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The feminine approach to making important decisions

A few days ago, I was on the phone with a client, feeling her pain as she shared that she’s uncertain about where to go in her marriage. She’s dissatisfied and confused, and feels guilty and overwhelmed. She has so many questions and conflicting desires, and her brain is noisy with ideas of what she could do, but no clarity about what she should do.

To make matters more confusing, as we went deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, we could see that there were so many emotional ties to family and past experiences. How was she to know what feelings were intuition vs. fear; instinct vs. conditioning? “I don’t know what to do!”, she cried. Not knowing what to do was incredibly painful for her, and the only thing that was clear was that it was unclear what to do.

I could so relate…
› I spent years agonizing over what to do about my marriage.
› I spent a year agonizing over what my niche and business name should be, and what my website should look like.
› I spent many months agonizing over whether to move to San Francisco full-time.

Why do we suffer through all this agony?

We agonize because we don’t want to sit with the pain of not knowing what to do. We can’t hear our inner voice and don’t fully trust it, so we obsessively focus on drafting pro/con lists, reading self-help books and gathering advice from friends and experts. The more we try to figure it out, the more overwhelmed and confused we feel. Every time one of the options we’re considering “wins” in our assessments, we feel a triumphant rush of certainty, only to be quickly returned back to the confusion and despair of not knowing what to do.

The problem is this: when we’re trying to “figure it out”, we’re in our head, rather than being present.

When we’re not present, the people we love feel like we’re not with them, so disconnection and dissatisfaction increase, effectively destroying intimacy in those relationships. If we look closely, we can see that this can be created with our partners, our children, our clients, businesses and bodies. When we’re not present, we feel deeply disconnected from our own inner guidance. We can’t discern our intuition from all the other voices in our awareness. We feel desperate and despairing.

When we stop trying to “figure it out”, instead of feeling confused, overwhelmed & worried, we feel playful, relaxed & free.  Clarity arises. {tweet it}

Here’s a very personal story, to illustrate: 6 weeks ago, I decided to move to San Francisco from NYC. The movers come next week.  At dinner with some girlfriends a few nights ago, one of them was shocked at how quickly it’s all happening.  As I reflected, I realized that it wasn’t because I had analyzed and strategized the decision from every possible angle — I actually made a decision some time ago to stop trying to figure it out. Instead of agonizing over the decision for the last several months, I knew that it would be clear when the time was right, and instead chose to put my focus on play, relaxation and being in my creative zone.  When clarity came 6 weeks ago, I wasted no time springing into action. I remember a time when I agonized over every big decision, rolling it back and forth in my mind in a torturous, unending calculation of pros and cons. I still do this from time to time, but have been practicing trusting the uncertainty and being patient until the time comes that I “know”.

THE FEMININE APPROACH TO MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS:

1. You first have to step out of pain, or you’ll make rash decisions. Your body, if given an option, will choose pleasure over pain. If you don’t consciously create pleasure, you will make hasty decisions in a desperate attempt to escape the pain of not knowing.  Instead, try this: right now, take a deep breath and flood your body with the feeling of trying to “figure it out” — it probably feels tight and constrictive.  Now, take a deep breath and allow your body to respond to the feeling of letting go of “figuring it out”.  Letting go probably gives you the experience of expansion and openness — much more pleasurable.  When your brain tells you “Hey! You need to figure this out!”, you can close your eyes, and relax into the pleasure of letting go, letting your body (the home of your “gut feelings” and “inner knowing”) take the lead. You will find yourself more present and relaxed, and clarity will arise more naturally.  It’s scary to acknowledge “I don’t know”, but it’s less painful than fighting for clarity. There’s deep wisdom to be found through your pleasure.

2. Now that you’re out of the pain, ask yourself, “How do I want to feel?” Because pleasure is wise and our minds are noisy, let desire be your guide.  From that more relaxed state, you can ask yourself how you want to feel.  For example, you may say you want to feel playful, joyful and calm.

3. Go have fun living your life, creating more of those delicious feelings you want.  If you want to feel playful, joyful and calm, what will create those feelings?  A walk in the park?  A pedicure with a girlfriend?  A sweaty late-night dance party? Living in your desired feelings will put you into alignment, inviting inspiration and clarity to join you.

4. Share your visions with your girlfriends.  Women are most excellent at holding intentions.  Think of the women in your life — whether it’s one or a group — who you feel safe with and loved by.  Paint the picture of your desires and allow them to cradle the vision with you.  You’re not alone.

5. See the light at the end of the tunnel and have patience.  Whatever you’re going through, even if it’s frustrating and painful at times, is leading you to something good. Be patient with yourself and this journey.  Babies and websites and clarity are birthed when they’re good and ready.  Relax into letting go, play, dream, and trust.

