“How do you make decisions when there are so many choices, many of which appear on first glance to be attractive?”
Many years ago, I heard the expression “Red Light Flashing”.
You know the experience of coming to an intersection, and the lights are ‘on the blink’, when there’s been a malfunction of some description. Often you're alerted to the potential hazard by the lights in all directions flashing red. It says WARNING! proceed with extreme caution. It doesn't always mean stop completely or turn round and go back, but to take extra care, look in all directions, and only then, proceed when safe.
Red Light Flashing and decision making
Many people use the technique frequently, as often as there are decisions to be made. Others only when they feel uncomfortable, and aren't sure why.
The method is to sit quietly and settle your mind, then allow each option to float into consciousness and observe the sensations that are produced in your body in response to the option. At this stage you're not putting a value judgement on what's happening, but observing and learning with a sense of curiosity.
A sense of unease
Sometimes you’ll experience a vague sense of discomfort, a niggling feeling of unease. You might squirm a bit, and feel less enthusiastic than you logically expected about this particular option. The sensation can be subtle and elusive. It's rarely the all-singing, all-dancing billboard, shrieking “Don’t Go Here”, “Wrong Way, Go Back!” These are quite clear and generally harder to ignore!
Proceed with Caution!
Whenever you become aware of a Red Light Flashing, it’s always best to proceed with caution. You might next ask yourself “What’s going on?” and explore gently, yet more deeply - “Is there something here that’s not as it should be?”
Sometimes you can’t see any reason for the ‘caution’ and you may choose to continue in the same direction, but more slowly. You'll ask more questions, particularly if it’s about a job offer, or financial investment that’s too good to refuse. You'll gather more information, and then choose to continue or not once you have the extra information.
Taking the time out allows you to be more thoughtful and aware; to observe and assess the pros and cons of the situation.
Sometimes only when you have the answers to your questions will you become more wary and stop completely. Things really don’t look good with the ‘once in a lifetime’ offer.
Often, however, you don't need to intellectualise - simply observe and acknowledge any discomfort in your body as a warning. But whatever you find works best for you, the message is to tread slowly and see what happens next.
I sometimes find my dreams will make some commentary, particularly when I’m being stubbornly obstructive and don’t want to face or make a difficult decision. (You might find the Drabble on The Small Wooden Box interesting for a particularly vivid dream that couldn’t be ignored).
So, in the same way as you’d proceed carefully at the cautionary lights at an intersection, the internal Red Light Flashing is your cue to take the next steps slowly, and with eyes wide open.