Why We Make Bad Choices (And How To Stop)
We are all faced with challenges that require decision-making. How we meet our challenges though, makes all the difference in the image of success or failure.
When we obsess over an outcome we create illusory stress, what most of us think of as "worrying about" something. An accurate description of worry would be using the mind to create a negative outcome which we do not desire, and yet which takes over our minds. Things then tend to go wrong when we begin with the limited idea that there is either a right or wrong choice for us to make. This type of duality thrives in a state of worry and stress, where problems exist with the worst possible outcomes.
This is the level of contracted awareness, or the level of the reactive mind. All "bad" decisions are nothing more than those made from a place of contracted awareness. This type of thinking leaves us victim to the reactive mind. Human emotions like fear, worry and hopelessness end up becoming the driving force of our choices.
For a moment, let's look at how the following situations of contracted awareness lead to bad choices:
- You expect the worst: Here we focus only on the negative outcomes without giving attention to the possibility of an unexpected positive outcome.
- You act on impulse: We act quickly, without considering the ramifications of our actions.
- You cling to fear: The greater fear of failure or loss outweighs the likelihood of great reward.
- You play victim: False pride comes between higher thought and an empowering choice.
- You obsess over being in control: The need to be in control, which comes from a deeper feeling of being out of control, directs powerless choices.
- You ignore good advice: Ego or the identification with a false self-image limits us from receiving help from encouraging input.
- You overlook your hidden intentions: A deeper intention of wanting to fail keeps us from having to take to take full responsibility.
It's easy to observe that existing in a state of contracted awareness leads to thinking about choices in black and white. This limiting perspective keeps us from empowering ourselves to recognize the unlimited possibilities the universe has to offer.
To get to the point where we can make good, nourishing decisions for ourselves, we must expand our awareness. No one is going to argue that life doesn't bring difficult situations. But these difficult situations expand our awareness, helping us to learn and grow.
We must look inward and explore our emotional life — the inner-workings behind our decisions. Rather than reducing every decision to a rational calculation, which only shuts out the very things that go into a good decision, it's important we understand each decision we make in life triggers particular emotions in us. We must honor them. But how? That's where awareness comes in.
Here are a few ways we can step into a purer field of awareness in order to make more productive decisions...
1. Examine your state of awareness.
Before you can make a change you first must be able to see how your thoughts are limiting you, and causing problems. When someone is truly self-aware they can tell you how they are feeling, what assumptions they're making, what expectations they have, and how their core beliefs are being affected. Knowing these elements takes honesty.
When we face our own fears with honesty, we find our greatest genius. By getting to know what you're feeling, what assumptions you have, what you expect and what are your core beliefs you are increasing self-awareness. The more honest you are with yourself the more your self-created illusions will collapse, giving you the ability to make choices with clarity.
2. Reach for the level of the solution.
Pause to consider a course of action that begins with finding a fix. The solution to any problem does not lie at the level of the problem. Most of us stay suck at a field of contracted awareness were we see only the negative. Staying at this level awareness only makes us struggle. We make decisions out of fear, anxiety and frustration, and our energy depletes. By expanding our perspective, we are able to see other things, and often a solution appears somewhere in the composition.
3. Find the ambiguity of each scenario.
Rather than thinking in terms of bad and good when making decision, try to see a more balanced view by embracing the uncertainty of every situation. Sit with the uncertainty. Relish it.
Likewise, a seemingly negative situation can become the catalyst to the best moments of our lives. Consider a "bad" decision you've made in the past; what are a few positives that came from that choice? Also, how have your good decisions created negative outcomes? This exercise broadens our awareness to the level of pure consciousness; where no problem exist, and field of infinite possibilities does.
If we embrace life and ourselves with total awareness, decisions can turn out to be win-win, always. Either the right decision is made, or something goes wrong, and we learn from mistakes — expanding our awareness regardless. After all, the only bad decision is a decision we don't grow from.