How to train your decision making gremlins!

When I tell people that I work with coaching and cognitive hypnotherapy clients around decision making, invariably they answer one of two things. ‘I’m terrible at doing that’ or ‘I’m a senior blah blah… clearly I don’t need help!’ as they proudly puff out their chest. However, if we talk more closely they will come to the conclusion that they do need coaching and / or therapy. We all do.

If asked, we often say we make decisions ‘from my gut’ and that’s brilliant if your gut instinct is working from a good place. However, if we look over the shoulder of intuition (and I work extremely intuitively so it’s hard for me to do!) our gut instinct is actually arrived at by our subconscious making a series of decisions itself to come to a point where it feels it has gathered enough evidence to label it as a feeling and hand it back to you. Hey presto! Based on that feeling, you make a decision. I’d like to say this has worked for me and I’ve led a faultless life, but unfortunately it hasn’t. I have made several poor decisions with far reaching results. Given that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback (a horribly cliche but true coaching phrase), or deferred success, I have worked hard to understand why. I can then help prevent myself and my coaching and cognitive hypnotherapy clients’ repeated failure. Decision making is a huge topic, so let’s scratch the surface here.   

Imagine your brain is a huge filing cabinet of memories and experiences. You present it with a decision, it rifles quickly through and looks for evidence from previous experience and learning that may help you reach a conclusion.  Your brain is filtering 2 million pieces of information (images, smells, language etc.) per second down to between 5-9 pieces that you will consciously see, so clearly it’s developed some clever short cuts to survive. Here’s an example of a coaching client of mine; a senior manager was asked to apply for promotion, however she felt unable to do so. On an evidence basis, she was an excellent fit for the role. So, why did she have a gut instinct that prevented her pursuing this opportunity?

Through our coaching and using cognitive hypnotherapy, she was able to work through the thoughts, assumptions and emotions and bring to a conscious level the evidence for her reluctance to accept the promotion. Using hypnotherapy she quickly, remembered that many years previously a colleague had made a comment along these lines, ‘I hate you, you are so organised!’ The brain often doesn’t hear caveats and she just heard ‘I hate you’. Given that this promotion was working with this colleague the brain had pulled this comment out, dusted it off and put it out as negative evidence. All of our behaviour at some level is trying to protect us. You see the problem? By using a subconscious selection of evidence that may or may not be relevant now, we end up making decisions based on a quick rifling and not on new and updated data. Dangerously, this then presents as our gut instinct and we often trust it without question. It is a huge benefit to us all to have a coaching / hypnotherapy clear out of our old files to make space for upgraded learning and for us to learn to self coach in the moment. 

If you want to make better decisions or have a mental spring clean to keep you on track, coaching and hypnotherapy offers a space to where the you can be enabled to find those lurking files you think you deleted, to help you weigh up what is relevant to you now, what new learnings you have gained and to empower you to make the decisions you need to make from a point of clarity and understanding. Filing cabinet gremlins can be trained!