with stress, depression, and anxiety; clarify their life’s purpose; undertake personal development; navigate life transitions, loss, and grief; and lead a fulfilling life.