I is for indecision, instinct and intuition. And impulsiveness.
Quite often a client will tell me that they are wracked with indecision over something. Shall I, shan’t I? If I do this, then that will happen, but if I do that, this might.
And quite often what they’ve tried already, and what they want to do with me is make a list, pros and cons.
I have wasted hours, days, probably weeks and months engaged in this kind of activity myself.
There’s a lot to be said for indecision, as a precursor to a decision. Predecision, let’s call it. I like to think carefully about what I do, impulsive actions have never really been my thing. On the other hand I do know how this state can become paralysing, how anxiety feeds off and into it; how not being able to make your mind up over objectively trivial decisions can pretty much ruin your life, not to mention the lives of those around you.
Some infuriating person, possibly your partner, your parent, your friend, might ask you – well, what do you want to do? If I knew the answer to that, you think, say, shout, I wouldn’t be in this state.
But actually, that is a very good question. It’s finding out how to answer it that sometimes needs a little extra help and a different sort of conversation and brainspace than the every day offers.
What I might do with a client is invite them to settle into option one. How do they feel when that proposition is considered – I mean, really feel? What is going on in their body, where is it landing, what are they noticing, what emotion (and I mean real emotion as opposed to a thought or an opinion) shows up with that experience? Then, after returning to the present, we will do it with another of the options, same process, same questions. I will reflect back what I’ve heard, neutrally, without commentary, analysis or judgement, simply this is what I heard, paying attention to tone and choice of language. By then the work is usually done. The client has been able to tap into their instinct and intuition and that’s where the right answer always lies.
List of pros and cons don’t work because they’re too head-based and rational. Heads are useful but not much good on their own. Head and heart, thinking and feeling is how we’re designed, and the only way you’ll get anywhere in the end.