Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.
Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, 1930-2009
A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.
William Shedd, Theologian, 1820-1894
One of the tougher things about being a highly sensitive person is a tendency to worry and to want to be right in our decisions, (because mistakes lead to criticism, which we hate.) This can lead to a habit of waffling on decisions and not being firm because we’re uncertain about which decision will be the best one. This situation has two effects: first, it creates a lot of anxiety because of the uncertainty, and second, it makes it much harder for us to get what we want.
Let’s talk about the underlying causes of this first, before I get into the solutions to this dilemma. Being highly sensitive often comes with complicated baggage left over from childhood. Because our emotional radar was turned up to “11,” we were quickly frightened and intimidated by anger, shouting, irritation, edginess and cruelty by other people. The ordinary reaction to this, which is how most of us responded, was avoidance. “Keep out the bad emotions” became the standard method of coping. With this mentality though, came a host of counterproductive methods of running our lives.
One way of keeping out the bad emotions is to give other people what they want even if it is at our expense and even if we resent doing so. In other words, we become powerless victims of our own mindset. I can clearly remember doing this as a kid and it took a great many years to break myself of this habit. If we don’t break out of this, we can never become successful because there is ALWAYS someone else who wants what we want and wants to get ahead of us. Eventually, we have to choose to be better than them win in their place. It’s just the nature of life that many things that are worth having are scarce, with some people getting the prize and other people being left out in the cold. In some situations, to take the prize, we have to deny that same prize to someone else. It’s called winning.
We cannot succeed if we can be intimidated, and unfortunately, being easily cowed is built in to our psyche’s because of years of childhood conditioning that once implemented, is exceedingly difficult to deprogram. I never wanted to be this way and frankly, it runs counter to my character and I’ve done everything I can to rid myself of it, but apparently stuff programmed in childhood is in a special category of semi-hard wiring that is very challenging to untangle.
I know for example, that intimidation is nothing more than a dressed up version of plain old fear. And it only works by permission. No one else has control over our emotional responses and just because someone tries to intimidate me doesn’t mean that I am necessarily intimidated. (I would not take it seriously if a ten year old threatened to beat me up.) It does not work if you don’t buy into it. But just knowing this does not necessarily have any effect on the emotional process; there is a genuine gap between having knowledge and implementing it on an emotional level.
This is where decision making comes in handy. We tend to think of decision making as something that is analytical, but in fact, it has an emotional, intuitive side to it as well. It can cut through layers of emotional baggage and release us from deeply ingrained habits. I think that the reason for this is that decisions, at their best, are action oriented, both mentally and physically. Personally, I have found decision making to be a key component of my learning and spiritual growth.
The first step of decision making is awareness. When am I making decisions? What decisions am I making? What are the underlying assumptions I have about my decisions? In some cases, I’ve already made a decision even before it has reached my conscious awareness. In other situations I’ve waffled on making a decision and sometimes I know what I’m doing and I make my choice, fully understanding what’s going on.
The reason I pay close attention to this is that a lot of agitation comes from not consciously making decisions. Think about it this way: the next time you feel upset about something, ask yourself this: what am I going to do about it? It changes the situation from an emotional drama to a decision to either take action or do nothing. And believe me, most of the situations that get me upset are of the type where the only sensible course of action is to do nothing. Consciously deciding on doing nothing as a course of action removes the emotional drama from the situation. If I am mad at the way the government is run, for example, I have a very limited set of options that won’t completely take over my life to do something about it. I look at the situation objectively and realize the obvious: I am not going to do anything about it; ergo, stop getting in a lather about the whole thing.
There are also plenty of times when it isn’t that important what the decision is, only that we make one. In some cases, it reveals that we didn’t really want that choice and in other cases it shows that the choice didn’t really matter much at all. As a general rule, and this is totally counter intuitive but back up by studies, the simpler decisions can be deliberated, but we generally do better on complicated, important decisions if we decide quickly. Go figure.
Most importantly, I think, being decisive has psychic power. It can be grounding and centering as well. Whatever idea we have about something, being decisive strengthens it. It takes practice. One thing that I personally noticed is that when I first started practicing being decisive, I didn’t completely believe myself. This showed up in how well it worked and how convinced other people were when I made up my mind. The better I got at it, the more other people believed me. There is something about the tone of our voice and our subtle gestures that gives us away. Often making a decision will push the fearfulness of another person right out of my head.
Being decisive breeds confidence and being confident chases away anxiety and fear. It creates an aura that negativity has a harder time penetrating; it has made me more relaxed and calm, definitely less anxious. I think that it’s truly valuable to be aware of just how much of a role the art of making a decision has in shaping our happiness and well being.