There are times when we can’t make our minds up. Faced with a tough decision, we are torn by the options available.
Should I do this? Or should I do that?
We spend hours spinning round the options and getting nowhere.
We hear competing voices and arguments. It’s like we have several people inside us, jabbering away. It can feel like we are going crazy.
But we’re not. It’s perfectly normal.
The idea that we are one self doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
We’ve all experienced moments when it seems like we are debating ourselves.
Watch any TV quiz show. They deliberately set up situations that bring forth multiple selves.
“Do you want to take home what you’ve won – or do you want to gamble?”
Sit back and watch the person split into two.
“Part of me wants to play it safe, but part of me says go for it!” they ponder.
Accepting that we have many personalities is helpful.
When we can’t make our mind up, several parts of us have shown up. They are in a tug of war that nobody is winning.
Acknowledging this is powerful. It means we can make space for whatever parts have emerged within us.
Couples therapists and family therapists are used to this task. They work with many people at once.
A key part of their job is to direct the traffic of conversation. Five family members in a room all talking at once is not useful.
Likewise with a couple. Two people yelling over each other isn’t productive. Nobody gets heard. So the issue is not solved.
When you’re stuck with a decision, your job is the same. You have more than one voice jabbering at once in your head.
Before you can decide, you first have to direct the conversational traffic.
Couples therapists do this by ensuring one person at a time can talk. They direct the other person to stay silent, knowing their turn will come.
Then they listen to what is said.
In the same way, try quieting the voices in your head so you listen to one at a time.
I like to think of it as giving one part the microphone. I image it on a stage with a spotlight. There are no distractions. No other voices.
I get curious and listen to what it has to say. I hear what it wants and what it fears.
When it is through speaking, the next part of me gets the stage.
This exercise brings up insights I didn’t know I had.
I gain understanding about what I want – and what I’m scared of – that I wasn’t aware of until I made space to listen.
I learn what needs each part is seeking to meet.
As a result, I now have clarity.
My fears, worries and desires are out there on the table.
Even if the decision is still a tough one, I notice that my wisest self has been listening well.
There is something within me that pulls me towards a particular choice. I know what I must do.
Sometimes, I even develop a brand new option. One that meets the needs of all parts.
If one part wants connection and the other wants rest, I see new options that meet both needs.
I’m no longer stuck between going to the party or staying in alone. I can invite a friend round to watch a movie instead.
If we feel indecisive, it means that two or more parts of us have stepped into the room. They each have something valuable to tell us. Give them some space, and listen.