November 18, 2023
How to Make Decisions
This journal shares the transcript of the conversation between Hollis and her assistant, Kimmy Anne Dunn, as they answer a question from the TDL Community: How Do I Make Decisions?

This journal shares the transcript of the conversation between Hollis and her assistant, Kimmy Anne Dunn, as they answer a question from the TDL Community: How Do I Make Decisions?

In their conversation they get in to the specifics of what the decision making process looks like, how to back decisions based on our value systems, why defining our values is important, and how to tap into the wisdom of the body. They’ll also address common challenges in decision-making, such as navigating the 'what ifs' that inevitably arise.eir conversation they explore the habit building process and the difference between linear and circular mindsets when building habits or practices. By clarifying our ‘why’, taking it slow, and finding resilience, we can quit the quitting cycle and better support ourselves in the motivation process. 

Listen to their conversation.


Hollis: Hi, Kimmy. I'm so glad we're back recording together. This is great.

Kimmy: Me too. Me too.

Hollis: This is another question posed by somebody in the community that is a broad question, and I'm excited to get into the nuances with Kimmy here today. And the question was how to make decisions, which is a big question in itself.

Kimmy: Yeah, decision making is so stressful. It's like. It's so stressful when you feel like you're making a gigantic decision with every decision you make, which is kind of how I approach just, like, what I'm eating for dinner or what I'm going to wear on my night out. Or anything like that. It really gets to your head.

Hollis: It can. You know, I used to work at this knitting and sewing store in the city, and there was this wall of yarn. When I say wall, it was. Like a huge. Wall of yarn, and it was all organized into different colors. There were different thicknesses and different materials, like alpaca versus, you know, Marino wool, all this stuff. People would walk in, and they would look at the wall and they would be like I don't, I don't even know. Like I don't even know where to start. I can't. And people would end up. Just leaving because there would be too many options.

Kimmy: It reminds me of like going to...I don't know if you've ever tried to decide between two nail polish colors, and they're both like the same type of basic light pink, and you're like, Oh my God, do I do like ballet slipper or?

Hollis: Bubble gum, yeah.

Kimmy: It's so crazy, but when it comes to big decisions. So when you start to sort of be able to clarify what those little decisions are and what's holding you back from making a decision. Or just even see the situation of like, OK, it's all going to be OK. Whichever decision I make, it is not, it is not life or death in those situations, you know, and I can sort of make this a little bit easier for myself. Then I feel like when you start to build that muscle, you build the muscle for making larger decisions. And knowing how to listen to yourself and see outside of all of the emotions that come with making decisions.

Hollis: Yeah. And just getting rid of the noise, you know, like, I think what you're describing is perfect because I really do feel like it's a muscle that you have to strengthen over time because it's a muscle that gets you really, really clear about what is your process, what are your cues, what feels right for you. And body and mind and values and everything that allows you to arrive at the decision that's right for you. But that process, developing that process, developing that strategy, energy takes time to build that, and getting rid of all the noise, all the influences, even the emotions that come along with it. You know, it takes time to learn how to extract all the unnecessary to get clear about, like, what's the? What's the purpose here and what is the clear choice for me?

Kimmy: What's your experience with decision making and like, how have you approached decision making? In your life, were you like a stressful decision maker? Was it always? Was it stressful for you or, you know, lower stakes?

Hollis: So, my experience with decision making, I would imagine that's kind of. Well, I say this so generally, but it really depends. There are days when I cannot make a decision to save my life. Like I remember just recently, I was out to brunch with a friend, and I was looking at the menu and I really could not figure out what the hell I wanted to eat, or drink for that matter. Like I just couldn't do it. And, you know, on those days, obviously, you know, that situation- very low stakes. I'm not going to beat myself up for taking time to figure out what it is that I want to eat and then potentially being, you know, semi-satisfied with what it is that I got. I think that those moments you have to kind of take lightly with yourself, but there have absolutely been moments in my life that are really, really tough. I'm confronted with a really big decision that has either a lot of people involved, a lot of money involved, a lot of emotions involved, and I really like to take my time with those big decisions.  

