How To Own Your Decisions
Hey, I’m glad you’re here. This is episode 10 and I want to share something that helps me own my decision making.
Researchers tell us an average adult faces 35k decisions a DAY. 35 THOUSAND a day.
That feels incredibly overwhelming, doesn’t it?
Think about the decisions you may have made in the last 60 seconds-
what to read, what to listen to, whether to read the transcript or listen to this podcast, to sip your drink now or in 7 seconds, to check your phone when it pings, to cross your legs, to see why the dog is barking…Those are small ones but it’s easy to see how they add up. We make thousands of quick, mindless decisions every day as well as the bigger, more impactful ones. We’ve got a LOT going on in the course of a regular average day, no matter who you are.
Since you’re listening to this, you are a person who wants to OWN your life and obviously a large portion of life consists of making decisions. So let’s work on refining your decision skills.
There’s something that I do before I make medium to large sized decisions that helps me. I don’t do it for the smaller ones.
It’s something you may never have thought of or, if you have, you skipped over it entirely but it makes a huge difference both in my ease of making a decision AND how I feel about my choice later.
I want you to experience this for yourself.
If you’re in a spot where you can, do this right along with me as I talk you through it.
I’m going to give you a series of instructions and as you do each one, keep it going, keep the action in place.
Tense your shoulders and raise them up towards your ears and keep them there.
Squint your eyes
Furrow your brow
Clench your teeth down
Pull your head down and drop your chin towards your chest
Curl your arms in
Squeeze your hands into fists
Pull your stomach in hard, tighten all the muscles in your body- your arms, legs, your butt cheeks
Contract your legs all the way down to your feet
Bend your toes under as hard as you can
Now say “I’m happy and open”
It feels ridiculous, doesn’t it?
You can relax and let it all go if you haven’t already.
Could you actually feel happy when you said it? Were you even really breathing while you did this? Probably not.
It’s HARD to feel happy or open, to be optimistic or to think clearly or breathe deeply when your body is tense and contracted. Yeah, this is a little bit dramatic but how often are we tense or slumped or breathing sp shallowly we’re barely getting oxygen into our system?
Now let’s do the opposite.
Roll your shoulders up, back and down to relax them away from your ears
Hold your head up
Straighten your spine
Open your eyes comfortably gaze forward
let your brow, your forehead’s unfurrowed
Open your mouth slightly so your teeth aren’t clenched
Open your hands and wiggle your fingers open
Whether you’re standing or sitting, be as tall as you are and relax
Take a deep breath, fill your lungs, get a deep belly breath if you can
Let it out
Now say “I’m happy and open”
It’s much easier to feel open when your body matches your words and your feelings.
Our nervous system runs through our entire body so we want to give all our bodily systems an optimal operating environment and the ability to clearly communicate with our brain.
And breathing deeply and thoroughly- well, that gets oxygen flowing through our bodies and our brains. We need that. It helps us think clearly.
When you’re making decisions, let your body help you.
I call it Centering Myself.
Our physical bodies can give us a lot of information about what we’re thinking and feeling AND give us a lot of help.
Centering yourself can help you be calm, mindful and to focus on the decision you’re getting ready to make.
You want to position your body in a way where you feel a relaxed confidence before you move into your decision making process.
You may have seen Dr. Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. She did this back in 2012. It’s still one of the most watched TED talks.
She’s a Harvard psychologist who believes that our body language and our posture impacts how others see us and how we see ourselves. She talks about ‘power poses’ and how they can boost the amount of confidence we feel in ourselves. One of the takeaways from her talk is to stand in the Superman stance- you know, stand tall and straight, shoulders back, chest out, hands on hips, legs firmly planted. And she says being in a power pose will get confidence coursing through your body. So anytime you need confidence, you should stand in a power pose to get ready.
Since her talk came out, there’s been debate about the robustness and the replicability of her original study. There’s support and there’s disagreement on it so it’s interesting to follow the discussions.
There have been at least 55 similar studies that suggest that power posing does have a strong impact on your emotions and on how powerful you feel. So you know, you look powerful, you feel powerful, you can be powerful.
