I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s a complete waste of time and energy to spend a moment second-guessing yourself. Yet, many of us continue to second guess both small and big decisions.
Last night, at my weekly talk for Lake Austin Spa Resort guests, I was reminded of the powerful pull the habit of second-guessing has. I witnessed a guest experiencing an Aha! Moment of clarity about an important personal issue, only to watch her immediately start to second-guess the knowing – - the Aha! – - that arose from an exercise she did to tap into her intuition.
Sharon (not her real name) acknowledged that she often does this — begins an inner tug-of-war with all of her second-guessing. She experiences an intuitive hit or an even stronger Aha! Moment, but then immediately begins back-pedaling from the answer she received by allowing her mind to start throwing “yeah, buts” in her path.
My niece just experienced this too when she had to declare where she was attending college. After choosing Ohio State University, my sister said Mikaela awoke the next morning second-guessing her decision, taking all of the joy and peace out of an exciting decision.
I’ve tried telling myself and clients during these times to “trust yourself, let go of the worry, and know that you made the best decision,” but this advice ignores the power of the inner critic and all of the brainwashing most of us experienced that told us to value answers reached logically as being better than answers reached intuitively. And, it turns out we’re wired to have a logical, analytical left brain try to dominate the wisdom of the intuitive right brain.
So, I’ve found it’s infinitely better to make peace with this inner tug-of-war, with this second-guessing, by doing the following:
- Honor, state, and even write down (if you feel inspired to do so), the initial answer you received or made and how and why it felt so right, so that feeling — that knowing — doesn’t get lost in post-decision analysis.
- Acknowledge the “yeah, buts,” the mental chatter about needing to seek expert opinion, or to get some data to back up the decision. This is a part of you that desires to stay in charge (What were you thinking to bypass thinking in order to reach a decision???) or rears up to keep you safely living and working in the status quo. So, acknowledge the thoughts and thank them for showing up.
- Schedule an appointment with yourself to give voice to and “hear out” what second-guessing mind wants to tell you. Literally put this appointment on a calendar. When the voices in your head start to challenge your decision, remind yourself that you’ve got an appointment to hear them out and move on. Depending upon how quickly you must take serious action on your decision, that appointment might be later in the day, the next day, or some time during the next week.
- Begin to take small steps that reinforce and start the forward progress called for from your original decision. Nothing too big or too dramatic. Just steps that help you get more comfortable with your decision (or make you aware of any real discomfort with moving forward).
- At the appointed time, write down all of the worries, concerns, and challenges connected with the original decision. Get them out of your head and on to paper. Breathe.
- Having given your inner critic or dissenting voice a chance to speak, connect with your heart (your connection to the wisdom of your soul or Higher Self) and ask yourself if any of these concerns are worth over-turning your decision or perhaps amending the decision.
- Take action on whatever clarity you gained from this last check in with your heart.
- Repeat this process as often as necessary in order to confidently move forward.
By honoring the gifts and wisdom of all parts of yourself, you bring blessed inner peace to your decisions, increase your confidence in taking the necessary inspired action resulting from these decisions, and maximize your effectiveness because you’re no longer at war with yourself. It also becomes safe to really listen to your intuition because you know you’ll be engaging — not abandoning — your logical left brain before acting upon your intuitive hits.
Some don’t need this. They decide, whether via intuition or logic, and move on. Some of us do. Make peace with how you’re wired and reap the benefits of your second-guessing whenever it occurs. Aha!