January 21, 2019
Let’s imagine that you and I had woken up in Rome in the year 201 AD. Steven, a friend, was having a problem with his wife, Alice. Alice was showing signs of selfishness. Heaven forbid! At dinner last night, she even dished up an equal amount of meat for herself and her husband.
Fortunately we all live in the same town as Claudius Galenus, better known as Galen. This well-known Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher also treats the professional gladiators and wrote more than 500 books on medicine.
Steven took his wife to Galen for the treatment of “selfishness”. He gave a brilliant solution (one that was practiced until the start of the Renaissance in the 1400’s).
According to this physician too much fluid in the body caused temperamental problems. It’s simple – Alice had too much blood. Galen treated patients with this problem by advising them to cut down on the consumption of meat and secondly he made small cuts in their veins to rid the body of some blood. (I think I would have been a regular blood donor!)
All the above mentioned facts are true. Since the beginning of time human beings have been intrigued, annoyed, concerned and ashamed about temperamental problems. A few days ago one of my prior clients, Zandi Durr shared about the changes that took place in her life during 2018. (Watch her video on my Facebook!) When she mentioned her battle with indecisiveness, I immediately realized that a large percentage of my clients shared her frustration.
I can’t help but wonder if the Roman Dr. Galen would have suggested that indecisiveness is a sign of too little blood?
Here are a few of my thoughts on this topic:
Change the negative association.
It is helpful to remove the negative association with the word indecisiveness. I can recall so many instances where clients became visibly tense when I asked them questions. In these cases a quick explanation normally followed about not knowing, not being able to make up their mind, experiencing a “blank” moment.
Reassuring them that they could take their time before they articulate their thoughts normally allowed them to relax with permission to not know YET.
I am aware that certain opportunities do not pose the luxury of time before action needs to be taken, YET MOST DO. People underestimate the amount of pressure from the self because of a personal sense of immediacy in decision making.
Why not befriend the word and change it to “in-decisive-ness”? In this way we can utilise it as the starting point. A stationary position that allows sifting through information, considering pro’s and con’s, focusing on our inner knowing and seeking council.
It seems counter intuitive, but the more we relax, the quicker we reach a stage of clarity. If you have a strong belief built into your identity about YOU BEING INDECISIVE then your subconscious mind will trip you up even before questions or opportunities present themselves. You will believe that you DON’T know even before you NEED to.
Ax the anxiety.
If you are prone to anxiety when opportunity knocks on the door, then a habit of deep breathing several times a day will serve you well. Anxious people often breathe quickly and sometimes even hyperventilate. Fast, shallow breathing is associated with visualizing. Seeing big scary images is a crucial part of creating anxiety. When someone breathes deeply into their belly they often stop the visualization and drop down directly into their authentic feelings.
Like I once heard a gentleman say, “The only place not to be is in my imagination because that is where all the really dangerous stuff happens.”
Breathe your way out of anxiousness. That image of you which can’t decide or which is prone to making wrong decisions. (Helpful hint: breathe in for 4 counts, hold the breath for one count and breathe out for 8 counts. Repeat at least four times. Do this as often as possible.)
Identify and describe the monster under your bed.
Take some time out to discover what drives your indecisiveness.
Which scary monsters are hiding behind your choices and decisions?
Not so long ago I emphasized the importance of naming and describing our monsters in no uncertain terms so that they can shrink and lose their power. https://youtu.be/4-mPuUqhE5I
Here are some of the monsters that surfaced during conversations with clients:
Fear of Failure. The fear of making mistakes can have a paralyzing effect on us. This might have
taken root in our childhood years when a parent or authority figure with a strong personality punished or condemned mistakes.
Failure is a vital part of growth and discovery. Every success story includes failure. Take the fear out of failure by saying yes to it. Saying yes to failure does not imply that you aim at it. Not at all. The one and only aim should be to succeed and follow through with your decision. You simply agree to the small print that your decision might not turn out as expected and you are okay with it. Failure will be temporary. It is a wonderful master, willing to teach us the important lessons that success alone doesn’t offer.
Distrust of inner knowing. Being disconnected with your own God-given well of wisdom can be one of the major causes for indecision. This can possibly also originate in childhood years. Some parents raise their children with constant watch-before-you-leap messages and remind them of all the dangers in the world. They repeat instructions and correct the child should he or she deviate from their rules, focusing on the danger of doing this. The child grows up distrusting their own compass and continues to depend on direction from external authority figures in order to feel safe.
True wisdom and insight naturally arises when we are relaxed and trusting that we will know and learn what is needed for each moment through a process of discovery.
Preventing painful consequences. All the energy gets taken up to secure options that do not have any painful or disturbing consequences. To run through all the “what-if” scenarios in life can be very time consuming, costly and emotionally draining. A child growing up under difficult circumstances, with a lack of resources and unfulfilled needs can easily vow to do everything in their power to prevent these things in the future.
The building blocks for sound decision making should be that we are created to be survivors and therefore can get through any unforeseen consequences that result from our choices. This does not free us from making well informed choices with honourable motivations.
It simply means that if you follow the process of decision making with an open mind, allowing all the stages (yes even in-decisive-ness), remaining calm by conscious breathing, expecting inner guidance to lead the way and being supported by external confirmation, then you can make a powerful decision without the fear of failure or painful consequences.
May your in-decisive-ness lead to brave choices that will alleviate the suffering in yourself, your circle and the world.