Now in my reading, there’s a book I’ve come across that I really like. It’s Amanda Blake’s Your Body is Your Brain.
She talks about a concept called embodiment. Here’s the definition from her- our extraordinary ability to put complex actions and interactions on autopilot so that “what comes next” or “how to respond” become second nature.
Now we have embodied physical skills like typing on a keyboard or riding a bike. We’ve done them so often you don’t have to stop and think about where’s the A key on my keyboard or how do I pedal this and stay up? No, we’ve done it so often, it just flows naturally. It’s second nature to us.
We’ve also embodied ways we experience emotions and how we relate to other people.
Amanda Blake’s comment about Dr Cuddy’s original study is she thinks they didn’t take it far enough. That just a few minutes of power posing won’t have a long term effect so that’s why we don’t always see the results of the original study are exactly replicated. She says the “fake it till you make it” idea would be better defined as “practice it until it’s embodied”.
Here’s my take on it.
My take is don’t fake it til you make it.
Practice it until you become it.
Practice experiencing your body in a relaxed balanced posture- open arms, hands and heart. It will literally help you be open to clear thinking and decision making.
Even early on, as you begin to do it, you can calm your mind and your body to focus on the decision you want to make. The more you do it, the more you’ll teach your body and mind to do this until this is embodied. Your body will know how to settle into relaxed focus.
There are many, many other things I can share with you about how to make decisions big and small and we’ll talk about them later. But I just really wanted to share this one thing that is such an important part of my decision making process- to stop and prepare my body and my mind to make the decision.
Now I want to read a poem. I can feel some of you rolling your eyes, “A poem?” I’ve come across this on Facebook. The guy’s name is John Roedel and he expresses this so beautifully. It ties into what we’re talking about here. He doesn’t have it titled. I’ll just read it.
my brain and
a decade ago
over who was
to blame about
how big of a mess
I have become
they couldn’t be
in the same room
with each other
now my head and heart
share custody of me
I stay with my brain
during the week
and my heart
gets me on weekends
they never speak to one another
– instead, they give me
the same note to pass
to each other every week
and their notes they
send to one another always
says the same thing:
“This is all your fault”
my heart complains
about how my
head has let me down
in the past
and on Wednesday
my head lists all
of the times my
heart has screwed
things up for me
in the future
they blame each
other for the
state of my life
there’s been a lot
of yelling – and crying
lately, I’ve been
spending a lot of
time with my gut
who serves as my
most nights, I sneak out of the
window in my ribcage
and slide down my spine
and collapse on my
gut’s plush leather chair
that’s always open for me
~ and I just sit sit sit sit
until the sun comes up
my gut asked me
if I was having a hard
time being caught
between my heart
and my head
I said I didn’t know
if I could live with
either of them anymore
“my heart is always sad about
something that happened yesterday
while my head is always worried
about something that may happen tomorrow,”
my gut squeezed my hand
“I just can’t live with
my mistakes of the past
or my anxiety about the future,”
my gut smiled and said:
“in that case,
go stay with your
lungs for a while,”
I was confused
– the look on my face gave it away
“if you are exhausted about
your heart’s obsession with
the fixed past and your mind’s focus
on the uncertain future
your lungs are the perfect place for you
there is no yesterday in your lungs
there is no tomorrow there either
there is only now
there is only inhale
there is only exhale
there is only this moment
there is only breath
and in that breath
you can rest while your
heart and head work
their relationship out.”
while my brain
was busy reading
and while my
heart was staring
at old photographs
I packed a little
bag and walked
to the door of
before I could even knock
she opened the door
with a smile and as
a gust of air embraced me
“what took you so long?”
~ john roedel (johnroedel.com)
I think John Roedel has beautifully expressed, ah, get your mind and your body, be with your lungs, be in the moment where there’s here, there’s breath. Prepare yourself, center yourself to make your best decisions.
Thank you for listening! I’d be honored if you’d share my podcast with a friend.
Now let’s go live, love, make some money and change the world!