Making life decisions
When making important life decisions, how do you approach the issue? Do you methodically list the pros and cons? Or do you get caught up in a web of thoughts and emotions? Do you get confused between what your head and heart are saying?
If so, you aren’t alone! Many of us find it difficult to sort through all the things going through our minds. Especially when there is the added pressure of a looming deadline. We find ourselves losing sight of what we really want. When that happens, we risk making decisions we may later regret.
Here’s a real-life example of someone who was in the process of making an important life decision. We used Choice Theory psychology to gain better awareness of her situation. Most of you know me as an Emotion Code / Body Code practitioner, but occasionally I do wear my other hat!
An example: job offer
A little background first (some information has been changed to protect identity): female in her 30s, named K.
K used to work full time but switched to freelance because of the freedom it offered. She enjoyed the flexible hours and being able to choose her own workplace. The downside? Lack of recognition for her work and a sense of building her future. She struggled between finding the time to launch a business while keeping up her freelance job to sustain an income.
Occasionally K would feel like her life wasn’t going the way she wanted. She wondered whether she should maintain the status quo, even if not all of it was ideal.
Then she received an offer. The company she freelanced at liked her and wanted her to come on board in a full time position. Initially she was excited and nearly jumped at the opportunity.
But after giving it some thought, other thoughts began to creep in. Concerns surfaced about what to build for her future and what to leave behind. She became anxious. She felt torn in two directions and felt immense pressure to make a choice.
The anxiety began to affect her health. She felt her body protest with aches and she started having sleepless nights. The lack of rest compounded the mental confusion and made it harder to think of what is the best decision.
When K reached out to me, it was long into the decision making process and she was in a mild state of panic. After giving it some thought, I suggested doing a self awareness exercise. Hopefully it would help put things in perspective. If that wan’t enough, then perhaps we could follow it up with a Body Code clearing.
Do a self reflecttion
On an A4 sheet of paper, I asked K to draw a big box and add a title to the box: Job Offer. This is the issue she’s facing now. Then I told her to divide the box into 4 quadrants and label the upper left box Thoughts, lower left box Action, upper right box Feelings and lower right box Physiology.
What do these labels mean? Thoughts is the mental chatter going through your mind. Actions is the literal actions you’re doing right now. Such as get anxious, worry, stay awake at night. Feelings is your emotions, such as stressed. Physiology is how your body is reacting, such as tense, achy, tired.
I asked K to fill in the boxes according to what’s going on right now. She came back with loads of comments jotted down in each box. There was definitely a lot happening!
Some of the boxes had notes that overlapped. Meaning, some thoughts wound up in the Feelings box or Actions box. This happens to many of us when our thoughts become overwhelming. They spill over into other areas. That’s why it gets so hard to figure out what exactly are we thinking and feeling.
Find the unmet true needs
Overall, K’s quadrants portrayed a strong sense of powerlessness. This was her current state. While in this state, she was perceiving reality in a certain way, and it didn’t align with what makes her happy.
According to Choice Theory psychology, what makes K happy is what satisfies her true needs. Those needs are belonging, empowerment, freedom, fun and survival/security. But these weren’t being met adequately, so it triggered a pain signal (Thoughts, Feelings and Physiology). The pain signal prompted her to use certain coping behaviors (Actions). Unfortunately, the more she did them, the less empowered she actually felt. And so, the cycle would continue.
When K had her quadrants explained in this way, it made sense. She said:
It was understanding my needs where it all became clear.… Knowing that I was not fulfilling my needs in my current state helped me see myself where I really am and give myself what I need. It still does not mean that all is rosy. I still have to adjust and adapt but I am more motivated to do so because I understand why I need to do so, to be a better version of myself on a new empowered level in connection with my environment while remaining true to myself.
Clear the 4 wheels
The 4 boxes in the diagram are like the 4 wheels of a car. The front wheels are Thoughts and Actions, the back wheels are Feelings and Physiology. All the wheels should be balanced for the car to run properly. But sometimes the wheels get stuck or go out of alignment. When that happens, the car will either stall or not move in the direction we want it to go.
In K’s case, she learned that she was driving a car called “Powerlessness”. The Thoughts and Feelings wheels were spinning out of control and the Physiology wheel was jammed. The Actions wheel was trying hard to steer her in the right direction but was overpowered by the 3 other wheels.
If we did do a Body Code clearing, it would have focused on clearing one or more of the wheels, or the boxes in the diagram.
Gain a new awareness
The exercise gave K a new self awareness. With that, the Thoughts and Feelings wheels slowed down. The Physiology wheel became unstuck. The Actions wheel gained traction. Although we didn’t come up with a name, her new car might have been called “Motivated”.
Ultimately, K listened to her gut feelings and took the offer. While she did go through a period of adjustment, things turned out better than she expected. Making a decision that met her needs allowed more opportunities to show up. This put her on a trajectory which met more and more of her true needs!
I hope this example was helpful for those of you in a similar situation. May it provide you with a new way of looking at your problem! If you have any further questions, please feel free to get in touch.