Monday, March 11, 2019


By Mary Kennedy                                             

What do you do when you have an important decision to make? When a major life choice looms ahead of you?  I've noticed Lori Grenier from Shark Tank often says, "What does your gut tell you?"

This the traditional advice and most people would approve of it. They believe it trusting their gut to lead them down the right path and not make a mistake. (and maybe you feel this way, I don't know!)

It's not easy making choices and people are resistant to change. It unsettles them, makes them feel nervous and insecure. Whether small or large, a decision can definitely be a stressor. The thought of making the wrong decision can make us literally paralyzed with doubt and fear. And a big dose of anxiety

But going back to the "trust your gut" philosophy, did you know that a recent study shows that people do better when they take a more rational approach to decision-making and leave emotion out of it?  How can this be, you wonder! It flies in the face of conventional wisdom. And could you do it? Here's how it works.

. When you come across a novel situation, your brain begins to analyze it, but emotions also creep in.  And memory creeps in. So when the brain recognizes a "familiar" situation, it immediately searches  memory banks for similar scenarios. 

And here's where your emotions may play tricks on you. Your recall of a past situation may not be as complete as you think, and the memory may be partial. So if your emotions bring up a small negative connotation to the past situation, you might be ready to throw out the present situation without properly examining it. You might think, "I've been down this road before and it didn't bode well!"

Throwing out the baby with the bath water, to coin a cliche!! And no one wants to do that.

The secret? It's okay to recall past situations but make sure your emotions aren't outweighing your rationality and common sense.

And if you're wondering how the flip of a coin comes into decision making, it's how my best friend always makes her decisions. She simply flips a coin. Heads she says yes, tails she says no to an opportunity.

Why does this work? Because it doesn't matter which way the coin lands. What depends is your reaction to the result. Are you happy or sad? Did you wish the coin toss had gone the other way? It really focuses your thinking. Try this the next time you have a decision to make and see if it works for you!

By Mary Kennedy


Diane said...

I remember one time when I didn't know what dress to wear to a wedding. I showed my friend both of them and she said wear the dark blue one. Then I knew I wanted to wear the lavender one and wore that one. So often I have asked someone what to do and then did the opposite.

Dr. Mary Kennedy said...

Diane, that's so interesting! A lot of my clients tell me they do the same thing, thanks for stopping by!