You might worry about how to do things right in your life. In this post, I explain how you can make the right decisions, and also what you can do if you realise you have taken the wrong path.
When you want to make the right decisions, you need to have available, correct and/or sufficient information. You also need to have a clear head in order to do that.
Physiological reasons why we make wrong decisions
You use the wrinkly part of your brain, the cortex, for solving problems and thinking things through. It is where you do your rational thinking, and make decisions.
Your thinking is impaired when you are tired, stressed or anxious in any way. The functioning of your brain moves deeper to a more primitive part – the limbic system. The limbic system activates a survival response that does not lend to rational thinking and rational decisions. If you are stressed, you need to lower your arousal level to function effectively.
The Amygdala, a structure in your brain’s primitive limbic system, sees excessive demands as a threat to you, and it sounds an alarm. Stress hormones get released and you go into a state of increased physiological and emotional arousal. You have activated what is known as, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). At this point, when the SNS is activated and switched on, your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is switched off. The PNS is the mechanism which regulates your calm and relaxed state.
How to do things right in your life
I will explain some things that you can do to help activate the parasympathetic nervous system. By doing that, the sympathetic nervous system switches off and you achieve a calmer state. This is like a set of old-fashioned scales, when one side is down, the other is up. Applied to your body, when you’re highly aroused (SNS on), you can’t be relaxed. When you’re relaxed (PNS on) you can’t be highly aroused. One is incompatible with the other!
For you to take control, one thing that you might do is what’s called abdominal breathing. Some people know it as diaphragmatic breathing, others might know it as yoga breathing. Allow the air you breathe to come in through your nose and go to the bottom part of your lungs, in the abdominal area. As you breathe in, push your stomach out and allow your diaphragm, that muscle below your lungs, to move down as your lungs inflate. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth. You can see a demonstration of abdominal breathing in a video posted to YouTube. Do this and you can get into a very relaxed pattern of breathing. Your arousal level comes down as you activate the PNS.
Another way to activate the PNS is using a meditative-type technique. I made available a video of the Light Stream technique demonstrating that. This is a visualization of a coloured, healing light going through your body. It can be very powerful for reducing your arousal level.
There is another video I’ve made available which demonstrates body mindfulness. By noticing your body, and accepting unconditionally the sensations you notice, you can induce a shift to the calm state.
By doing the breathing exercise, light stream meditation, or body mindfulness, you activate the PNS and allow your arousal level to go down. You could stick with one of these, or you could use them interchangeably.
Clouded thinking due to tiredness
I mentioned earlier that another thing to avoid when you’re making decisions is tiredness. Put off making that important decision. Don’t rush it, allow yourself to rest. When you have rested, your head will be clear and you can then, more safely, make your decision.
Acting on information available
When you have got yourself into the right frame of mind, with a clear head, gather the information you need in front of you. Take a sheet of paper with a line down the middle, making two columns. Label one column ‘FOR’, and the other, ‘AGAINST’. List the respective points in each column. It’s quite a concrete way of getting the thoughts out of your head and allowing yourself to assess them objectively.
When you have made that decision, go with it, but evaluate as you go how things are progressing. From time to time, you will find that you may have made the wrong decision. If that is the case, stop, then find the right path. It’s like driving a car and taking the left fork when you come to a crossroads – after a few minutes, you realize you are on the wrong road. What should you do? Should you continue on the wrong road? Should you retrace your path and decide on a different road to take? The same principle applies here.
Before you make a decision, make sure you have the necessary information and have a clear head. That will allow you to think clearly and make a rational decision, based on the information you have available at that time. If you find that you have made a wrong decision, change and choose a different option based on your new information.
I hope this post has been helpful to you and helped point you in the right direction. If you wish to watch a video of me speaking about how to do things right in your life, please watch it on my YouTube channel.
I want to see you achieve what you are truly capable of. I’ll see you up there!