I've learned over the years that I have to take my time and I can take as much time as I need. I think that's something that a lot of people really struggle with, is feeling like there's this outside pressure or this pressure that they put on themselves that they have to make a decision quickly because we live in such a quick world, but taking your time to really assess, from all different perspectives, what makes the most sense to you and what feels the best in your body and what aligns the most with, you know, the desired life that you want. It takes time to sometimes figure out what that looks like and what that is. And we can get into more of, you know, all of those variables in a moment, but just to wrap up the answer to your question, then there's also moments where I can make a decision like that. Like I have no doubt in my mind that that's exactly what I need and what I need to do and that instinct, that quick decision making, I think has come from many, many years of observing my decisions and observing how I make decisions, when I make decisions. What informs my decision making and what feels right once I've made the decisions and what doesn't feel right? What feels aligned and what doesn't feel aligned. That can be anything from the example at the beginning that I said, like choosing something to eat off a menu versus, you know, I don't know, choosing what to do with a big chunk of money, if I put it in my if I put it in my savings or you know I put it towards the mortgage or, you know, whatever it is. Or like deciding to where to travel or something like it, it can be applied to virtually anything, so, but that again is like a muscle that I feel like I've strengthened overtime and there's still days when it's tough. And there's days when it's very, very clear, but like anything else it's like. You gotta work on it. You don't always necessarily arrive.

Kimmy: Yeah, I feel like there's so much in knowing how to make decisions, knowing when to give yourself time and when to sort of act on that impulse of, like, actually, you know what, I just know how to, I know how I want to move forward here, that's just about getting to know yourself more and more and getting to know cues from your body and getting to know cues from, like external pressures that you that may be really loud. Which is something that I'm coming to understand more and more as I get older, is just what are the external pressures that I make my decisions for and who are the people that I make my decisions for outside of myself? Which a lot of times you do have like, yes you, you need to consider people when you make decisions. A lot of times. But making a decision just for my parents or just for what I want them to, you know, think of me or what feels like the right thing to them as opposed to what feels like the right thing to me, like figuring out all of those external pressures, internal pressures, the things that you tell yourself you need to live by and make decisions for and by and kind of getting clear about those, so you can know how to make decisions for yourself in a more aligned way?  

And I do think that it sort of vacillates a lot day to day, like I, I love that you bring up giving yourself time because that's something that I've sort of given to myself a little bit more and keep trying to remind myself of when I do come up to a big decision now, is just like, I feel like I used to, as you said, really feel like I need to make decisions immediately. Just to be like, I'm moving on. Here's what I want to say. Decisions are really uncomfortable, and I think sometimes when you make the decision just quickly, you think that it'll minimize that discomfort or that period of discomfort, at least for me. Sometimes when I come up to a big decision, I'm like, oh God, I just need to deal with this right now because it feels like this looming comfortable thing that I'm going to have to go through. I just need to make it. Just making the decision and it to be over with.  

What I found is that actually giving myself a little bit of time to process. And to just let it be and let it sort of sink into my body and my understanding of what the decision would mean and actually just sit with it for a bit has really helped with any further discomfort from the decision and just a little bit more clarity when I can say, OK yes, this is what I'm doing. The decisions been made, and it's, you know, I'll do my best to not look back or not compare. What if I did this? What if I did this? And you know all of the mental gymnastics that goes into taking a step forward.

Hollis: That's interesting that you said that decisions are uncomfortable because when I think about decisions, I think that, you know, we're making decisions all day, every day, right? Like we're making, we're making a decision to get out of bed in the morning, to brush our teeth, to make ourselves coffee or get coffee or buy coffee or, like, whatever it is, we're making all these little decisions all the time, every day, and some of them are so small that we don't even realize that we're doing them anymore. And then there are times when, I think decisions, at least from my vantage point, I think that they can be really fun because you're choosing something. It's like every time you choose something, you're affirming: this is for me. You know, I always say, like, you're always voting with your money. Like, whatever you choose to buy, you're also aligning yourself with that thing and you're like: this is me. It's the same thing with every single, every single other choice that you're making. You're saying this is for me. This is not for me. This is for me. This is not for me. And there are really hard times when it's really difficult to parse out. Like, is this me or is this not me? They're really, really close or I don't really feel like either option is me, but I have to make a decision or whatever. But I'm curious, without hopefully going too far off track, what the discomfort is that you feel in the decision-making process or if that comes up with just specific decisions or just generally.

Kimmy: Yeah. God, that's such a good point. As soon as you started talking, I was like, oh, my gosh, I can just see. Yeah, decisions can be fun, and they can be. I think when I think about decisions, though, just the topic of decision-making. It feels stressful. Like when we talked about, you know, having a conversation on the podcast about decisions I was like. Ohhh, man, yeah. Stressful, you know? But just even having the moment with yourself? Like what decision feels good and how can this affirm who I am and what I'm into and how I want to spend my time, how I want to spend my life, how I want to move through the world, is a really nice reminder. I think that decision-making feels uncomfortable or sort of stressful because of the anxiety of making the wrong decision, and I think that can go back to, again, building the muscle of what does feel right? What does feel right to me in making decisions intuitively and when you sort of start to recognize for yourself, like, yes, this feels awesome. I don't have to think about it too much or I did let myself think about it and I can move forward and this feels like the best decision right now. But a lot of the time for me, I'm like, going back and forth between, oh, if I do this, this could happen, and that could be really good. Or this could happen and that could be really bad. And if I make this decision, what am I missing out on? Am I missing out on XY and Z? Will I constantly think about that?

