How to Make a Decision

As published in in The Women’s Lifestyle Magazine of Greater Kalamazoo, July 2019 Edition.

Life can be hard and hindsight always seems 20/20. So, how should one make a decision, anyway? And, not just any decision, but a healthy one.

Your Two Options

As an influential book by Lynn Grodzki reminded me, we can make decisions in one of two ways: out of love or out of fear. So, whether it’s staying with your current unhealthy partner because you are afraid to be alone, not getting another degree because you are worried you will fail, or choosing to embark on a new business venture because it is what you truly love to do, these decisions are either made out of love or out of fear.

The challenge is that fear often feels more powerful. Therefore, when considering a decision, it may help to get in touch with your values and intuition to see how the potential of a certain decision “feels” to you. Do you advocate for yourself by confronting a loved one who mistreats you even though that conversation will be uncomfortable? It may be uncomfortable but do you believe that it is important to speak up when harm is being done, no matter the cost? If so, such an action may be able to be done out of love for yourself. On the other hand, your values may teach you that it is more important to focus on achieving inner peace and forgiveness with a situation. This may mean that and you are willing to compromise not speaking your truth at this time given that the loved one may be dealing with a terminal illness and you, instead, want to focus on creating positive memories.

“Don’t Do Anything Unless You Have To”

These wise words are constantly repeated by my meditation teacher. I find them to be particularly helpful when exploring how to make a decision. Could I live with myself or sleep at night if I did or didn’t do something? Could I get by with not doing it? If so, consider letting that opportunity pass you by. However, if you keep coming back to a decision. If it haunts you and your value system aligns with it, it may that you have to do something. If so, maybe it’s time to take that leap of faith from fear to love!

Evaluate Your Needs

Making a decision is also a wonderful opportunity to reflect on your own needs. Do you need a raise because your expenses have increased? Do you need to not go to every family function because it causes more stress than is helpful? If so, remind yourself that your needs matter, too – emotional, financial, spiritual, sexual, or otherwise. Give yourself permission to make a decision that isn’t “selfish” but is “self-reflective” of your own needs.

We cannot truly be present with others if we are not making healthy decisions for ourselves. So, listen to your gut and ask things like: “Is this something I need to do?”, “Is this something I want to do?”, or “Is this something that I feel inclined to do simply because it feels like an obligation?”. If something does feel like an obligation, is it an obligation that you want to have based on your values (e.g. taking care of an ailing father) or is it simply something that you have been doing out of habit but don’t really love (e.g. getting your bachelor’s degree)? Give yourself time to think. Give yourself permission to choose. Ask: It is love or fear? At the end of the day, I doubt any of us wants to live our life our of fear. So, don’t.

~Ashley Carter Youngblood, LMSW, LMFT, CADC, ADS, CMHIMP

Ashley Carter Youngblood is a licensed Clinical Social Worker, licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider who has been in the field since 2007. She offers counseling at her woman-owned business, Inner Peace Counseling, PLC, for those in Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan, Battle Creek, Paw Paw, and the surrounding areas of Southwest Michigan. She is passionate about her work with clients, whether it’s providing individual counseling, couples counseling, family therapy, life coaching, or education about one of her growing passions and areas of expertise: the connection between nutrition and mental health. Her specialties include holistic healing/mindfulness, counseling for women, anxiety, couples counseling, and addictions/substance abuse.

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