Risks, Initiatives & Failures: Making Life Decisions & Owning Them
There are plenty of reasons why many of us have been ill-equipped to make decisions on our own. From parents not allowing children to make smaller choices in their youth. To friends and family imposing their personal desires onto one’s life.
It varies. For whatever reason, we may not have had adequate practice.
As we grow, the sources of doubt may change. You may find yourself in an environment which doesn’t foster or support your talent.
Most of us want to feel the freedom of confidence in the decisions we make. To keep marching ahead even when others question us.
Is it even possible to learn how to own your decisions? YES.
Why We Struggle
“When we don’t listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don’t, others will abandon us. We’ve been raised to question what we know to discount and discredit the authority of our gut.” Terry Tempest Williams in When Women Were Birds
Why do we disconnect from our intuition? Common culprits are:
– Caring what others think.
– Lack of love for oneself. Which makes it hard to trust yourself or feel secure.
– Feelings of shame or guilt.
To clarify: Guilt is a healthy emotion because it helps us realize changes we need to make in life. It becomes a shame when we turn guilt into a sign that we’re incapable or unworthy. Shame is destructive.
Let’s dive deeper into some of the habits which affect your ability to own your decisions:
– Obsessive Asking For Advice or Approval
“When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or snide remarks take that away from them.” — Travis Bradberry on Entrepreneur.com
How many times have you ignored a gut feeling in favour of advice only to regret it later?
Wes Moore puts this into perspective, “The vast majority of advice you’ll receive comes from a place of love. But ultimately we have to make our own choice based on what’s best for us. You’ll never make a decision 100% of people will accept as a great decision. That’s okay. Don’t let people who don’t matter too much, matter too much.”
– Living Like a ‘Child’
Many choose to stay in the victim mentality so often practised in childhood. They default to being passive about what they want and then blame others for their condition.
Martha Beck explains, “You may believe that you don’t have the good judgment to decide what’s right for you, but consider this: Even when you obey external authority, you’re making the choice to do so. Choosing what and whom you believe is your inescapable responsibility, so own it. Examine everything you hear. Weigh it against your innate sense of truth. Then do what feels right, even if it goes against someone else’s grain.”
Most of us learn this from our parents or other people. This is nothing to be ashamed of and can be remedied starting with awareness.
We’re responsible for who we are regardless of our upbringing. There’s power in knowing this.
– Acting Like a Victim
“If we tell our story in a way that disempowers us we won’t know that we matter, even in the midst of the story” — Iyanla Vanzant
People in victim mode often pity the hand they’ve been dealt with and focus on how horrible people treat them. Feeling sorry for themselves even when life is going well. They see vulnerability as dangerous and play defence, in life, rather than offence.
“When we’re trapped in the world of victimhood, we tend to be more aware of how vulnerable we truly are. We experience a sense of what Brené Brown calls “deep foreboding.” It’s the sense that disaster is always lurking around the corner. And the sensation is most intense when things are going well.” — Cylon George on Huffington Post
A victim wants to control when that disaster will strike so he will not be disappointed. Therefore, he undermines his own joy and success with self-destructive behaviour.
A victim defines who they are by what happens to them. They give power to the emotions of others. As a result, a victim needs the approval to know their choice is right.
A survivor owns their choices even if the outcome isn’t desirable or approved of.
So how can you start owning your decisions?
Figure out WHY you’re feeling guilt or fear.
When we believe that we’re not worthy enough, we allow fear to lead us. Which can cause us to make decisions and support beliefs which betray our truest self. We end up feeling victimized by our own emotions or of others.
Observe your decisions and what beliefs lie behind them. Are you deciding to stay in a toxic situation because you fear to escape your comfort zone? Do you avoid speaking up when something bothers you because you’re afraid of how they may respond?
This is a crucial first step. Figuring out why you struggle. This way you can be proactive and start operating from a better place. We have a choice. You have to be brave enough to do this work.
Create a system.
Steve Jobs wore the same clothes every day. He eliminated the amount of time and energy wasted on choosing an outfit.
If you create a system for smaller decisions your life will become less stressful. This also sets you up to become more confident when making bigger decisions.
When a person makes you doubt your decisions, plan how you’ll respond in future interactions. Create boundaries. Don’t share as much information with them. Or rehearse a response when you know they attack in arguments.
“It’s like having an emergency plan. You have to decide how you’ll deal with a crazy situation *before* you get into it, because when you are dealing with an emergency or making a decision on the fly, your immediate needs and fears typically cause you to make choices you wouldn’t have made if you were thinking a bit more long term.” — Kate Matsudaira and Kate Stull
You won’t be able to own your decisions unless you have boundaries from which you operate.
Be willing, not perfect.
Ask yourself WHY you made a certain decision.
Attack the scarcity assumption — there’s an abundance of opportunities out there. You may go against the grain of someone’s else’s desire but it doesn’t mean it’s the only chance. You’re a talented person with passion and purpose.
Be ok with taking responsibility regardless of the outcome.
Simon Sinek says our brains pick up cues, signals, and information to form a gut feeling. At the same time, if we’re prone to anxiety and fear our choices may be influenced by these factors.
In which case, you’ll need to learn if you’re making a decision out of anxiety or knowledge and faith.
Know who you are and stand by it. Claim your right to be who you are and make decisions regardless of what others feel.
Schedule time to nourish yourself by creating a morning routine.
Observe when you don’t trust yourself and ask why. Then work on improving.
Set an intention to note when you feel you may be stepping outside of your responsibility. Don’t judge. Observe and ask yourself why.
Start infusing your life with knowledge and habits which will help you own your choices. Books, podcasts, videos, friends, etc.
Indulge in positive habits, and soon you will be on the road to understanding the best ways to making your own decisions, and owning them!