Hollis: OK, let's. Let's put a pin in that because I want to come back to that, but I want to talk about, I want to talk about the specific things that people can concretely rely on to start to build that muscle and then when it feels like. When it feels like those concrete things have all been like if they've gone through all of them and they still don't really know, how do I make this decision? It could be the wrong decision, or it could be the right decision. I think that there is one thing in particular I want to touch on, but I kind of want to save it to the end. Not to hold you down there, but I just don't want to jump ahead too much, but I'm really grateful one that you even, even though this sounded like a really stressful subject to talk about, you were like, yeah, let's do this podcast. And two that that you expressed that because I think that that's a really key component for a lot of people, I think that. There is an element of always wondering, well, what if, like what if I don't do this thing or I don't say yes to that thing or I don't say no to that thing and the possibility that I'm potentially missing out on or the way that I'm putting myself or I'm restricting myself or, you know, whatever it happens to be based on that scenario. So let's be sure to come back to that.  

But I do want to talk about, I think the foundational key thing to making decisions, no matter what it is, I think it really starts with your values and what you find really valuable in your life going back to what I was saying about, you know, you vote every time that you buy something. You vote with your money all the time, like making a choice to extend your energy, extend your time, extend your resources, choose something. If you choose something that's out of alignment with what you value or who you feel like you are, it's going to feel like the wrong decision, right? So I'm curious if you agree on your values kind of being like the foundational aspect of being able to check in and say is this, you know, is this choice in alignment with who I am or what I want for my life or what I value in my life?

Kimmy: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. I will say that's not something that I would, until very recently, think of when making decisions. I didn't have that framework of even like defining my values. I think actually taking the time to define my values and think about those and sort of have those as a mental note is really, really helpful because it can feel like that concept is really elusive until you actually define your values, right?

Hollis: Yeah. And I think that most people, when they're making decisions, even if they haven't defined values for themselves, they're making decisions that are based on their internal value system. I think that when we're talking about making decisions that we're or when we're unsure about when to make a decision or like what's the right. Choice. It helps to have that value system defined to be able to say, well, does this align with my list of values? Or does it not? Because if you know if you don't have, if you don't have them defined, then it can all it can start to feel like you can get caught up in the emotion of you know what the decision is stirring in you or what the choice is stirring in you. And you can you can kind of question like well, is this for me or is this not for me? I don't really know. But having just a little bit of that framework to be able to bounce off of, which is your value system, I think can just be really helpful.

But again, I think most people are doing that most of the time. I think just taking it a step further and clarifying what your values are, I think is just so, so helpful when you're starting to ask yourself like is this for me and I, you know, I'll always go back to the food metaphor. Like my #1 value is health and vitality and I'm saying health and vitality in the sense that I want to wake up every day feeling like. My body is in optimal condition and I am experiencing longevity in the moment and energy in the moment, so if I'm making decisions around food, if I make decisions against that value, I'm likely not going to feel as great as if I were to choose the food option that made me made me feel more aligned with that value, if that makes any sense yes.  

Kimmy: Yeah, yeah. I would just want to say, this is just in the back of my mind -- what's really ironic about this is that I have a list of my values now, but the decision of picking like three to five values from my list of values was just such a decision. Thinking like is this my top value or is this my top value? Does this encompass everything?

Hollis: I think I think a lot of the stress around making decisions starts from when you're really young and I think for the folks who put a lot of pressure on themselves to have to make like the right decision. They potentially, well we, I mean I think we're talking about you and me here also, like we all kind of have experienced either a need or desire to feel like you're not rocking the boat or a need for perfectionism, or a need to be able to control your environment or the potential outcome out of safety. Like all of those things being defense mechanisms. Of you know, not wanting to cause a disruption, not wanting to encounter something that is is potentially really uncomfortable. And so there's this extra pressure to want to make the best decision for yourself and for everybody so that there is no discomfort, that we're coming into in the future and by, you know, getting a little bit older and defining your values for yourself as an adult, you're clarifying what's important to you first and foremost without well, you know, the value system or what's important to the people around you, or your parents, your siblings or whoever.

And like where it was in the environment that you were in growing up, so you're clarifying, OK, this is what's important to me and I can stick to that or that can change as I continue to grow and heal and evolve. My values will likely change and I can, you know, rewrite them. But even by just starting the process, it's that claiming of yourself of saying this is what I want. This is what is important to me and it's again that foundational layer of well, if I'm confronted, if I'm confronted with a decision in the future that makes me question. If this decision is for me, or if this decision or this other decision is for me, and I have the voice of my parents in my head, or I have the voice of somebody else in my head, I can say, well, which one is closer to the value that I defined for myself? So having it there as the baseline, it's a way of coming home to yourself when you have the noise of, you know, the potential other influences around you that you've struggled with over you know the course of your life that might be in your head or might be literally in your ear as they're talking to you. You know, depending on what the situation is.

