117 – How to Make Difficult Decisions

How to Make Difficult Decisions

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How to Make Difficult Decisions
How to make difficult decisions
Mindfulness Online Training
Mindfulness Online Training
How to make difficult decisions
How to make difficult decisions

How to make difficult decisions

We have more choice in life than we might think – including the option to decide what we’re doing in any given moment. It’s so easy to loop around the same activities and make the same decisions based purely on our past conditioning or egoic desires. When instead, we can check-in and ask ourselves the question “is this really the right thing to do?”

This can apply to small decisions like what clothes we wear and whether we should busy ourselves or rest. And it also applies to bigger more complex decisions in areas like careers and relationships.

Sometimes, the decisions we need to make are straightforward, but in other situations it can seem quite difficult to decide what to do. There may be a multitude of options and no clear way forward. To help us do the right thing, I’d like to present a list I’ve produced called ‘5 Ways to Approach Difficult Decisions’…

Approach #1 – Refer to Spiritual Lists

Lists that guide ethics and actions are really helpful to keep us on the right path spiritually. We find them in most religions and philosophies. Examples include the Buddhist precepts, the Ten Commandments in the Quran and the Ten Commandments in the Bible. In my book Living a Life of Harmony I produced my own list of guidelines which synthesised some of the more traditional lists – here it is:

  • Honor the body
  • Be present, bringing awareness and acceptance into every moment
  • Act with kindness, considering everyone and everything
  • Understand the truth, communicating it selectively and skillfully
  • Do only what needs to be done
  • Harmoniously obtain and retain only what you need
  • Apply these guidelines to your digital device usage

Contemplating the guidance in a list like this may be enough to guide you ethically to the right answer. Or it may be a good idea to…

Approach #2 – Investigate the options

If you’ve already identified a series of options for your decision, a simple approach is to investigate each of them in more detail. Looking at the effort involved and the likely impact on yourself and others. Past experience is a valuable source of information that may help predict outcomes. And it can prove beneficial to talk through things with wise and kind friends who have a genuine interest in what we’re doing.

Approach #3 – Defer the decision

Many decisions don’t need to be made right away – they can wait. Sometimes, when we defer a decision, our conditions change later and then it becomes clear what we need to do. Sometimes, it may be that we need to wait seconds, minutes, hours, days, months or years before deciding what to do in a particular situation.

Deferring a decision is skilful when it’s done consciously. But we do need to watch out for deferral’s near enemy – procrastination. We may be avoiding a decision relating to something we really need to get on with, but we don’t want to do! Procrastination can be associated with conditions like depression and low self-esteem. It’s worth keeping this in mind and being kind to ourselves.

Approach #4 – Trial different scenarios

In some instances, we may have the opportunity to make a decision, and then see how things go for a while. Generally speaking, if we’re doing what’s skilful or needed, we’ll experience a sense of peace or even enjoyment. If we’re being unskilful and taking the wrong path we’ll often experience inner resistance that manifests in the form of unpleasant feelings in the body and stress.

Approach #5 – Request direction from the divine

In my opinion, this is the most powerful and reliable option for decision making. We turn to the divine, our higher self, God, or whatever label we wish to use for that which transcends us. We offer up our situation and request guidance on what we need to do. This is the most spiritual of the five approaches and relies on a belief that there’s a higher intelligence that wishes to guide us lovingly to make the right decision.

People request this divine direction in different ways. One person might pray; verbally asking for a sign or an answer. Another person might contemplate the question whilst being out in nature in the hope that nature opens up a gateway to provide the answer.

Whatever method is used, there are two important things to keep in mind. Firstly, we may not receive an answer when we want it. Sometimes, we feel things need to be answered or resolved there and then, when actually the solution comes later (this relates to approach 3). The true answer will always be presented to us at a time determined by the divine source which is providing it. Secondly, we may not receive the answer we desire! That’s always uncomfortable for the ego. The ego might believe that we should be going in a certain direction and we’re being divinely guided some other way – and this creates a tension.

If we’re truly connected to spirit then whatever response is returned to us needs to be honoured and followed. It’s quite a responsibility knowing what we need to be doing and acting in the best interests of the whole.


So, in summary here are the five ways to approach difficult decisions:

  1. Refer to spiritual lists
  2. Investigate the options
  3. Defer the decision
  4. Trial different scenarios
  5. Request direction from the divine

I hope you find these various approaches useful in guiding you to make skilful decisions. It’s worth noting that we may use a number of these approaches in relation to the same decision. For example, we might refer to spiritual lists, defer the decision, and then later we request direction from the divine. Wishing you skilful decisions and positive outcomes!

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