Whew. It is tough out there right now and I know its temporary, but this is like the weirdest position we have ever been in, at least in my lifetime.
Well, we all saw the movies warning us it was a possibility but that was Hollywood right? Apparently not. So, we find ourselves in this time of sheer uncertainty and yet we still have to live and make decisions and raise children and cook dinner.
For us people pleasers and perfectionists out there this is a true nightmare. Decisions are hard enough when we have to weigh other people’s potential reaction as well as trying to figure out if it’s the right thing to do or the best thing to do.
But add a freaking pandemic to the mix and we are totally off kilter! OMG.
Small decisions like should I let my kids play with the neighbors or should I go to my favorite international farmers market or should I keep my haircut appointment have suddenly taken up more space in our minds than before.
Here’s a few ideas that might help!
- Don’t make decisions on the fly. In other words, if you can, take a minute before you move forward with a decision.
We are ALL in flight/fight/freeze mode right now. We are more connected to our reptilian brain right now, and that isn’t a great baseline for decision making.
Remember to breathe a few times and think things through. Tap your mind on the shoulder and say, “hey, lets talk about this for a minute.” I venture to say that the majority of us have at least 60 seconds to breathe and breathe again and then breathe again and THEN ask ourselves how we want to proceed.
- Ask your heart and your gut for help. We have to, and I really mean it this time, HAVE to stop automatically following our minds and the stories it tells us.
Our bodies are a goldmine of information and the sensations like a tight jaw, a furrowed brow, shoulders by your ears, clinched stomach, all of those things are telling us stuff and we ignore those signals so easily. Its time to get our bodies on board.
If I ignore my body signals I will find myself up in the control tower of my mind spending a TON of time rehearsing, planning, analyzing, mind reading other people, and texting 10 friends to get their approval.
If I listen, the answer is a clear yes or no. And I know this when I let my mind and body be in the same space and time. When I stop time traveling into the future and I feel my feet on the floor, my butt in this chair, look around and see where I am sitting, notice a few things in the room, notice my jaw is clinched and intentionally relax it and then consciously breathe for about 2 minutes.
Then the clarity comes to me. Its not always immediate, but I get glimpses of what really fits my values and priorities and then I build on that.
The body is the bomb people!
- What’s most important to you? You, just you, not you being selfish and an asshole, but just you. If it were just you, no one could judge you, what would you say is most important to you?
Values and priorities are personal. I cannot argue with your values. That being said, people are people and they will share their opinions without regard. So when you need to share your decision just factor in that others might not understand. And that is truly okay. It might not feel good, but they are not the ones that have to live inside your skin and think your thoughts.
Right now, people are either going to think you are overreacting or not reacting enough. This is where people pleasers and perfectionists get caught.
We want others to like us and think we are right and smart and have our shit together.
So, factor that into your decision making. Give yourself time. Go to your values and priorities. You will feel more grounded in sharing what you have decided.
- Don’t let the doubt and guilt sway you. Doubt is always always always going to be part of the decision making process. Like always. Like its not going away. No guarantees in this world.
I am pretty sure this is where F.O.M.O. comes from. The very nature of deciding means that we are choosing one thing over the other. That means we leave one option on the table. Well, kinda.
Here is what I have learned about internal struggles…you don’t have to pick one side.
One side doesn’t “win” the battle. BOTH sides have valid points and BOTH sides need to be heard.
I truly believe this relieves doubt. This and knowing what is important to you.
Here is an exercise to help with the back and forth that comes with decisions, especially if you are in the people pleaser and perfectionist camp.
Imagine you are your own marriage counselor. You have two people sitting in front of you and you are curious about BOTH of them. They have lost curiosity towards each other, but you are there to hear them both out.
Let’s say one person is like a part of you. The part that says, “We should let our kids play with the neighbors” and the other person, or part, says, “We should social distance and not let the kids get together.”
You are driving yourself crazy trying to figure out which one is right or best or acceptable.
Get this argument, this internal tennis match, out of your head and down on paper. Choose one side to start and make a handful of bullet points or free write about this part’s opinion about the decision. Then go take a walk around your house or get a drink of water and breathe. Then come back and give the other part the same courtesy. Then do that same spin around your living room and drink water and breathe. Then come back to those two lists of bullet points or paragraphs and sit with one side for a minute. Notice what your body does in reaction to the information. Then look at the other part’s words and check in with the body. Put your values into the mix.
Next, and this is the important part…channel your inner marriage counselor…and acknowledge both parts as valid and understandable. Then see how you can proceed taking both into account. Maybe you let the kids play, but outside and not at the park.
Decisions are fast and furious right now. Even if you just try one of these things or do the exercise once…we are just trying to add a pause into the process of making decisions.
Go forth and be confident in your decisions. Everyone is in the same boat! This will pass. Give yourself grace as well as others.