Kimmy: Right, right. And it's the like coming home to yourself, where you are right now, meeting yourself where you are. Because I think that's the pressure of, like you said, not wanting to rock the boat or make your decision be perfect. And this decision to lead to all of the good things, it to be the perfect decision. You know, a decision is 1 step in a multitude of steps of our life. It's just like a path. And so we know exactly where that's going to lead us, which is where I think a lot of the what ifs come into play, and can really make it more difficult. But meeting yourself where you're at and just being like, OK, this is as I know it for myself right now the best thing to do and the way in which I can move forward with the most alignment, taking into consideration all the things that I need to take into consideration or would like to take into consideration that are important to me right now and the rest is just going to be. The rest is just going to be. You know, I don't know. And we can play out so many different scenarios of what that could be, but when you meet yourself where you're at and sort of like, allow yourself to come into your body and come into the present moment and take it as it is, as opposed to this whole huge sort of life-altering thing, you know.

Hollis: Yeah, absolutely. And I think what you're bringing up is that second tool that I think is so key for decision making which is connecting to your body and feeling the felt experience of what certain decisions create in you and whether it be before you make the decision and checking in with yourself, like does this potential outcome feel good in my body? Or even having made the decision and checking in with your body and saying does this still feel right or does this not feel right, starting to get really clear about those cues is so helpful in informing how we make decisions in the future because it's, again, that part of learning about how you respond and how you react, but less on a mental level of getting trapped in all the millions of possibilities that could be running around in your head and instead listening to what your body is saying because your body will tell you if something feels off, right? It's just a matter of starting to pay attention to that discomfort in your belly, or that discomfort in your chest or, you know, constriction or the feeling of spaciousness, the feeling of excitement, the feeling of elation or that really good gut feeling or feeling in your heart where you're just like yes, this is the right thing for me. And starting to parse out what are those physical details? And again you can start to develop that kind of clarity around those cues around really, really simple small decisions on a daily basis of like choosing an outfit to wear when you go. Well, or what to eat for dinner or, you know, like just asking yourself, does this possibility, does this option get me excited? Or does this option get me excited? Or does this option not make me feel good? Or does this option not make me feel good? You know, asking yourself, asking your body, really what feels right and checking in from there before you check in with your head and like the what if scenarios?

Kimmy: Yeah. So, I feel like a lot of the time after making a decision, I can tune into my body really clearly and feel like, OK, yes, I feel at ease, that feels good, but when you're giving yourself the time to sit with it and like allow yourself to process - how do you gauge cues from the body in that sort of limbo time or processing time?

Hollis: Yeah, I think that's going to be different for everybody but I'll just say that there's so many ways that you can explore it. What I think ends up happening though for every decision, especially if we are, if we're not sure or if it feels like there's pressure around it or. Or, you know, we're scared to make the wrong decision, is that we immediately go to our head. We immediately go to our logic because that's protective. That's the protective mind that's going to be able to figure out all the different possible scenarios and which ones are scary and wrong and ‘bad’ or, you know, whatever and all the possibilities there are. You know, good or in between or whatever. And we live in a logic based society, so that's where we're going to go first. So it can be really hard when we feel the pressure or, you know, the questioning around which decision to make and then to settle all that energy into the body. But it's a practice that everyone can absolutely do, and I think that it's just a matter of figuring out what helps you feel connected to your body. And that's where I say it could be different for everybody because there's a million ways to get into your body.  

You can do, you know, tapping. You can go for a run, you can go to yoga, you can, you know, sit in a warm bath. You can get a massage, you can massage yourself, you can like, there's so many ways. But actually doing something that is physical. And getting your energy from your head actually into your body I think is really key. And when I say getting the energy into your body, I mean actually, like I said, anything that makes you feel connected to the muscles, to the bones, the blood flow, to the the ligaments, the tendons, everything that's not in your skull. It's going to help you get connected to the inherent wisdom that is near your in your body. Because your body is the storage space of all of your experiences, and it knows on a very deep, instinctual level what is right for you and what's wrong for you. It's just a matter of clarifying that felt experience and how that felt experience shows up for you. You know, some people feel a decision very strongl and clearly in their heart, some people really feel it in their gut. Some people feel it as like in their throat as something that needs to be express. But the similarities between all of those felt experiences is that they're felt in the body, they're not felt in the mind. You don't feel in the mind, you feel in the body, your emotions come from your body.  

