Connecting With Emotions In Decision Making
Knowing when to make a big change in your life - leaping - doesn't come with an instruction manual. Most of us are groping in the dark, swimming in a mixture of emotions - from the misery that may trigger the thought of escape from a bad situation, to the excitement that comes with the spark of an idea, to the feeling of quasi-terror when we imagine all the things that could go wrong if we leave the comfort of what we know and venture forth onto a new path.
When we are in doubt or feeling lost, we seek anchors: a path, a formula, a strategy and tactics to go with it. However, there is no official process or manual for knowing when you are ready to make a life-changing move.
Yet, we seek a foothold so that, as we go through the necessary emotional and mental turmoil, we can stand up straight and take our first steps towards evolution, change, and fulfillment. Towards our freedoms, dreams, and desires. It is completely unique to everyone. And it changes each time we go through the process. Because we go through it many, many times in our lives.
I go through a process each time I make a big decision or choice that leads me on a new path. It is partly emotional, intuitive and intellectual. It is partly planning, rationalizing, and imagining. And it is entirely driven by a relentless need to be a better person, to live a better life, and to make life better for others.
Starting this platform is another one of my ‘leaps’; another big decision and life change. I’m putting myself - a very intimate part of myself - out into the world. I’m not 100% sure where this will end up. But, as anything I’ve done before, I’m going for it. I’m leaping!
WHEN IT DAWNED ON ME
I began the Real Wealth, Real Health platform after deep reflection during a time in my life when I was exhausted, had lost confidence in myself, and felt worthless and lost. At the same time as I was processing these feelings, emotions, and thoughts, I still had obligations like a mortgage, a house under construction, and a career as a financial technology executive that hung in the balance.
Let me be clear. I am not a quitter and I don’t spend a lot of time wallowing in self-pity, but these emotional and mental cycles are part of life. They are actually a necessary part of the process of change - and transformation.
There I was - again - at the edge of the cliff. I left a situation that was no longer right for me. I left a company that I launched into a successful industry leader after joining the founders as the first executive and employee. For three years we went through intense ups and downs including raising venture capital, growing sales by triple digit percentages, a layoff that killed our spirits and the company culture, near-bankruptcy, and a management change that ultimately led me to open the door and let myself out.
I was unhappy and I was not evolving. So I made a decision to leave. I left the misery, the daily turmoil, the negative energy, and the emotional vampires that were sucking the life right out of me. Does this sound familiar?
It did to me. In the months leading up to the breaking point, it dawned on me that had been through a similar cycle - for different reasons - many times before.
SENSING AND FEELING CHANGE
Preceding any major change is a feeling. It can be a hit of intuition, an external stigma, or an internal sensation. Each of these has an effect on the body and mind. The body will ‘feel’. An emotion will arise. A thought will form. For most people, most of our lives, this all happens without our conscious knowledge. We have no clue that major change is afoot - that we are picking up on ‘something’ that is part of our life’s path. Our fate.
The thing about ‘fate’ is that we do have some say in it. We are receiving signals all the time. We are making decisions - consciously or unconsciously - about what to do with them. We are choosing. We have a choice. Always. Even a decision to not follow a new path is a choice. Inaction is a choice. Every decision and every choice results in a consequence. Neither is good or bad. Both ‘are’ what they are. And they will unfold in their own way. All the while, whether we like this or not - we have a choice in the matter. And if we work on it hard enough, we can become more aware of the process. We can even understand the signals and bring them up to conscious awareness so that our rational minds can help out with the decision making.
Ultimately, however, if the heart is not involved, decisions will not feel ‘right'. We can numb out our feelings, our intuition and our heart. We can ignore or suppress emotions. But only for so long. Like any repressed piece of ourselves, the heart will come back and try to fight for its rightful place in our minds and in our lives.
CONNECTING WITH EMOTIONS
Feeling is different from emotion. I think of a feeling as a sensation. Feelings can help to identify underlying emotions that are rising up inside you and manifesting as actions, thoughts, and behaviors. Without awareness of this concept, we can feel like we are being pushed around by invisible forces or that we have no control over ourselves.
With every major life decision, there are a consistent set of feelings for me: restlessness, anxiety, and inner turmoil. Depending on the reason for the decision I need to make, there are underlying emotions that include: unhappiness, sadness, rage, hope, excitement, and optimism. There are, of course, many emotions that arise. Sometimes they conflict. Sometimes they confuse. However, by taking the necessary time and awareness to reflect on them and accept them, they always brings clarity.
These emotions are the signals. They are the first and most important step in the process.
The foundation of the process is in the emotions, whether we are aware of them or not. Identifying the emotions, feeling them through and through, accepting and working with them is the key to being more in control of the decision. If we cannot identify the emotions, they could overpower our rational thinking and lead to choices we may regret, rather than choices that empower us.
I’ve spent years working on identifying, rather than suppressing or ignoring, my emotions. It isn't easy to do; identifying emotions brings us face-to-face with parts of ourselves that we would rather not look at. Shadows that we have worked really hard to keep in the dark.
Emotions are not just the messengers. They contain the questions and the answers. Feeling the sensations, becoming aware of what you are feeling, and identifying and connecting with emotions is the first step in the process of making a life-changing decision. The second step, working with intuition, leads to the third step - our ability to work with the intellect to plan the leap, and the landing.