Have you ever wondered why you sometimes find it difficult to make a decision or how you become aware of your actions and emotions? A lot of us do, and it’s great to discover how personality traits like indecisiveness and self-awareness are linked to our brain.
In our recent 3-part podcast, The Brain Deep Dive (link to podcast), we had the pleasure of learning from neuroscientist and counselor, Dr. Diane Garner. She helped us get into the nitty-gritty of the brain and its role in decision-making and self-awareness. Here are some of the valuable takeaways from the podcast.
Decision-making is Cognitive, Decisions are Emotional
Making a decision relies on the communication between the different parts of the brain. The brain works to take on new information and analyze how it fits our current knowledge and past experiences. While this is a cognitive task, the decisions we make are emotional. The orbitofrontal cortex part of the brain is responsible for this. There is an emotional response to a certain situation or information.
Indecisiveness is usually a result of a negative emotion. We find it hard to make a decision because we’re afraid of making a mistake. There’s this fear of regretting making the wrong decision.
Our decision-making patterns can also be affected by the way we were raised or how our parents or the people around us motivated and encouraged us to make a decision. If your decisions when you were young were not validated or had negative consequences, then you lose confidence in your ability to make a decision. That may contribute to your indecisiveness as an adult.
Tips to Improve Decision-Making
Researching or gathering more information can help us make a decision. Let’s say your girl friends invited you to a day trip out of town. Although you’re up for an adventure with them, you can’t say ‘Yes’ right away. You wanted to make sure first that you can get back in time for another engagement in the evening. What you can do is check your trusty calendar and organizer app, ask your friends about the itinerary, and research online the travel time and predicted weather on that day. This shall help you decide if you’ll join them or not.
When you’re struggling with indecision, it’s also a good idea to make a list of pros and cons and give yourself a deadline. You can’t just analyze your list forever. Time is precious, and so weigh up your options and make a decision.
Self-awareness is a Superpower
We naturally have routines and behavioral scripts running automatically, without pause. We make a decision or take an action without consciously thinking about how it may affect us. But with self-awareness, we experience that moment of pause. It’s sort of like a superpower that allows us to check if those automatic scripts or responses are appropriate for the situation. In order to have that pause, we need to learn how to regulate emotions.
Ways to Build Self-Awareness
One of the keys to building self-awareness is creating a connection with your body. See how your body responds to a certain situation. Because we experience emotions in our body before they become thoughts, when we feel off or react in a negative way, our heart rate or respiration level usually increases. So when you notice those things in your body, you’ll have the chance to pause before you do a certain action or decision.
Mindfulness is another important and effective way to develop self-awareness. Focus on the present moment. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. No matter how busy you are, make sure your find time to practice mindfulness. It will help you become more aware of your emotions, thoughts, and body, and therefore be better at making decisions.
The brain does work in mysterious ways. But one thing we’ve learned and proven is that it plays an essential role in decision-making and self-awareness. Take note of the tips we’ve mentioned to improve your decision-making skills and develop self-awareness.
CheeHoo may come in handy whenever you’re feeling indecisive. It’s an organizer, practical assistant, and social app that you can use to list your pros and cons or gather more information so you can be sure that you’re going to make the right decision.
Catch our #SplashofColour Brain Deep Dive podcast with Dr. Diane Harner on Spotify and iTunes or click below to see it on YouTube.
Spend less time caught up in the clutter and more focusing on what is truly important.