So whatever it is for you to be able to feel like you're in that physical space. And then just starting to ask yourself the questions like, if I were to wear this outfit tonight, what would that feel like? And instead of listening to your head, like what are the cues that come up in your body? Do you again, do you feel it in your gut? Do you feel it in your heart? Do you imagine yourself feeling the outfit on your skin and like feeling how that would feel, like however it physically shows up for you and just playing with it? You know, just playing, especially if you're starting out with figuring out what your physical cues are and just playing with, you know if you're doing that on a walk, if you're doing that in the bath, if you're doing that while you're, like, massaging your own shoulders or, you know, whatever it happens to be and seeing like when do the answers really, really come clear for you? For me, when I'm on a walk, I it's like stream of consciousness. There's this moment and The First Wives Club where Goldie Hawn is on a treadmill and she's like, I just get my best ideas when I'm working out. And I'm like I so resonate with that. When I'm walking or running, it's just so, so clear. Or when I sit down and I breathe in my body and I'm in a meditation, and I ask myself a question a lot of times, like a really clear answer will come up. But that's me. I'm not going to say that’s like what everybody needs. But figuring out what those things are to help you get into your body, to let your body speak to you, it's just as foundational as knowing your values.

Kimmy: Right. Yeah, I I think that genuine embodiment, whatever that may mean for any person, because for me it's I mean very similar, like sitting down and just sitting in stillness often and doing a body scan is really helpful for me. And sometimes where things become a little bit more clear and I, you know, I'm not talking with anyone. I'm not on my phone and I'm not doing work. I'm not trying to distract from anything. I just, like, give myself time to process and having that genuine embody is really nice because a lot of times, I feel like, certain cues from my body come from other people, or are what I think other people are thinking about me. You know, like if you're feeling, we can use this example of your outfit again, because I was just imagining, if there's an outfit that I think is really cool and then I'm feeling self-conscious about what other people are thinking about it and I'm thinking like how are they perceiving this look on me? Do they think I'm doing a thing? Do they think this? Do they think that? Then, you know, I might feel like discomfort in my stomach or feel like tensing of my shoulders because I'm feeling self-conscious as opposed to, you know, how does it really? How does it really feel? How does it really feel for me? And this can go back to, you know, making decisions for yourself, or decisions for other people to be palatable for other people. And making this decision to wear this because it's palatable for this person as opposed to I'm making this decision because it feels like it's fun for me and it's how I would like to express myself and so I think that's a really nice reminder of how to understand the cues of your body from you and then cues that may be coming from other people, external pressures, societal pressures, familial pressures, whatever.

Hollis: Yeah, absolutely. And I love that you described it in that specific example because starting to get really clear about what your queues, like what you're empowered queues are, and when I say empowered like from the inside of you. Like you have cultivated, you have created, you have experienced that inner cue from yourself versus the cues from outside perspectives or outside forces or opinions or whatever. Getting clear on the distinction is really, really good, because there are times too when our bodies will give us the cue of, you know, feeling embarrassed or feeling ashamed or feeling unsure, and that's also from inside of us. Because there is a difference, knowing when you're experiencing that because you're, you know, you're thinking about what other people might think. Having that experience, when you imagine yourself doing it as an extension or an expression of yourself and just paying attention, figuring out what those distinctions are, I think just really getting clear about the different types of felt experiences when they're coming from you and when they're coming from other people. And the more and more and more you do that, it just becomes more quick. You know, it becomes something that happens more seamlessly and more streamlined. And that's where, you know, we can talk about timing. It can take less time for you to make a decision that's a bigger decision because you've learned your own queue system to be able to inform what feels the best for you, what's the most aligned decision for you? Does that make sense?

Kimmy: Yeah. Yeah. So when we give ourselves time. Sit with our values. Come back to our values, practice our values, and check in with the body is this where we can talk about the what if situation? The monster of of what ifs?

Hollis: Yeah. The reason why I think the "what if" should come later, instead of at the beginning, is because the mind is so exceptional in that it can come up with a million different options and a million different possibilities, right? And that's, you know, the gift that it gives us, but having our value system narrows it down. Narrows down the possible what ifs? Being able to tune into our bodies narrows down the possible "what ifs," and then we get to the "what ifs" instead of spiraling into those millions of potential options, it becomes a little more clear what those "what ifs" could be. And then I think that there are two approaches to the "what if" scenario.  

You can either go at it as, yeah, you have one potential option that you're like, "Oh, this feels like it should be the right one. Okay, what if I do it? Or what if I don't do it? If I do it, will that feel really good for me? And if I don't do it, will I regret not doing it?" And then checking in again with your body, like which one feels more affirming, and then noticing, is it fear or anxiety or self-doubt that's holding you back from doing it? Even though you really want to do it? Well, then you can really decide, if you really want to do it, do you want to let the fear control that decision, or do you really, really want to control that decision, right? Is it the emotion that really wants to make the decision? And then, you know, if you say, "If I don't do it, I'm not really going to regret it," then you can really assess from there like, well, maybe I don't even need to do it. So that's one version of the "what if" scenario.  

