Q:  It feels like there is so much available information when I am trying to make decisions, from deciding if I should move, to what doctor to see, to even which restaurant to go to! How can I know if I am making the right decisions?

A:  I think the availability of information nowadays on the internet can be very overwhelming. It is both a blessing and a curse! Not only are we bombarded with more information than we can handle, but also knowing which sources to trust and which to be wary of can be confusing.

Ultimately in many cases, while research is helpful, we also need to connect with our own gut feelings more. With life experience comes perspective and wisdom. We need to learn to trust in ourselves more and stress less about every detail.

Start with taking a deep breath on any decisions you need to make. Step back and take time to marinate on the next steps. Then do your research and do as much or as little as needed, depending on the size of the decision.

A move for example, is a big decision that warrants time and attention and plenty of research. But deciding which restaurant to go to does not have such high stakes, and you can take less time and attention on that decision. It is important to understand the difference so that you do not become paralyzed with indecision on even small choices.

For larger decisions, ask friends you trust and search online for information. Use trusted sources where the authors are reputable and the websites valid. If the answer is not clear, make a list of pros and cons using the information you gather.

Allow yourself to be open to all possibilities, and always go back to your own values. What is most important to you and your lifestyle? Think about your goals for your next steps and if this decision will help you towards that goal.

Once you settle on a decision, sit on it for a day and see how it feels in your gut. That is your intuition speaking to you. Without anyone else’s influence you will get a feel for your own thoughts by just sitting with the decision for a day. If it feels right, you will feel settled, and if it feels wrong your body will tell you.

While the “gut” is not infallible, there is a science behind it. In fact, scientists sometimes refer to the stomach as the “second brain.” There is a neural network of 100 million neurons lining your digestive tract. Your “gut,” or your intuition, is actually combining your initial reaction together with analytical thinking that assesses your memories and past learnings to provide you with a responsive feeling towards a decision.

Certainly, you do not want to dismiss the value of research and analyzing the situation fully. However, in this day and age of over information, we need to remind ourselves of the value of our own intuition. Learn to listen to and include your own gut reaction as a valuable piece of the decision-making puzzle. Most of the time we have the answers inside us (and our stomachs!) all along.


Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at mshapiro@seniorconcerns.org.


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