The Power of Choice in Decision Making
Answer this……you have one choice left before death, what would it be? Pushed into a corner of time, we might find decision making easily in such a hypothetical situation. It might be easy to choose to be in the arms of the one we love, or to watch a beautiful sunset or hear the laughter of a grandchild. There is a story told by Buddha that shows us some of the essence of choice. It’s a story about a strawberry.
You are dangling from a vine having climbed down to avoid being eaten by a tiger. There is no escape, your death is inevitable. Two mice are gnawing at the vine so your death is imminent. Alongside you is a small wild strawberry bush and on it, a juicy berry ready to be eaten. If you grab it, which you can, you begin the process of falling.
What would you choose to do?
Choice is part of everything we do, from which jeans, to tea or coffee and even choosing to end a relationship. Go onto Youtube, surf the Web or dive into Ted Talks and you will find quite a bit about making good decision making and choice. There will be researchers illuminating us through study, experiment and many years of intellectual reflection as to why we choose and how to make easy those difficult choices. All of it is very valid and fascinating if, you want answers for your mind alone and from the mind. If you know, feel or believe, that all that you are is your mind and bio chemistry.
Yet we are much more than our minds.
You’ve got the power to choose
For most of us choice is something that we experience. The experience of which is felt through the whole body and not just the mind. For some they can place a feeling on the body, sometimes we would love to be able to place such a feeling on our bodies, if only we could feel. For it can be easy to become overwhelmed with life’s experiences as well as the seemingly infinite number of choices we are faced with, especially in modern life. So when overwhelmed we can become rather numb, literally too.
Within all of what we are, mind and body, we can learn how to make decisions and discover which decisions we need to make, which ones demand our attention. Plus make them, regardless whether they are hard or easy.
Rarely do the decisions that feel good, come alone from just a pen and paper titled ‘pros and cons’. If we give our mind alone the choice, we strictly speaking aren’t feeling our way through but only thinking.
Looking to nature for its wisdom… humans, unlike many of our fellow nature compatriots such as trees, dogs, even viruses, we humans are rarely limited in our actions or choices.
We have freedom.
So unlike a tree which can’t pick itself up and decide to grow in more space and light, or a dog whose walks in terms of style, time and space are determined by its owner or a virus that needs exact growing conditions.
We can choose.
Then we can act.
Decision Making and the Medicine Wheel
Knowing we can choose promotes a sense of freedom plus empowerment and therefore keep us safe too. Both are integral and essential aspect of our humanity. So whatever we need or yearn for, whatever keeps us safe and gives us freedom, it would be good to get to know ourselves from our body’s responses, as well as our mind. They are not mutually exclusive but integrated.
It is a rollercoaster alright – life. Sometimes events, emotions, feelings and our questioning of what if’s, all gets too much and we can get stuck. Stress, especially continued stress in particular can really cause the mind and body to become stuck, in a kind of loop or even feel detached.
Within the wisdom of the shamanic teachings of the Native American Medicine Wheel is revealed, what happens next. How to move on. It’s like a map, on ‘what it is to be human’. It shows us that choice, in the guise of ownership, allows us to move forward. With the inclusion of mind, body and spirit, our wants and/or needs can be met. Choice creates movement.
Are you stuck?
Based on a compass, the getting stuck in the Medicine Wheel happens most often in the West.
The West is the time of our lives where we can and do struggle long and hard, like our teenage years, find stuff out. Even into adulthood we can have a sense of what we want and who we are, yet we can’t always move completely freely toward that. We cant quite do, experience and make real our dreams. Well not entirely and some of us, we never do. It is the place to discover who I am. Stuck in this place of feeling too much or not feeling at all because it is too overwhelming to feel, it is often a dark and lonely place. It can lack focus and it can lead to us feeling lost, scared or simply what is the point? Being stuck in the West doesn’t ‘feel’ very freeing or empowering.
The North follows the West on a compass. The North represents among other aspects, the how to get out, to not be stuck. For it is about structure, form and action. It is the adult. It is about knowledge, getting educated in all ways possible but especially through experience. Stressful or not, all experience is a great teacher. The North is about ownership.
That’s about owning ‘my’ life and accepting it, all of it. Giving into that fully. No excuses anymore. Ownership is a much more empowering word than responsibility. I happen to feel it has more oomph too!
It is this that is behind and within choice. To choose what to do, what to be. Constantly. To own our lives, dreams, even our fears. To know we have a choice, that’s the empowering part. So it is when we are free that we can own our lives and it is when we own our lives that we set ourselves free.
To be an adult is to be free.
It is worth breaking free from the box. So it is about choice. Choosing to be free, be you. The act of choosing is fundamental to life, learning how to make decisions and where to get the information from, is what makes our choices good.
Where do we go to find out the information, the knowledge? How can we integrate mind and body together with our vitality or spirit? It means going inside ourselves to find out what creates our feelings, for it is these feelings, emotions, that guide us to what matters. Like a signpost on that map. Once we know what is on the inside it’s so much clearer for the choices that we truly want to make. Ones we wont regret. The ones that are easy to live with.
The hidden gem in all decision making is the knowing we have a choice. This truly has creation-like powers. It is creation if you think about it. In choosing, we create who we are and what we want or need to sustain ourselves. We all know we have choices but sometimes we don’t know how to make them or simply what to do. We can simply not see our options, it gets difficult, cloudy and we can get stuck.
Discovering more about yourself will assist you in how to make ‘feel good’ decisions. The power of choice does indeed set you free. And if you want a practical experience in how to do this, have a look at our workshop on the power of choice.
And my answer… I would go for the strawberry. It would be my last chosen experience. Plus, I love their taste. I’d want to end life feeling and tasting the sweetness and I’d then probably go down smiling. Why not…