And then the other version is, you still have a lot of options. There are still a lot of possibilities and getting clear about, maybe writing down the potential negative outcomes of those "what ifs" and writing down the positive outcomes but always checking back in with your body. Because again, when we're making decisions from our head, which can be really valuable sometimes, especially when we need clarity, if we're feeling like we're overcome with emotion. And it can be really helpful to get everything that's in our heads down on paper, clear in front of us, but then checking in again with your body. Does this feel right? Does this not feel right and giving yourself the opportunity to experience the potential outcome of that decision from a head and body standpoint can help clarify and narrow down. Again, this is the right option. This is not the right option. How does that sound? Does that make sense?

Kimmy: Yes, definitely. I'm a big "what-ifer" and can imagine a lot of different ways in which a decision can go in or a lot of different scenarios. If I make this decision, if I don't make this decision, and that fork in the road where the road will lead me, depending on which path I take. What do you think about allowing space for it to be something that you can imagine, and also something that you don't even know yet, the freedom of what comes next, and giving in, leaving room for that? That is something that I find really freeing to check in with, and be like, you know, I can imagine all these things, but also it could be something totally different. I just can't project all of it, and that can be really scary, and it can also be really freeing and I’ve felt both. I felt both of those.

Hollis: I'm really, really glad that you got here because this is what I wanted to save from the beginning of our conversation because there are some decisions that will never become fully clarified that will never get the clear sign or the clear message or the clear cue that this is the right decision and I don't think that in this life we have to know the reason why everything happens the way that it happens. And sometimes we just have to make the choice, even if it's not like the "hell yes," right? Even if it's not even close to the "hell yes," sometimes we just have to make the decision, and this is where it goes back to self-trust and trusting that no matter what happens, whatever the outcome is, if it goes sour, you will still have your back enough to get yourself back in line with your values, with what you need, with how to take care of yourself to find the resilience.  

And, you know, whatever might have been the ‘wrong decision’ and you will also have the self-trust to know that, you know, if you did make that decision, you made that decision with the information that you had at the moment and it really was the best choice for you in that moment. And from that vantage point, everything that you learned to get back on track, was everything that you needed to get back on track. You know, sometimes we have to veer off course to go see, like, go down that detour to see that view and struggle up the weird part of the mountain to get back to the path and be like wow, I just picked up some, really cool rocks along the way and some flowers too. And I was not expecting that. But I'm so glad that I went that way and that I added an hour to my hike to get back to right where I was supposed to be, where I wanted to be going in the first place. You know, it's never going to be as bad as you think it is, unless you know, it's actually with regards to your physical safety or you're making decisions that are not aligned with your values or from that gut instinct place.  

If you're using those tools but you're still not really sure, you're likely going to be making a decision that is as close to the best possible outcome for you as possible, but you can never know 100%, and you have to just trust that what's for you is not going to miss you. Right? That saying that's being thrown around all over the place. That phrase I think is being thrown around because it's so true and it's so resonant, like what is for you will find you, what you need will not miss you. It doesn't matter if you go this way or that way or this way, you're going to come around to what you need at the end of the day. And you don't have to know how to get there.

Kimmy: Right. Yeah. Going back to perfectionism, that's what can be so confronting is like, you have to know where this is going or, you know, anxiety is the projecting all of the things that can go wrong. Speaking as a fretful person, I can definitely relate to this. You know, you're thinking of, how can I take all of the steps now to have my back in the future and make sure that this is a good decision? A thoughtful decision? One that considers the people around me and myself and helps me plan for the future?

But leaving room for that to be a little bit surprising and know that you have taken care of yourself in the past and you will take care of yourself in the future, and all you can do is take care of yourself now. Sometimes getting stuck in that cycle of perfectionism and this idea of like, I have to know, I have to see this, and nothing can go wrong and it has to go according to this specific plan and these specific steps if I make that decision, sometimes cuts us off from different possibilities and the potential for growth.  

You talking about the hike, it just reminded me, like I've been trying to go on morning walks before I start work and just let myself sort of like wander and go down whatever street, like, oh, that looks nice then I go down there or oh, I really feel like going down this street that I love. There a cemetery that I like to walk past that's just very beautiful where I live, and giving myself the chance to stop and investigate different areas and explore the beauty of these different areas. And then allow myself to wander back home is so nice. I used to sort of follow my walk as just going around this specific stretch. And there's something nice about that, but it gets monotonous and boring after a while, and just giving yourself space to just wander. This can just be what it is. It’s a beautiful thing?