—> In the comments below, I’d love you to share your story of how you made a quick decision after giving up “figuring it out” or any tips you have for making important decisions without confusion, overwhelm or worry.  I can’t wait to talk with you about this!

21 Comments

  1. I love this post Nisha! I will try the five steps you suggested and I hope it will help. I’m a pros & cons list addict, it’s a problem and a waste of time and energy. AND good luck with the move! You are making the right move, I am sure of it! Love & support, Ritu

  2. My major decisions I generally just stop thinking and go with my gut. It’s not to say I don’t have it in my head but rather than make endless lists and obsessing I just leave there. I generally know what I want to do after a few weeks.

    Lately I’ve been hating my part-time job. It helps keep my afloat while I grow my business. But I have a boss who likes to rule through threats rather than incentives. I’ve decided that I will work this job to the best of my ability without worrying if he lets me go. I make my goals a game so that I’m not dragged down. And if he does fire me there will be something else waiting in the wings. Knowing that keeps me from worrying about the what ifs.

  3. I should have added that I am looking for something else that I’d enjoy more but until it comes along I decided to be okay in my current situation.

  4. Loved this post. Loved it.

    I’ve spent the last couple of years (on and off) trying to figure out where I was supposed to be heading and trying to force myself into determining and executing a new path (any path) right NOW. I was depressed, miserable and no more certain that I’d ever been. In fact, I was making myself even more uncertain and scared that I would end up trapping myself in a place, career etc. that I didn’t want by trying to force the decision.

    Over the course of the last six months, I’ve come to terms with not knowing where I’m headed, but feeling 100% open to what comes my way. I can’t tell you the overwhelming feeling of peace/calm that has entered my life and the joy in just knowing that the right adventure will present itself when it’s ready. For now, I get to just enjoy the ride.

  5. I definitely used to be such an overanalyzer. I suppose in some ways, I still am. But slowly I’m starting to see the importance of just moving forward…being present…staying true to myself. There is absolutely no way to plan for everything that might happen! So why try? I think we often use that stuff to stop ourselves from taking big leaps and doing what we’re afraid of. Other times, we truly don’t know what to do, but if we surrender and trust, clarity will come. Good stuff.

  6. This came at a timely moment…when I need to work through and make some decisions and choices..in the past, I would feel a sense of “desperation” (which I think is one of your most important words in your post). I’ve actually experienced the benefits of not obsessing or feeling desperate over an issue and just letting the right answer work through–and the outcome was even better than I could imagine!! At this moment, not letting the reaction be of “desperate obsession” and letting the feeling be that of calm and trust is the answer–at this moment. The solution will appear when it’s time and work out–nothing lasts forever. What sometimes puzzles me is when those around you, during that problem time, feel you’re “acting irresponsible” for not being “desperate” and “scared” and making the time to be calm and have fun–for that moment.

  7. For months I was miserable deciding whether or not to quit publishing my magazine. Everyone around me said yes, but I couldn’t decide. After finally decided that I would shut it down, I spent almost a week without any children, caught up on sleep and food, walked around New Orleans a bit and then found a renewed zeal in my mission. Thus, it’s still open and I’m working on ways to continue to make it work. I was too worried about what others defined as “successful” and that was keeping me from focusing on the real work.

  8. Nish, I’m headed out to purchase appliances and tile for our renovation. This post is perfectly timed. I choose to trust, surrender and accept my decisions. Annnnnnd go! xx

  9. YES, Yes, yes…

    Trusting myself, that I know the answer to what it is I am seeking… that has been my mantra for the last 6 weeks since I asked for a divorce from my husband. Well, it was something I had been exploring prior to that, but I really embraced it recently.

    It was so interesting for me to see how often I don’t trust myself!

    What is up with that? I have squashed my true inner voice with all the shoulds, and coulds, and what THEY want or think.

    It’s only now that I am just beginning to start my created life. And I’m starting at zero because I have only an inkling of where I want to go.

    I mean, this is really IT, right? There is no one else to live my life.

    Just writing this brought me to tears.

    Thank you.

    • Victoria – So true!
      It’s so easy for our own inner voices to be drowned out by all the stimuli coming at us from many people and from all directions. What I’ve found is that sometimes it just takes a little bit of quiet time and a lot of faith and “muscle-building” to build, recognize and trust that inner voice/intuition muscle. That’s one of the key points I focus on in the work I do. Sometimes it’s like we can’t even hear ourselves think and to just be, and sometimes that’s really all we need to build that muscle.
      Elizabeth

  10. Hi Nisha,
    New subscriber to your enewsletter!

    I can so relate to this post. I’ve sometimes described my decision-making process as a full body experience – the headaches from all the thinking of trying to figure it out, the chest clenching and stomach twisting of trying to think through the different possibilities and possible results of each decision…resulting in A LOT of overthinking.

