As our country begins to open up, people are scrambling to determine whether and how much to allow themselves and their kids back into the world. When I speak with women, some sound confessional (regardless of which way they’re leaning), while others are throwing their hands up without a clue of how to proceed. I can relate on all accounts.
I’m not qualified to speak to the process of men, but I believe that women (generally speaking of course) are plagued by an inability to hear and heed our own voices. As for me, I first learned of my habit of disregarding my intuition in a conflagration of humiliation. My work centers around inspiring women to learn this crucial skill before any myriad of events from mild malcontent, to melt-down, to crisis, to self-loathing abound.
The key to confident decision-making, not to mention self-love, healthy relationships, and feeling like a success at work and at home, boils down to one skill: tuning in to yourself. However, it’s ingrained in women to look outside of us before looking in. We’re concerned not only with what others need and want, but what others are doing (because they probably know better than us), and what others will think of us if we do something different.
The problem is, the opinions and judgment of others (and our own toxic voices) make our brains noisy, and a noisy brain is not a place where coherent, wise decisions are made. Plus, the decision for one person may not be right for another based on loads of factors. Here’s what to do:
Take a full five minutes. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Let your mind go and settle into your body. Ask yourself these questions: What feels right to me? What do I think?
While you’re searching:
- Stay away from Fear and from Ego. When we make decisions from fear or from ego, we aren’t grounded in ourselves and we’ll continue to fret over them. If you get quiet, you can sort out what’s reactionary and what is empowered choice. Knee jerk reactions and inner knowing hold two very different energies. You know what the difference feels like. Allow yourself the time to shift into grounded empowerment.
- Notice if you’re hearing others’ voices. When you feel your mind stray to what your best friend, spouse, parent or sibling might say, bring yourself back. This is about hearing what you think, not them.
- If you’re a parent, be a strong one. No one wants their kids to be unhappy and no one wants to deal with arguing. Whether your child wants to lick park benches to spite you, or your child is a Nervous Nelly and has a panic attack when you go into your yard to pick weeds, you are the parent. If you go against your instincts in order to placate your kids, you’ll only end up with a different uncomfortable emotion. If your kids are older, have discussions with them of course, but then go back to your five minutes of breathing and checking in with yourself to make your ultimate decision.
- Keep it personal not political. It’s no secret that COVID has become extremely political. We have people who continue to insist COVID is a hoax, and others who act as though stepping on your front porch is akin to ingesting rat poison. If you align with one party or another, but are feeling dissonance on this issue, recognize that your decision either way is not a grand political statement – no matter what others will try to make you believe – so don’t doubt yourself.
- Stop Judging. For the love of G-d, let’s stop judging each other. Grounded, empowered decisions result in living and let living. What other people are doing has no bearing on us. Take care of yourself and let others take care of themselves. While you’re at it, stop judging yourself too. If COVID is meant to teach us anything, it’s to become more whole and less separate – why else would the entire world be stuck in the exact same boat? If you feel yourself judging yourself or another person, go back to your five minutes of quiet because your decision is not pure – even if it remains the same after another five minutes.
- Recognize when you need more information. If you’ve given it a good college try and you’re still unsure, maybe you need to do more due diligence. There’s no shortage of information and there are qualified experts on both sides of your decision. Read up and see what resonates most.
Only hindsight will be twenty-twenty. At the end of the day, we make the best decisions we can with the information we have, and it’s our job to hold true to what we think is best. This is far easier done when the initial decision is made with inner guidance. Even if you wish you would have gone out, or stayed in more at the end of all of this, you’ll know in your heart you did the right thing, because you followed your intuition.*
Trust yourself; you should be the most trustworthy person you know.
*Hint: If you feel defensive or apologetic about your decisions, you’re not aligned with your intuition. Repeat the exercise.