Making Decisions Ahead of Time

Zelda Okia, MDUncategorizedLeave a Comment

How many of you have made a decision and acted upon it, only to have your mind confront you about it later. You begin to question yourself, doubt the decision, and wonder if it was the right thing to do.

This happened to me a few weeks ago. I took about five pairs of pants to a new tailor and asked her if she could alter them to fit my new size. I have gone from a size 14 to size 10. The tailor looked at the pants and decided it was not worth it to try to alter them so much. They would never look right. 

She told me to go and buy some new pants. So I took the pants to Goodwill and actually felt a sense of relief, because I knew I wanted to clear them from my closet. But this initial feeling of euphoria and lightness at getting rid of the pants soon passed.

As I stood gazing at the small clearing in my closet, another feeling soon overwhelmed me. Doubt. What if I had made a mistake? What if that particular tailor could not fix the pants, but there was another tailor who could? What if I did not need to give those pants away? 

Isn’t it funny how we can use up so much precious time and energy brooding over such small matters? If I can expend so much emotional and mental energy on a pair of old pants; imagine how much time I can rack up on the bigger things. And think about the amount of time I would spend looking for a particular tailor who could alter those pants. Might it just be easier to go out and buy a new pair?

These little stressors that can take up so much mental and emotional energy are called tolerations. They are little things that seem so trivial, yet take their toll in countless ways.  We tolerate a cluttered closet, a dirty car, a messy desk, an unorganized work space. It probably would not take much time to clean them up, throw stuff away, or put things in order; yet we never seem to get around to doing it.

But over time, these tolerations cost us. These tiny frustrations add to the stress that we already carry. They are a constant reminder of what needs to get done. One way to combat tolerations is to use a technique called making decisions ahead of time. We use our brain, our prefrontal cortex, to make a decision to do something. We plan when it will get done and how we will do it.

The funny thing is that when the time comes to do the thing we decided ahead of time, we probably won’t feel like doing it. There will be other things that grab our attention. Or the emotional (limbic) part of our brain begins to worry and complain about how wasteful it is to throw out a perfectly good pair of pants. 

At these moments, we do not need to argue with ourselves. We can simply and calmly say: “Yes. I hear you. But I am going to do it anyway.” As we honor our decisions ahead of time, we learn to trust and respect ourselves.

As we learn to use our prefrontal cortex to calm and override those primitive, habitual emotions that no longer serve us, we reach a level of maturity called “emotional adulthood.” Working through and eliminating tolerations is one of the many areas of life that you can delve into while working with a coach. If you would like to take the challenge, bust through, and eliminate tolerations in your life, feel free to private message or email me to discuss this further.

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