    I still do this more than I’d like to admit, but now I know that when I’m feeling that way, I should NOT make the decision at that time if I can avoid it. Instead, think about the pros and cons and/or discuss it with someone who will listen without judgment and reflect back both what I’m saying and what I’m not saying…and then wait. Pray to G-d for guidance and help. And then step away from the decision and try not to think about it too much.

    And then an amazing thing often happens – so thankful! That inner voice comes up with the answer. It’s either very clear Option A or Option B or sometimes it’s actually some sort of creative or not all or nothing solution that leaves me feeling like I can breathe again.

    Elizabeth

  11. There’s no better way for me to let go of overwhelm or indecision than to have a chat with my favourite coach. Something magical happens during our conversation and suddenly I move from overwhelm or fear to spaciousness.

    From there I can make my best move 🙂

  12. Hey beautiful ladies 🙂

    Synchronicity. Pretty awesome when things (this post) REALLY comes when you need it 🙂

    I can definitely relate to this and here is an example.

    This past January, I bought the domain to my current website (one that I had talked about building for almost 7 months prior). I thought buying a domain would spring me into action…. which it sort of did, and then I went right back into *procrastination*. Then 5 months later in June, I was gearing up for WDS and decided I was ready to birth my new site WITHOUT all of the pressure I had put on my self to have-it-all-figured-out. I got up my best draft one in about 48 hours. So many people commented to me on how quick it was, but in actuality it was months in the making and when the time was right, I just got shit done.

    Going through a similar experience now and totally embracing the *letting go*.

    xox

  13. Hey Nisha – thrilled to have found you and really appreciate this post! I love what you said about desires and feeling the way we want to feel. This has been really breakthrough for me, so thanks for the reminder 🙂

    One thing I often remember when I’m in the middle of something that seems so huge and overwhelming is – not to take life too seriously. If we step back and look back at the big picture, we get back to what’s really important and our troubles don’t seem so big.

    • Yay, welcome Jenni! Thank you, too, for the
      reminder not to take life too seriously.

      Life is here to enjoy 🙂

      With Love,
      Nisha

  14. Great post, Nisha! I too, often try to “figure out” the situations of my life and it only causes me more pain and confusion. I’m getting married next year, and can get stuck in my head of “is this right?” rather than just enjoying my relationship. Now I just relax and enjoy and improve upon my relationship. Gut instinct vs. fear is a tricky one, but when we learn to go to our heart center and relax our body will tell us what to do 🙂

    I love your story about the move to San Francisco! About a year and a half ago I made a big cross country move. While I can agonize over small decisions, something just told me this is what I needed to do and I’m going to make it happen!

    xox

    • Alexis, congratulations on your upcoming wedding, sister.
      I love that you’re relaxing into BEING together 🙂

      Thanks for reading and sharing yourself with us!

      Much Love,
      Nisha

  15. After daydreaming about a trip to Iceland for many years…I had a bolt of insight regarding a new project idea, checked the website and found deeply discounted tickets available. I took it as a sign…pushed purchase and am getting ready to make the trip in a few weeks. thanks for the great reminder about surrender and letting go.

    • Woo Hoo! When do you leave, Shelly?
      I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland.

      xo
      Nisha

  16. New subscriber here and just in time too! I’ve been agonizing over my niche, branding, and web design for months (years) and am starting to feel the impulsive decision-making coming on just to end the torture!

    It’s funny because when I quit my former career, it was the easiest decision in the world. I’d done two years of prep work leading up to the moment the decision needed to be made. I worked on myself and my goals so when the to-quit-or-not-to-quit doubt started in the final months before quitting, I could easily let it go and remember all the ways I wanted to feel. I had a particular image I kept in my head of teaching kids laughing yoga – it made me feel so light-hearted and playful; the opposite of how I felt in my former career.

    Now the doubt feel different and I think the difference comes from a lack of clarity and direction. When I quit I didn’t know what was coming, but I didn’t feel like I needed to; I was just working on myself and preparing. Now I feel like I want clarity because I’m ready to act! I’ve got creative gifts to share!

    Thanks for the post!

    • Welcome, Alexis, and thanks so much for reading!

      Congrats on taking the leap and following your
      dreams, sister. I love that when you felt doubt
      you “remembered all the ways I wanted to feel”.
      So beautiful.

      It sounds like it’s time for you to get support
      as you move forward! It might be time for a
      coach, mentor or mastermind 🙂

      Cheering for you!

      Much Love,
      Nisha

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