I don’t know about you, but my mind is a busy place with thoughts ranging from profoundly wise to downright absurd. One moment I’ll think to myself, “tomorrow is not promised, so I’ll tell my loved ones how much I appreciate them today.” and the next moment I’m likely to think something like, “the clouds look yummy today, I want to eat them” lol! I’ve often wished I could trade in my messy mind for the simplified angel and devil on each shoulder, like they had in old cartoons; It’s so clear which to listen to, so simple to follow the right path. This has not been my experience. When it comes to making decisions, it can feel overwhelming to hear all my different thoughts weighing in, often with completely contradictory perspectives. I have often found myself in self doubt and sometimes decision paralysis wondering which thoughts to listen to. Do you relate? You are not alone!
Here are 3 ways to find our wisdom amongst all the internal chatter:
- Notice if the Thought is Calm and Respectful
Our loudest thoughts are often fueled by fear, anger, and other highly charged emotional reactions. Fear can use all kinds of tactics to get our attention and, despite its mission to keep us safe, fear can often resort to insults to get the message across and end up self-sabotaging us. Example- when we are in the dressing room trying on outfits for an upcoming party. In an attempt to protect us from embarrassment and judgement our fear might say, “Ew! Take that dress off immediately, you look fat and gross!” Let me be clear, fear and these intense emotional reactions are important, especially in a true survival situation. Sometimes, we have a very legitimate reason to be afraid. The reality is however, we are in a true emergency/ survival situation very rarely. And so, it is rare that these loud, insulting voices are the wisest of our thoughts. If you pay attention to the thoughts that are more calm and respectful, you’re likely to find a more balanced, wise perspective. Maybe a thought like, “I feel uncomfortable in this dress. I am a beautiful Child of God/ The Universe, and I think I would feel as beautiful as I truly am in another outfit.” or “My beautiful assets may not be well represented in this dress” Remember, feelings are not facts.
- Allow Time to give you Clarity
Patience is key to Wisdom. Time allows all the reactionary emotions to settle and our sense of emergency to subside. A calm mind is a clear mind. We can take a deep breath, pray, or meditate on it. This is when we are most open to hearing our wisdom. If we notice our sense of urgency is not necessary but will not let up, it might be time to simply pause the decision process altogether, to come back to another time. We ask ourselves, “Do I need to know the answer now?” With patience often more information is revealed, and the answer presents itself. Example- “Having waited a few minutes, I remembered that gold dress I love and have felt good in before. I’ll just wear that!”
- Seek a Trusted Second Opinion
Two heads are better than one, depending on the heads! Trusted is the key word here. It is so important for our mental health to have access to an outside perspective. Sometimes the mess of our minds is too thick to see through, and we need support. Who we go to in these moments can make or break us. We don’t go to Home Depot when we are shopping for milk and eggs, so we should not go to unsupportive or unwise people for advice. A chosen therapist, counselor, or coach can offer an objective perspective that helps us see our blind spots, without compromising a friendship or suspecting biased feedback. Instead, seek out experts in the areas you need support. Example, “I texted Myra and asked what she was going to wear to the party. Now I know I want to buy the purple dress so we match!”
Our minds are so powerful, that often our thoughts and stories become the reality we experience. When I practice listening to my thoughts and choosing to follow the ones that uplift me, life becomes so much more fun and functional. With these three steps, self-doubt has been banished from my life, and it feels fabulous!