One day I got an email from my sister asking me to visit her for the weekend in San Diego (I live in LA.) Like all brothers and sisters, we’ve had our ups and downs and I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to go. And yet, thoughts came like, “Come on, she’s your sister, go visit her!” And so, naturally, I felt conflicted. Not knowing what to do, I found myself spontaneously getting quiet and turning within.
As my mind quieted down, I began to FEEL into the question: “Do I see myself driving to my sister’s place this weekend?” I didn’t so much think about the question with the idea of wanting an immediate answer, as much as I simply meditated on it. Soon, I began to get this very clear feeling that my heart wasn’t into going. And in fact, I realized that to go would not only be out of alignment with how I genuinely felt, but who wants to be around someone when they are doing something out of a feeling of obligation rather than because they truly want to?
And so, I found myself emailing her back saying that I wouldn’t be coming to see her the following weekend, but we would get together another time. And as soon as I sent it, I couldn’t help noticing that not only did I feel good about my decision, but there were no feelings of guilt whatsoever… none.
This came as quite a surprise as often the desire in me to please others was so strong, that my mind would immediately begin to second guess itself, even calling the decision selfish (even though IT was the one that made it… oh, the irony!) But this time there was only peace. Why? Because it was just so clear to me that I wasn’t meant to be there that weekend… and that’s all it meant! (And in fact she ended up coming here for Christmas Eve and we had a great time.)
Once I stumbled onto this Intuitive Decision Making process, I started using it more and more, even for little decisions. For example, I remember opening my refrigerator and seeing an apple and a chocolate chip cookie on the top shelf. Part of me wanted to eat healthy and part of me wanted that cookie! So, I asked my body what it wanted, got quiet and “felt” into it. Pretty soon it became obvious that, in that moment, my body wanted the cookie. And so, because I took the time to check in with how I truly felt (versus what I thought,) I was able to not only enjoy the cookie, but do so 100% guilt free.
Note that had my body wanted the apple, that would have been completely fine too. What you will discover is that following your authentic intuition in the moment is actually more important than the action itself, contrary to what the rational mind may think!
THE IDM formula: is the FEELING a Red Light, a Green Light, or Mixed?
At my Santa Monica Eckhart Tolle meetup, whenever I would share about this Intuitive Decision Making formula, I found myself using a simple traffic light as an analogy. Specifically, if the FEELING (again, it’s intuitive, not thought based) I got was a “NO,” that felt like a clear red light meaning STOP, do not proceed. On the other hand, if the feeling I got was a “YES,” that felt like a clear green light, meaning GO, or proceed.
However, what happens when you get a feeling that is mixed? In other words, where a part of you feels “Yes, I would like to do this,” and another part of you feels some hesitation, a “No, I don’t want to do” this or “I am not sure.” What do you do when this happens? The answer is nothing. You didn’t get a full green light telling you to do it, but you also didn’t get a full red light not to do it. Since you didn’t get a clear answer either way, you do nothing.
Now, most of us find it extremely challenging “to do nothing.” And the reason is that the mind’s knee-jerk reaction is to do something! Anything!! This is why we sometimes do things that are not in our own best interest. Because we become anxious and so we take action not because it’s the wisest thing to do, but simply to alleviate the tension we feel of NOT taking action. Simply put, the mind often believes that any action is better than no action, but this simply isn’t true.
So, to review:
An “all red FEELING” means pass. Whatever it is, my heart’s NOT in it, so I don’t do it.
An “all green FEELING” means do it. Whatever it is, my heart feels good about it, so I go for it.
And lastly, a FEELING of some red and green together tells me I am simply not yet clear (at THIS moment… note that it can change 5 minutes later. It’s all about being authentic in the moment with how you truly feel.)
If I were to give this feeling a color, it’s a mixture of some red and some green.
I should mention that if you have a deadline approaching and still aren’t sure what to do, just watch your body… you will find yourself responding authentically, in real time, as the moment unfolds. The key is not to panic, but to trust LIFE to guide you. My experience is that it always does… and beautifully so!
Intuition comes from a place of pure not knowing. An open heart, silent listening, and trust in LIFE itself all pay huge dividends. And, like any skill, the more you practice IDM, the easier and more natural it becomes as you learn to make decisions from your heart, rather than from your head.