Why are some decisions so hard to make?
Let's go deeper. So you are ready, you feel it, and it’s time. You know you have important decisions to make and it feels like a struggle. Our decisions matter because they affect ourself, and they have an impact on others. We can chose personal glory or we can choose to make a difference to others. We can choose to be good or evil, kind or uncaring, generous or selfish. Either way, we are free to choose.
Often making a decision means having a divided heart. We can feel the pull between trust and suspicion, between faith and doubt, surrender and control. It can be hard to make a decision because in choosing we are saying ‘no’ to one thing and ‘yes’ to something else. So we find ourself in a dilemma. It’s human nature to avoid loss and the associated pain of what we fear we will lose. If we make a decision based on this fear, we are likely to make an unwise and hasty decision.
So how do we make good decisions?
Through the experiences and struggles of his own life, Ignatius of Loyola discovered we can listen to the language of our heart when making decisions. With careful reflection we can find spiritual meaning from our emotions and that we can trust our experience. When we listen to the voice of our soul we can receive the Divine guidance we are seeking for informing our decision making.
Ignatius learned that there are four truths that are crucial for making good decisions.
The goal is not perfection, it’s progress. We can learn to discern between the superficial and the false, and the more deeply felt notions of our destiny and soul purpose.
To make good decisions we must first be directed toward Divine Love, and to have the end goal in mind. Our end is not professional success, romantic fulfilment or self-actualisation. Our end goal is moving closer to the experience of Divine Love in our life and our soul’s growth. If Divine Love is our focus, God (Spirit, the Divine) will point us in the direction of our deepest desires.
Discernment is the intention of anyone who desires to do good in this world, and it's how we approach making good decisions. Our stumbling block is our divided heart, our pride, our desire to have it all, and our ability to delude ourself. Discernment helps us to see the obstacles, and to determine the course of action that will satisfy us.
What’s important to realise is that life is not a series of problems to be solved, but a mystery to be lived. If we can let go of getting it right, or the need to know the answers, we are more likely to find our way through spiritually guided decision making.
The Ignatian tradition speaks of our inner conflict or dilemma for making good decisions as the dance between consolation and desolation. More simply …. our feelings and actions that move us towards Divine Love, such as peace, serenity and joy, or those feelings that move us away from love, such as fear, confusion, doubt and anxiety. Desolation also includes pride, smugness and a total focus on the attainment of personal pleasure. Consolation feels like coming home. Desolation feels as though we have lost our way.
Reflection on our emotions can therefore be a helpful tool for making decisions. Daily reflection is a powerful tool to discern where we are focused and for unpacking our emotions. When we are experiencing desolation this is not the time for making sound decisions. The root cause of desolation is temptation that threatens to extinguish hope and belief in ourself and our ability to take appropriate action.
We can counteract periods of desolation by invoking feelings of gratitude for the abundance in our life (big or small), combined with acts of kindness and contribution toward others. It’s important in these times to stand firm against our fears that keep us bound to our stuck-ness and our addictions.
Good decision making involves -
With honest and heart-felt daily reflection we are able to learn from our mistakes.
Those who ignore history are bound to repeat the past.
Five pillars of good decision making include:
It’s not about creating ‘what-if’ scenarios; it's about assessing how you make the decision you are facing now. What values are most important to you? Are these values guiding you in your decision making?
We can make decisions in three ways:
Decision making is not just a choice, it’s reserved for where we need to consider and embrace our deepest values for making major commitments in our life.
When making a decision using reasoning and imagination -
Keep the end in mind and know it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress.
Reference: “What’s Your Decision? How to make choices with confidence and clarity”.
By J. Michael Sparough SJ, Jim Manney, and Tim Hipskind SJ. (Loyola Press, 2010).
By Rebecca Gabrielle:
“The Power of Soul Loving - A Spiritual Guide to Love and Freedom”
By Rebecca Gabrielle (Balboa Press, 2019, Ch 15)
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#decisionmaking #discernment #reflection #choices
16/2/2023 01:30:14 am
Thanks for sharing the article, and more importantly, your personal experience of mindfully using our emotions as data about our inner state and knowing when it’s better to de-escalate by taking a time out are great tools. Appreciate you reading and sharing your story since I can certainly relate and I think others can to
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Rebecca Gabrielle, author of "The Power of Soul Loving - a spiritual guide to love and freedom".
Rebecca Gabrielle has been able to see the magnificence and truth of people’s souls from an early age. With a background in psychology, counselling, life-coaching, spiritual development, and energy healing, Rebecca has fine-tuned her psychic and intuitive skills to connect with the Divine to receive and deliver messages of unconditional love. Through her writing, soul-coaching and card readings she assists people to reconnect with their true self so they can experience clarity, peace of mind, joy and passion for doing what they love.