Why Are Some Decisions So Difficult?
Some decisions are easy. Should I drink coffee this morning? YES. Do I want to look at the interactive Google doodle rather than check my email right now? Definitely.
But those are the obvious decisions to make.
I’m talking about difficult decisions like:
· Should I make a career move or stay where I am?
· Should I tell them how I feel and risk the relationship or accept that they will never change?
· Should I change my diet or not?
Honestly, sometimes the “easy” decisions turn difficult for me, especially in the grocery store when I’m trying to decide between two kinds of toothpaste. There can be so many little elements to consider! Which brand? Anti-cavity or ULTRA anti-cavity? Sensitive teeth or regular teeth? Whitening or whitening AND anti-cavity?!
When it comes to the big stuff, my mind can work much the same way. I must consider all the little elements and weigh all the pros and cons. On top of trying to sift through all the details that might help me lean one way or another, there’s another thing with which I must contend. My inner critic!
Recently, I’ve been trying to make a big decision related to my career. As I contemplate this decision, an overwhelming feeling comes up for me that is so powerful that it triggers my inner critic, who starts saying things like, “why bother doing that, it won’t work out anyway,” or “who are YOU to think you could pull that off?”
The inner critic can be so compelling. It hits us exactly where we are most sensitive. And because it pokes at our vulnerabilities, we fall into believing that whatever the inner critic says must be true. And then, we’re STUCK.
Fortunately, I’ve learned NOT to take what my inner critic says as The Truth. There’s a BIG difference between what’s true and what’s The Truth. My feelings are true. But they are not The Truth. My fears are true, but they are not The Truth. My beliefs are true, but they also are not The Truth.
If I am aware enough in the moment to catch myself believing my inner critic, I can muster the inner strength and put a stop to my thoughts. Or at least press a pause button on them. This allows me time to bring myself back to The Truth. Or at the very least, I can come back to MY Truth.
When decisions have the potential to change our lives in some meaningful way, our inner critic is likely to be triggered. Looking back on my life decisions, I can see how my inner critic kept me “safe.” And “small.” I would forever wonder, “what would have happened if I had decided to go for that other option?”
In this episode of Growing in Uncertainty, I look at the decision-making process and outline some mindset tools you can use to navigate the moments when the inner critic decides to “help.”