June 20, 2024

The Struggle to Make Balanced Decisions

Author: Allison Whitmore

Every day, we’re faced with a myriad of decisions, from the trivial to the critical. Yet, the process of making these decisions is often met with difficulty. Our emotions can cloud our judgment, leading us to react impulsively or overthink every detail. This struggle to balance emotional and rational thinking can leave us feeling stuck and overwhelmed.

Imagine this: you’re at work, facing a significant decision. Your emotions scream at you to take immediate action out of fear or frustration, while your rational mind hesitates, endlessly calculating the risks. This internal struggle doesn’t just slow you down—it can lead to decisions you might regret later on. The constant battle between your emotional impulses and rational thoughts increases your anxiety, erodes your confidence, and affects your productivity. Over time, this indecision and regret can strain your relationships and hinder your personal and professional growth.

 Develop Willingness to Engage with Your Experiences and Step into Wise Mind

The key to overcoming this challenge lies in cultivating an attitude of “willingness” to help access your “Wise Mind.” Here’s how you can do it:

 Embrace Willingness.

Willingness is about engaging openly in your experiences, without resistance. It allows you to approach situations with a balanced perspective, reducing reactivity and promoting thoughtful action. There are 3 core concepts from DBT that help with this:

1. **Mindfulness Meditation**

   – A Mindfulness practice, whether it be long or short, helps train your mind to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. One way to practice this is to take a deep breath after every thought or two, and especially take a deep breath before taking action. 

2. **Non-Judgmental Observation**

– Developing a Nonjudgmental attitude throughout your day helps you respond instead of react to the situation. When we react, we judge the present moment based off of what’s happened in the past. Through Wise Mind, we see the situation for what it is in the present moment and respond calmly and clearly. 

3. **Radical Acceptance**

– We can create more emotional pain and suffering when we resist reality, especially when facing a challenging situation. Radical acceptance is responding to the present moment without resisting or wishing things to be a certain way, and acknowledging “this is the way it is right now”.

Access Your Wise Mind

Wise Mind integrates emotional and rational thinking, helping you make decisions that are both thoughtful and heartfelt. Below are 3 ways to access Wise Mind:

1. **Check the Facts**

   – When intense emotions arise, pause and ask yourself, “What are the facts?”. Separating objective facts from your emotional reactions grounds your response in reality, rather than being driven solely by emotions.

2. **Pros and Cons Analysis**

   – For important decisions, create a pros and cons list for each option. Consider both short-term and long-term consequences and how each choice aligns with your values. This integrates emotional and rational aspects of decision-making.

3. **Mindful Breathing**

   – When overwhelmed, take a few minutes to focus on your breath. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat until you feel calm. This calms your nervous system, making it easier to access your Wise Mind.

By developing willingness and consistently accessing your Wise Mind, you can make more balanced decisions. This practice not only enhances your personal and professional life but also leads to more effective and harmonious interactions. Start today, and embrace the journey towards a more mindful and balanced existence.

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