Today’s big idea is that one of the reasons why decisions can be so taxing is that we’re over-relying on our brains to make them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for making pro and con lists and doing research and mulling things over, but your brain isn’t the only game in town. There’s also your gut, aka your intuition, which I talked about accessing in yesterday’s episode, number 552. And there’s also your heart, which is what we’re going to talk about today.
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Why do you want to hear what your heart has to say?
The heart is all about love. It sees possibility and seeks expansion and understands things like truth and beauty–all things that the rational mind is kind of unimpressed with.
The rational mind is typically seeking safety, while the heart is seeking something deeper, like purpose.
And when you’re making all those pro and con lists, your rational mind is likely going to gloss over things like love and purpose and meaning. It’s looking for the bottom line, while the heart is seeking potential.
ALSO, the ego, or the inner critic, is typically the mouthpiece of the rational mind and it is very very good at saying just the thing to prevent you from dreaming big. The ego will say things like, “yeah, that might work for other people but not for you.” Or, “better safe than sorry.” Or “you must be nuts.“
I’ve got an exercise that will help you take an objective look at what both your heart and your mind has to say about any particular decision
You need a piece of paper and a pen for this.
Once you have one, make a big plus sign in the middle of your paper, and then draw a big box around it so that you have one big square with four quadrants.
Next, write a small, out of the way number one in the top left hand square, then a small out of the way number two in the top RIGHT hand square. Continue moving clockwise and write 3 and 4 in the bottom squares.
Label the top row–squares one and two, YES, and the bottom row–squares 3 and 4–NO.
Then label the lefthand column FEAR and the the righthand column EXCITEMENT
Now you’ve got a matrix that can house all your conflicting thoughts and feelings about this choice.
To use this matrix:
1) First, frame your decision as a yes or no question.
2) Now think about deciding “yes.” What scares you about that? Write your answers down—everything that comes to mind, large or small—in quadrant one.
3) What excites you or calls to you about saying “yes?” Capture those thoughts in quadrant two (Q2).
4) Now think about choosing “no”. What are you afraid of happening if you make that choice? Write everything you can think of in quadrant 3.
5) What’s exciting—or feels like a relief—about choosing “no”? Write those answers in quadrant 4.
Once you’ve filled it out, put the paper down and walk away for a bit
When you come back to it, give your answers the sniff test—look for the reasons that seem like something that a mean person would say. Those are coming from your ego—otherwise known as your inner critic, which is obsessed with keeping you “safe” at all costs.
Then look for the things you listed that feel like something your most loving and supportive friend would say. Those are coming from your heart.
And then let yourself feel which set possibility–yes, or no–feels like the most authentic choice for you.
Seeing everything laid out can really help you discern what’s coming from the inner critic, and what’s coming from your heart. It can help give you confidence in following your heart. OR it can show you that your fears are valid, or feel like too much to overcome right now. There is no one right choice, but it’s incredibly helpful to give your higher self a voice about what’s at stake.
If you’d like a pre-printed version of this decision-making tool, I’ve got you covered.
I’ve got a free decision-making matrix on my website
It has these instructions written out and a blank graph that you can fill in. I’ll put the link to decision-making matrix in the show notes, because I just figured out I could do that!!!!! But the URL is https://katehanley.com/blog/ and you’ll see a big red box at the top with the headline Ready for Some clarity? Enter your email address and I’ll send it your way, right away.
I hope you’ll come back tomorrow, when I’m interviewing Melody Wilding, author of Trust Yourself, for her insight on how to stop overthinking decisions. Take care.