Hollis: Yeah, what you're talking about makes me think of, when I think of making decisions or when I think of, just even the act of living, there are two major states to be in. There's the active or more Yang state, and then there's the passive more yin state. And what you're describing, it sounds like it's tapping more into that yin state of going with the flow and letting yourself make decisions based on that instinct of what looks and feels good in the moment and letting yourself kind of passively be taken along for the journey. And there are times and places for that 100%, and I think we all really need that experience of being able to be spontaneous, being able to see like what comes up, like do I want to be surprised? Do I want to let myself be taken on a journey? I don't want to have to, like, be thinking about every possible, you know, choice that I'm going to make. And so that's one state of making decisions and I think that, you know, where we kind of got to with the with the trust is that sometimes, even when you want to make decisions from that active more Yang state, you have to you have to let yourself be in the passive state and just be like, okay, you know, the possibilities are going to appear to me. The right decision is going to appear to me. I don't have to know right now. And then there are times and places and moments where you have to be active and you have to make decisions from that kind of strategic point of view. And there's a time and a place for that, and that doesn't have to be every single day. And that doesn't have to be every single decision and allowing yourself kind of go with the flow of what feels right day-to-day. Like maybe there will be other mornings where you're like, you know, actually I only have 20 minutes for this walk. I know the exact walk that I can take that's going to make me feel good in 20 minutes. So, I'm going to take that walk. And that's like, you know a more active decision making versus I have a leisurely hour and a half so I'm going to let myself wander and see where I get to go, you know, being more passive decision-making state.  

So just recognizing that you don't have to be all in one or all in the other, you can allow yourself to be in whatever you need to be in that moment. And that's also not how you have to make every single decision. You can. You can let yourself be taken in either way. And sometimes where you want to be today might not be where you need to be, if you want to be active. Sometimes you need to be passive. Sometimes when you're passive you need to be active and that's, I think, where the discomfort can come in. But that's where the lessons are learned as well.

Kimmy: Do you have any tools for knowing when to incorporate some of that passive decision making and some more active decision making?

Hollis: Yeah, yes, I do. I think the passive decision making is very in line with when we need time for restoration. I'm thinking about this day that I kind of accidentally gave myself last Friday where I just had a day in the city and let myself really just do whatever I wanted to do. I went to a yoga class. I went to lunch with my partner. I went to a museum. I let myself really just be taken moment by moment by what I felt like doing. And it was 100% a self-care restorative experience. And I think that we need, we need that passive, more yin type of approach to our time and how we make decisions and how we go about our day when we need, we need to restore, like we need to just get back to what really feels good for me on an intuitive level. And then the active more Yang ways of making decisions, I think, are when we need to optimize our time. When something is actually urgent, when we do have time constraints, like, you know, you only have so much time to get to the airport, like you can't be passive in those moments, you know.

Kimmy: Yeah. You're like, I'll just sort of see how I feel, you know?

Hollis: Right. Like the plane's gonna wait for me.

Kimmy: Yeah. Yeah. No, that's such a good example.

Hollis: But also testing it out for yourself. You know, going back to the outfit thing, like you can make an active decision based on the environment you're going to be in and be like, "OK, this is what I'm going to wear." Or you can make it be passive and be like, "What feels good right now?" and test it out. For yourself, what are the moments that it feels right for you? I think this is going to be different for everybody, how much they want to be involved, they have the clear-cut boundaries for themselves and how much they want it to be intuitive and instinctual and freeform. So, start paying attention to when those moments are for you, and if you're trying to force a Yang approach when a Yin approach is needed, you'll likely experience some pushback and you will likely come up against the feeling of, "I can't make a decision," and then you'll be forced into having to just go with the flow. And I think it'll be the same if it's vice versa as well. If you're trying to be passive but people or other pressures are really being put on you to make a decision, you'll feel that as well. Then you have to step into the Yang energy. So yeah.

Kimmy: Right, right. That makes sense.

Hollis: Cool. Well, I feel like we touched on a lot in this episode. Do you feel like there's anything else that, if you were to think about a big decision that you had to make, or that you're in the midst of making right now, is there anything that we didn't touch on that could be helpful in making that decision?

Kimmy: That's a good question. I was actually thinking, do I want to ask you a question like that? OK. Yes, one more. If you're, this is me asking for myself, if you're trying to make a decision and it's an experience that is very new for you, when do you know when to ask a friend and, like, how do you know? Sometimes I really want to ask a friend and I think that's really helpful a lot of the time to sort of get it out of my, very congested view. Maybe I'll be looking at a decision and sort of just expand it to someone that's really trustworthy. And then other times, I've asked someone, and it's just sort of like their response, I don't think it's helpful for me to actually getting in touch with my own decision-making. It's just another influence. You know what I mean?

