Decision Making: Intuition vs. Rationality

Most of us have encountered personal situations in life where a so-called difficult decision has to be made and started wondering what would be the best thing to do in that case? In reality though, what we may call hard, challenging or difficult is just a mental label that we assign to the situation, which is always simple and neutral as most things are in life – we are the ones who complicate them through our perceptions and reactions…and ironically, we even enjoy doing it. 🙂

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The easiest thing to do in this case  is listening to your intuition or inner voice that will always help you find the right answer. Even when the outcome doesn’t turn out to be the way you expected, there is still something to learn from that particular experience, as it has happened for a reason that you may not understand right away, but will do later on when you’ll connect the dots.

“Trust instinct to the end, even though you can give no reason.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

However, many people tend to rationalize and over-think the situation; as a consequence, it will appear to be difficult based on all the scenarios that come up in their heads as a result of the thought process. If you’re that type of person, who makes decisions based on logic rather than intuition, and you find the situation you’re in to be unpleasant, it may be useful to follow the steps below to help you find the answer.

1.       Is leaving/letting go a viable option for me?
If it is, then the problem is solved. Be careful though, not to mislead yourself by thinking that you can’t leave/let go because you are scared of change, or because you are so attached to the situation that you’re afraid of losing something by leaving. Where does that fear come from, what are you really scared of? Assuming that you analyzed the situation objectively and you realized that you can’t leave/let go now, you may ask yourself:

2.       Can I change the situation?
Note that this applies only to situations and not to people. You can change a situation but never other people directly, no matter how much you want or how hard you try – unless you threaten them, which will only change their behavior until the threat is gone, but in the same time that would make you a tyrant instead of a leader; the only way to change others is by changing yourself and leading by example. Therefore, if you cannot change the situation, be prepared to:

3.       Accept it by changing your perspective about it

It‘s very important to keep in mind that whenever you make a decision based on intuition it doesn’t take long to find the answer, as it comes from within; on the other hand, when the thought process kicks in and you start rationalizing everything by comparing, analyzing and worrying, not only you might not make the right decision, but it’ll take you a while to find the answer – and you might also have the tendency to ask others’ opinions about it.

Moreover, when the decision is based on your inner voice you’ll instantly feel peaceful and happy about it – while in the other case you would constantly wonder if you’ve made the right decision, second-guessing and worrying about the consequences.

Therefore, whenever you find yourself in a situation that makes you unhappy the most important thing is to be honest with yourself, take responsibility for it and find the things that keep you from moving forward; in other words, find the root cause of the problem and take care of it, as treating only the effects will lead you back in the same vicious circle, over and over again.

Taking action is the key – regardless of its type: leaving, changing the situation or accepting it. All of these possible actions to be taken are either physical or psychological. When you indulge yourself in an unfavorable situation, you fuel your own unhappiness by not doing anything to change it – in other words, you remain stuck and learn nothing, as Eckhart Tolle states it.

Don’t sit back and wait for life to happen to you.  Have a plan and take the needed steps to create what you want. ~ Steve Maraboli 

The following is generally known, but have also learned it from my own experience: When you know what you want, you’ll always find a way to get it and never seek excuses of why it cannot be done.

There are no obstacles big enough for someone who is determined, as they will be seen as part of the process, as learning experiences or milestones. Quite the contrary, someone who doesn’t have a clear vision and is uncertain about their goals will always see the very small challenges along the way as big obstacles and most of the times will give up before even starting.

Moreover, those people will procrastinate all the time, will avoid making any type of commitments for the fear of failure or in expectation of something better to show up and change the situation for them; also, in many cases they will wait for the “right time” to act, being at the mercy of the events – which is merely an illusion, as there is no such thing as “right time”. There’s only one way to wait, but many others to create – and thus, the option that you choose will determine your future.

It all starts with awareness, with being present in this moment and accepting the situation as it is, followed by clearly defining what you really want and its purpose, and then taking inspired action towards it. Please note that doing something for the sole purpose of the outcome will not make you happy once you attain it if you’re not enjoying the process along the way – for example, taking a job solely for the money while you don’t like the company or the work itself.

Therefore, learn to trust your instinct, which will always guide you in the right direction – it’s where creation, inspiration and all the answers come from. Make your thinking process work for you and not against you by focusing on the actions that you can take right now and avoid worrying, as it serves no useful purpose and it doesn’t solve the situation, but rather complicate it.

Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. ~ Steve Jobs

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