Have you ever experienced a revelation – or even an epiphany – when looking back at a situation that didn’t work out?
Or perhaps you’ve used the term ‘hindsight’s a wonderful thing’ when you realise you could have made a wiser, more integrated decision before acting, thereby saving yourself from preventable stress. You may even have dodged the fallout from far-reaching complications that dictate your future path.
Making the right decision can be a challenge.
In this week’s Thriving at Work podcast ‘Decision Making: Making Wise and Congruent Decisions that Feel Right’, we discuss the mBraining technique of using our intelligences to help us decide a wiser course of action that works on every level, from every angle.
If you thought that you only have one intelligence to draw on (your brain) then switch on to this fact: neuroscience has proven that we have not one but at least three intelligences. In addition to the intelligence in the head (or cephalic brain), we also have an intelligence in our hearts (cardiac brain) and in our gastrointestinal system / our gut (or enteric brain.)
When you use these multiple intelligences to make a decision, you are more likely to make one that is not only wiser but more generative for your life as it includes both rational logic and emotional response, aligning with your values, gut instinct and your identity.
It’s simple, and a lot faster than procrastination or indecision – and of course it circumnavigates the need for hindsight!
Classical decision-making theory suggests that optimal decision making occurs purely via ‘head-based’ logical processes. For example,Guo proposed the DECIDE model in 2008 which includes collecting data, facts, statistics, analysis, criteria, story creation, image and ego… all head-based processes. Guo explains it as:
- D – Defining the problem.
- E – Establishing the criteria.
- C – Considering all the alternatives.
- I – Identifying the best alternative.
- D – Developing a plan and implementing it.
- E – Evaluating and monitoring the choices.
However, decisions made entirely by our logic faculty (our brain) and excluding variances such as emotion and intuition can come at a cost – to ourselves and others around us.
The classic example of a true and wise decision is the story of King Solomon, an enlightened and just king who became ruler around 967BC. He was asked to rule between two women who came to his court and who both claimed to be the mother of a child. Solomon revealed their true feelings and relationship to the child by suggesting cutting the baby in two so that each woman could have half.
Hearing the terrible verdict, the true mother cried out and asked the King to give the child to the other woman. With this strategy, he was able to expose the non-mother as the woman who entirely approved of this proposal, while the actual mother was willing to give up her child rather than see him killed. Solomon’s wise solution was to call upon not just logic, but compassion, creativity and courage as he came up with a way to quickly uncover the real mother.
It is also worth noting that we don’t believe decision making based purely on either the heart or gut intuition alone is a good idea either. Instead, wise decision making and the ability to move forward with clarity and confidence occurs when we tap into all our intelligences – head, heart and gut – to provide a balanced and compassionate decision that speaks volumes in its core wisdom.
How does this impact you?
Think about those times when you are relating with your clients, team members, boss, partner … when working with others; when dealing with stressful crises; negotiating service levels and contracts … or with your kids? Can you imagine how powerful it would be to add the knowledge of your intuition into these processes? And to bring in values and what’s important to both you and others involved?
So how can you make wiser decisions, using your head, heart and gut intelligences?
- Begin by sitting quietly and think about a decision you have been wrestling with or would like some more insight on.
- Listen to the story playing at the back of your mind.
- Give your body permission to communicate that you’re ready to hear what it has to say.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor, your neck and shoulders relaxed and your hands resting on your lap.
- Maintaining your relaxed and upright posture, breathe into and from your diaphragm.
- Feel your belly expand naturally as you breathe in and naturally fall as you breathe out, like a balloon gently expanding in and out.
- Becoming more aware of your breathing and gently move it into a rhythm so that the in and out-breath take the same amount of time, i.e. 5 seconds in … 5 seconds out.
- Let that steady, deep and natural breathing bring you to balance … to a kind of calm alertness … ideal for making decisions.
- As you continue to breathe through your diaphragm focus on the area around your heart, breathing in through your heart, and out through your heart. Find a positive feeling like appreciation, care or compassion and breathe that loving feeling into, and out of your heart area.
- Allow yourself to deeply connect with what you want, what’s important, who’s involved and where your values lie. How does your heart feel about all these options?
- Breathe in compassion … compassion for you and others involved … let compassion and acceptance flow around your heart directing it towards the outcome you truly desire … letting go of any tension.
- Start to notice your thoughts, allowing your attention and your compassion to move to your head with each breath. Imagine you are wisely, compassionately creative. What does your head know about this decision?
- What creative insights can your head come up with for the different options? Weighing up opportunities, criteria, plans; prioritising a new vision for how to move forward.
- Now begin to breathe these insights and priorities from your head back down into your heart. Allow your compassionate heart to recognise, appreciate and value these new choices. Are they in line with how your heart feels? How does your compassionate heart respond to others who are involved?
- With your next out breath let your attention drop deep into your gut, right down into the very sense of who you are. What does your gut need to feel safe about this decision? Be patient and wait … sometimes the gut needs time to respond.
- Just notice how your way of being and doing starts to shift … you may already feel courageousness, driven by compassion and creativity.
- In this state of calm alertness, notice how you can now bring meaning to your life, rejecting anything that’s not in your best interest and taking action to do what you need to do.
- Now breathe these compassionate, creative and courageous feelings back up into your heart, checking back in with your heart’s desire, becoming aware of your authentic self, resonating with compassion, creativity and courage.
- What have your head, heart and gut told you? Is it still what you truly want?
- If so, let that feeling spread through your whole body, out into your cells and skin … notice what you are feeling now.
- Notice how boundaries may have dissolved leaving a new path open to you … a future where you can fully express yourself – safely, courageously, compassionately and creatively.
- Let that feeling filter into every cell in your body replacing any tension with courage and strength; compassion and love; creativity and opportunity.
- Take a moment now to write a few notes on what you have discovered.
- And if you haven’t quite made a decision there may be other criteria that you haven’t yet considered. If so, just allow your body to continue processing and coming up with creative solutions over the next few hours, and when you sleep, then check in again in the morning.
By understanding the decision making process and pausing to communicate with your intuition and inner wisdom allowing thoughts, feelings and instincts to be heard, making a decision (such as what car to buy, which job to take, is this relationship right for me, do I want this promotion …) takes on streamlined simplicity.
Result: the best course of action now and in the future. mBraining brings wise decision making to fruition. Please feel free to get in touch to find out more.