Heart, You

Decisions, Decisions

At some point in life, we are sure to be met with a roadblock.  It could be anything: a corporate layoff, an illness, a divorce, a fire or a natural disaster.  Something that happens to you or someone you love, and it stops you in your tracks.  Something that you weren’t prepared for that forces you to move in a new and different direction.  Your carefully laid plans go out the window.

A roadblock doesn’t have to be a dead end, usually a detour ensues.  Sometimes the ‘forces that be’ will map out an alternative route to help you head in the right direction.  Sometimes you just pave your own way.  But you must decide what to do next.

These are what I call “macro decisions”.  They are larger and more life-changing.  They don’t necessarily have to be brought on by some tragedy, but those are the ones that will blindside you.  Of course, there are many macro decisions made voluntary as well: getting married, having kids, changing careers or moving to a new state.

A big one for me was when my mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.  I was living in Los Angeles, pursuing a career in acting, my dream at the time.  My decision was to move home to be her primary caregiver.  I was with her 24/7 for over two years, until the time came where it was no longer safe to care for her at home.  As hard as it was, it was a blessing to have the opportunity to be there for her.  It was also a choice that changed the trajectory of my life forever.

Then there are “micro decisions”.  These are the decisions that you make on a day to day basis.  Sometimes they may seem trivial…the blue shirt or the green sweater?  Chocolate or vanilla?  Romantic comedy or drama?  Scenic route or the freeway?  For the most part, these are harmless, but some of these micro decisions can lead to bad habits…a glass or the bottle, one slice or the whole pie, go to the gym or stay home and watch tv…these are all choices.

But the truth is, we are making decisions in every moment of our lives.  Most of the time, we are choosing the same things: the same thoughts, the same emotions, the same behaviors.  We are creatures of habit and often on autopilot.  We are built that way to be efficient.

If I were a neuroscientist, I would explain how the neurons in your brain communicate to each other by releasing chemical messengers that send information back and forth between other neurons, creating neural pathways.  The more you think a thought or perform a task, the stronger these pathways become…like they say, neurons that fire together, wire together.  (But I’m not a neuroscientist, so hopefully you get the gist!)

We are always making a choice, whether we realize it or not.  Even to NOT make a decision, and stick with the status quo, is basically making a choice to choose the same thing again.  Perhaps when we first made that decision, it felt right.  Day after day, we continue to make the same choice.  When do we choose to make a new choice?

If things are working out for you, great!  It’s when our choices are causing us suffering that we need to pause.  We need to pull the car over, get out our GPS and recalculate our route.

Whether it is a macro or a micro decision, the real choice is to move towards love.  This is what I call a “nano decision”.  It should be the underlying motivator of all your choices, big or small.  A tarot card reader once suggested that I ask myself this one question, “Does this bring me peace?”  I thought that was great advice.  Does this choice point me towards love or is it a highway to hell (fear, anger, sadness, despair).

Challenge for the week:  What decisions do you need to make in your life?

When you are in discomfort, the best thing to do is to stop and take some deep belly breaths.  Check in with your body and notice how you are feeling.  All your answers live inside of you.

While the highest density of neurons are located in the brain, there are neurons throughout the body.  In fact, the heart has a cluster of 40,000 neurons.  In 1991, Dr. J. Andrew Armour introduced the idea that there is a “little brain” in the heart that can sense, feel, learn and remember independently of the brain.  Hence, the notions to “listen to your heart” and “follow your heart” are not just mere musings.

There are also millions of neurons in the gastrointestinal tract, warranting it’s name “second brain”.  Though it’s not known to “think”, as the heart brain does, it is highly specialized to “feel” as it aids in the digestive process.  It’s been discovered that a lot of our emotional information originates here and is transmitted to the brain.  When things aren’t right, you can “feel it in your gut”, so don’t be so quick to dismiss your “gut instincts”!

For the most part, we are brought up to depend on the wisdom of the brain.  We learn to think things through and rationalize.  Not that it’s a bad thing, but there should be a meeting of the minds…ALL of the minds in our bodies!

So, next time you need to make a decision, sit with it.  Ask your body.  The best answer will feel good.  It will feel like peace.

Have a peaceful week!

4 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions”

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