Hollis: I resonate with that so much.

Kimmy: So basically, what do I do?

Hollis: Ha! Yeah. Let me tell you how to make that decision Kimmy. No, as a recovering people pleaser myself, I totally, totally understand this because I think, again, if you're coming from that people-pleasing mentality or from that place of I don't want to make the wrong decision, you're going to want to outsource. It almost takes the pressure off of you, and also so that you feel like you've resourced everything, all the information that you need to potentially make the right decision without actually listening to what you and your instincts really need. So it's a very fine line, I think. And I think the number one thing to ask yourself if you are feeling the urge to talk to somebody else or ask somebody else what they think or to bounce ideas off of them is to ask yourself why? Why am I? Why do I need to ask this question? Is it because I'm seeking validation for this decision that I want to make for myself? Well, that gives you so much information right there.

Kimmy: Another thing that this makes me think of is when you ask someone for their opinion on something and then they give you their genuine opinion and you're like, no.

Hollis: That's not what I wanted. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kimmy: You're like, yeah, that's not. That's not what I wanted. What is that? Because I could do that for myself, you know, I guess technically I could pose that question to myself and be like, "OK, if I could say this, then how does that make me feel?" But sometimes it isn't until you hear it from someone else where you're like, actually no.

Hollis: I think it's just that we are always seeking validation outside of ourselves because we're social creatures like we want that acceptance and we also want to be seen by other people. So I think that there is the feeling of like, oh, I'm going to ask this question because I'm creating that acceptance right now. I'm creating that inclusion right now. I'm creating that validation from someone outside of myself because I, I don't have the strength within me right now to give that to myself. And when we don't get it or we don't get it in the way that we want it, it can fall flat. And then it can feel even more frustrating, and it can feel even more damaging to the self-worth that we were trying to build up, you know? It can almost feel like wow, now my levels have gotten lower because I really didn't get validated in the way that I needed to. And so that's where I feel like it's sometimes a fine line because if you're seeking validation, and even if you're not seeking validation, if you're just seeking a certain response or answer, you cannot guarantee that that's what you're going to get from the other person. And I think it's only really safe to outsource when you're in a situation like what you described. When you don't actually know what the potential options or outcomes are going to be, but you have to make a decision. And so you ask people who are knowledgeable of what that potential outcome could be.

I think that it’s valuable when you're talking to someone like a coach or a therapist who has experiences with what exactly you're grappling with. That's an example of doing that. Or somebody in the industry, if it's something related to your career. I think if you're just asking a friend for their opinion, and maybe it's a friend that you're close to, but doesn't have a great track record of really being able to like, see you or validate or empathize with your experience, you can't really count on them giving you the advice that you're going to need. I think that it's like anything else when you're seeking information outside of yourself. You're looking for a specific resource that you need, and you have to be specific with where you go to get that resource. You have to be specific about the person that you're asking, the type of question that you're asking, and you have to know that maybe you also won't get exactly what you need right away, so it's OK to take some of those responses that you might get, and if they don't feel right again, if they don't align with your values, they don't feel right in your body, you are welcome to say return to sender. I didn't actually need that. I don't have to take that. You know what I mean?  

Or you can take it in and and say, like, does this actually benefit me in some way? Does this perspective benefit me in some way, maybe a little bit of it does, so I can hold on to that. And I can let go of the rest of it. But I think being really clear about, well, what you're asking, who you're asking it from, what you're asking about, which can sometimes be difficult when we're making decisions that are really emotional because we're in an emotional state and we want that emotional support. But I think having a little bit of that clarity of mind so that you're not putting yourself in a position where you'll get further injured. Just approaching it from that place is the best way to get what you're actually seeking.

Kimmy: That makes sense. Having that little question for yourself like, "Is this for validation? Is this? Is it? What if I don't get the validation?” You know, just having that little question in the back of your mind, like if it is for validation, how can I give myself the validation? In what ways can I validate myself, and in what ways have I validated myself in the past and how can I be that sort of external validation for myself?

Hollis: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. What is it that I'm actually searching for outside of myself? And how can I give that to myself first? And if I actually can't because I have no experience with the situation, then yes, you know, outsource. For sure. But there are many, many, many, many, many times we ask people for their advice or their opinion when we really know the answer. We're just not listening to ourselves. We're not giving ourselves the opportunity to find our own answers.  

Awesome. Well, this was a very fun chat with you, Kimmy. Thank you so much for coming on again.

Kimmy: My goodness, thank you for having me again.

Hollis: I hope that everyone listening got a little bit out of this as well. That you got some clarity around how to make decisions for yourself and if you have any questions for us about how to continue making decisions for yourself, if you want a resource from us, we're here.  

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