How to Know When You’ve Made the Right Decision

Life is filled with decisions that need to be made in every moment of every day.

Some decisions are automatically made without even thinking about it, like grabbing food when you feel hungry. Some decisions take place without your awareness, like the beating of your heart or taking a breath.

Think of your brain simply as a sophisticated multidimensional command center and stimuli storage database, very much like a computer. Everything you think, see, hear, smell, taste, touch, sense and experience is recorded in your brain under various topics, determined by your perspective of what you think happened, why it happened and what it meant to you personally and to others involved. The emotional sensations attached to those memories are stored in your body … that’s why your brain can’t tell the difference between an experience originally occurring and your memory of the experience. When you think about a past experience you will experience it anew, complete with all its emotions intact.

The problem is that most people base decisions on their memories, and assume their memories are truth because they witnessed it personally or got it from someone they trusted or read it online. However, according to Donna Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the paper on the study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience, “Your memory of an event can grow less precise even to the point of being totally false with each retrieval.” The reason for the distortion, Bridge says, is the fact that human memories are always adapting. “Memories aren’t static,” she notes. “If you remember something in the context of a new environment and time, or if you are even in a different mood, your memories might integrate the new information.”

Have you ever had a change of heart when you learned something new about someone and it changed your opinion of that person? You went from not liking them to liking them simply because you had new information, and the instant you got that info, you changed the old memory. So next time you insist that your version of a story is the right one, the truth, stop and consider that you might be still hanging on to an old outdated memory that no longer is accurate. The best solution is to either rewrite the memory into a happy one or, if you can’t do that, let that memory go. One way to release a memory is to reconcile with anyone involve … clear the air so you can move on.

As you clear your mind of inaccurate, outdated and limiting memories, filters and biases that create obstacles and challenges in your path, more windows of opportunity will come your way.

Here are other important factors that determine how your decision will turn out:

  • How clear are you on what you want? Have you taken the time to really get to know yourself, what you like and don’t like and what brings you joy?
  • Do you believe you actually can live the vision you see for yourself? Or do you have a filter, belief or memory that whispers that you are not worthy of finding happiness? If so, until you are able to transform that unworthiness belief into knowing that you deserve all good things in your life, you’ll likely continue to fail by making wrong choices.
  • Are your thoughts, words and actions consistently flowing toward the outcome you desire? Or do you worry about problems, complications or what will happen if it doesn’t work out?
  • How attached are you to the outcome? If it doesn’t happen exactly how or as fast as you want it to, what does that mean or say about you? When you need something, even if that neediness is expressed emotionally as feeling empty, you are saying, “I don’t have what I want,” and that energy repels any movement toward what you do want. Attachment is very rigid and blocks the best outcomes from coming forward.

But the most important – and obvious – sign that you are on the right path is that things get better and better. For instance, if you’ve been envisioning a mate in your life and then you meet someone you’re attracted to, pay attention to how each interaction feels. Is it fun, relaxed and comfortable? Do you communicate easily and find you have a lot in common? Do you feel energized and stimulated when you are together? Does it get better each time you get together?

Those are sirens blaring that this is a right path.

So pay attention to how you feel. If you feel uncertain or worried about making a certain decision, then whatever you are considering in that moment is not right. At least not in the way you see it. Step back and give yourself a little time to see if you can identify what’s not right about it. Where would it lead you to? Is that the direction you want to go? If not, look for other options that feel better or risk making a mistake.

In the end, the simplest way to increase your odds of making great decisions all the time is to pay attention to yourself, to how you feel in your heart, to whether this step feels right. And as you get better at following your heart when making decisions, you’ll notice that your decisions start turning out even better than you hoped for.

© 2017 Carol A. James. All rights reserved

 

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