Making Good Decisions… for Myself


The Good Girl (or Good Boy)

Did you grow up and find out that you have been a good girl (boy) all along? You studied hard, did what you were told or even did things before you were told, because that’s just how good you were? Did you know exactly the ‘right’ thing to do? The ‘right’ way to act, the ‘right’ things to say and especially the ‘right’ decisions to make?

I was definitely one of these ‘good girls’. As the oldest child, I knew I had to set a good example. Disappointing my parents, a teacher or anyone important in my eyes became my biggest fear (even though they were not particularly strict with me). It’s only looking back that I become aware of this and realize how much I was under this ‘good girl spell’. At the time I was completely oblivious to how influenced I was by my fear. I actually was convinced that I was very independent and that I was ‘myself’.

It was only after many years of making the ‘right’ decisions that I realized this wasn’t working for me. I had gone on to study, then got a great job in a very respectable firm. In most people’s eyes, I was well on my way, yet somehow I wasn’t convinced. I had ticked all the boxes and something just didn’t feel right.

What do I really want?

I began asking myself what I really wanted. The answer that came back was… blank. I had never really asked myself this question and was quite confused by the fact that I didn’t have an answer. So I thought maybe asking other people what they thought I could or should do would help. None of the answers satisfied me. I made pros and cons lists (which are often very useful) but I somehow managed to balance those lists so they didn’t help me either.

I was utterly stuck and found myself incapable of making a decision. How could this be so hard? I was an independent grown up after all…

I attended a retreat whose tagline was “When you are ready for change”. I needed to get unstuck and so yes, I was ready for change. It was on this retreat that I first learned that it is actually important to be aware of our emotions. I discovered that our emotions are a resource that can help us in life, if we learn to tap into it. Emotions, I found out, could also help us when it comes to making decisions. Especially decisions that are right for ourselves.

Whatever your story may be, if you want to make better decisions for yourself this might help.

The Conscious and Subconscious mind

In a way our emotions know us better than our mind does. This comes from the fact that our unconscious mind can pick up and process much more than our conscious mind. That means our unconscious mind has more information to base itself on and therefore often has some pretty valuable insights for us. Now if we consider our emotions to be a reflection of our unconscious mind, it might just be worth taking our feelings into consideration.

When something doesn’t feel right and we can’t explain it logically, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It might just mean that our logical mind doesn’t have all the puzzle pieces to help us get to the right conclusion. Similarly, when something just feels right, like an instinct or gut feeling, there might be something there. It might be worth exploring or just going with it.

Recognizing that our emotions have valuable information for us doesn’t mean it’s right to ignore our rational mind. Our thinking mind still has it’s place. Maybe we get the best of both world’s if we tap into both minds. As Daniel Goleman, the author of Emotional Intelligence says: “In a very real sense, we have two minds. One that thinks and one that feels.”

Do you want to know more about how we can tap into our emotions, here is another great free article: Using our emotions as our guides

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Goleman, D., (2009). Emotional Intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ, Bloomsbury

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