Decision Making vs Wishful Thinking

February 2nd, 2012 § 1 comment

We’re all faced with great possibilities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations” — author unknown.

Decision-making is an art, and like most things in life, the more you do it the better you become at doing it effectively. Increasing the number of decisions you make also increases the risk of making a wrong decision occasionally. Nevertheless, it is clear that those who make decisions on a regular basis are those who find more success in life, due to the fact that they take more risk, make more decisions, and thereby provide more opportunities for success.

At Intuitive Hypnosis, some of the most frequently asked questions from clients are, “Will this work for me? Why does hypnosis help some people and not others? What can I do to ensure success in reaching my goals?”

After years of working with clients on a variety of issues, it is clear to me that clients who have made the decision to create change in their lives have a higher rate of success than those who remain in a wishful thinking state of mind. Hypnosis is not magic. Hypnosis is a tool, a resource, a way to help you achieve your goals once you have made up your mind that you are ready for change.

The definition of DECIDE: To arrive at a solution that ends uncertainty or dispute. From Latin decidere which means to cut off. (“Decision making process,” 2012)

1. Decide, resolve, determine, imply settling upon a purpose and being able to adhere to it. To decide is to make up one’s mind as to what shall be done and the way to do it: He decided to go today. To resolve is to show firmness of purpose: He resolved to ask for a promotion. To determine is to make up one’s mind and then to stick to a fixed or settled purpose: determined to maintain his position at all costs. (“Decision making process,” 2012)

Imagine the difference in the rate of success in the following two examples of clients both wanting to lose weight:

Client “A” has made up her mind that she is ready to lose weight. She informs me that she has become a member at the local gym, has consulted a nutritionist about creating an eating plan that fits in with her family and work schedule. She has purged her cupboards of all junk food and would like to know if hypnosis can help her stay focused, motivated, and on track. Her family supports her efforts at becoming healthy and fit. This client has decided to lose weight and is willing to change her eating routines and rituals in order to achieve her goal of losing weight. This client has a strong chance of success.

Client “B” would love to lose weight. She is tired of being so heavy and just knows that if she could lose weight things would go better for her at work, at home, and socially. However, she is unable to accommodate time in her busy schedule to exercise daily, and insists that she does not over eat. In fact, she eats nothing all day until dinner, and then she eats continually until bedtime each night. She hates eating in the morning and is not willing to adhere to the recommendation of three meals and two snacks each day. She wants to know if hypnosis can make her want to exercise and eat right. She will “try” to eat some vegetables during the day, if she can remember to do so, but she is just so busy. This client lives in the “wishful thinking” state of mind and has a slim chance of success. No pun intended.

One of the most important assessments I make with each client is to determine where they are on the decision scale. It is possible to help a client move from the wishful thinking state to the decision making state if they are willing to change their self defeating behaviors and beliefs. If they exhibit a strong balance of resistance about changing their behavior, then I do not recommend hypnosis for them at this time.

As that old saying so aptly states, “If you keep doing what you’ve always done… you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got!”

I love that saying because it truly hits the nail right on its proverbial head. You simply cannot create a new and different life if you keep living the same old repetitive one.

Let’s take a look at decision-making. What’s it all about, and how can YOU learn to increase the likelihood of making successful decisions?

Decision-making is a distinctly human activity; it is what our great big frontal lobe is for. We all make decisions all the time, but because many of them are simple repetitions day after day, we do not regard them as decisions.

However, the fact that we are hard-wired to make decisions does not necessarily make us good decision-makers. To improve our decision-making skills and increase the likelihood of making smart decisions, it can be helpful to incorporate the following 4 steps into our decision making routine.

  1. Realize when and why we need to make a decision.
  2. State the decision: decide what the decision is, how will we work it, and who will be involved.
  3. Work the decision: generate a complete set of alternatives, gather the information you need to understand the possibilities and probabilities, identify the resources you need, and ultimately make a choice that best fits your values.
  4. Commit resources and then act.

This sounds easy, and for those who make many decisions and are comfortable making decisions, it probably describes exactly what they do. For those who struggle with decision-making, they more than likely are experiencing the fear of failure or regret if a wrong decision is made. This can be crippling. This fear can stem from previous experiences that have created a conditioned response linking decision making to negative consequences.

This is an excellent example of a situation where hypnosis can help. Using hypnosis, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques, and/or EFT (emotional freedom techniques), it is possible to re-condition your subconscious mind and free yourself from the fear of failure about decision-making.

Decision Quality
is an excellent resource for learning more about making decisions and how to create change in your life. A synopsis of their manifesto follows (“Our Manifesto,” 2012):

  1. Decisions come from the stories we tell ourselves and others.
  2. Decisions aren’t found under a rock.
  3. Intentions are not decisions.
  4. Divide and conquer.
  5. Process matters.
  6. Make your process transparent.
  7. No fictitious involvement.
  8. Build commitment step by step.
  9. The first problem is seldom the real problem.
  10. Beware of solutions masquerading as problems.
  11. Be hard on the problem, not the people.
  12. Talk to somebody new.
  13. Raise conflict early.
  14. Focus your attention on what matters most.
  15. You need at least three alternatives to make a decision.
  16. Hit the guardrails.
  17. It’s not what you know. It’s what you don’t know you don’t know.
  18. There are no clairvoyants, but you can still ask.
  19. It’s easier to be critical than creative.
  20. Sometimes numbers can be used to tell a story.
  21. Take personal responsibility.
  22. Experiments are failures we learn from.

For some, decision-making can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. Since we make several decisions every day, we tend to forget that we really can make good decisions, and do it all the time. We decide what to get at the store, what to eat, what coat to wear, and so much more.

Decision-making occurs on many levels. Let’s look at it from a learning point of view and how hypnosis can help.

Experts in learning theory tell us that the average person must do something about 130 times before it becomes “natural.” Once it becomes natural, it is because we have generated a customized internal road map of how it is to be done. The map is generated through our experiences: through our feelings, recognized space requirements, visual clues and so on. If these experiences have been negative, and are attached to unwanted outcomes, we may have learned to be fearful of decision-making. Hypnosis can help by re-framing those experiences and creating a positive conditioned response to decision making.

As humans, we also have other limitations, which may cause us to take shortcuts when making decisions. For example, most people can keep only four items at the front of their mind when making comparisons; few can keep as many as seven in active consideration. Yet, even the simplest decision may have more than 100 components related to its success. As a result, we usually use our customized “natural” road maps to allow us to make shortcut decisions and keep functioning. If those road maps are accurate, we’re in good shape. If they are flawed or influenced by negative experiences from the past, we may learn to avoid making decisions at all costs. Hypnosis can help us identify those roadblocks and increase our comfort and ability to make appropriate decisions.

We all have individual needs, desires, preferences, and experiences. Over time, we learn and accumulate experiences and perspectives. We create a customized window by which we view the world, which becomes our personal map of life. This personal window creates biases that influence how we think and behave. Without realizing it, when things don’t fit, we tend to make them fit that personal window. It is from this point of view that we make decisions. Hypnosis can help us fine-tune our map, our perspectives, so that our decisions empower us, and lead to viewing decision making as an opportunity, and not a threat.

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