“May your choices reflect your Hopes, not your Fears”- Nelson Mandela
One of our most valuable and unique capabilities as humans, is our ability to make decisions. It is a well- known fact that we make on average 35,000 decisions per day . We might or might not be fully conscious about it, but actually, our life is an accumulation of all those tiny decisions we are making in our daily affairs.
Knowing that, isn´t it of most relevance to question ourselves where is the source of our decision-making process and to which extent, our decisions are serving our true desires and purposes or actually, if our own decisions are playing against us?
According to Ramón Samsó (2019) we are never alone when we take decisions. We are always influenced by two main aspects of our lives: Our internal experience and our external experience. For most people, the external experience actually defines to a great extent the way they make decisions. As we were Children, our parents decided for us, at School, our Teachers decided for us, the Educational System decides what it is what is relevant and meaningful to learn and which methodology we should use; Society decides which type of citizens we should become. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what is a good decision or a bad decision and wants make it for us.
On the other side, our internal experience is our own interpretation of the World: Our thoughts, feelings and reactions to all the information and impressions we accumulate in our lives. Driven by those emotions towards what happens to us, is how we decide to move forward. However, there are fundamental forces behind every action and decision: Every minute of our lives, we are deciding based on Love or based on Fear.
Decisions based on Fear
What is the meaning of Fear?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary (2019), Fear is “an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful or bad, that it´s happening of might happen”.
We are social beings that want to feel accepted and to have a sense of belonging in our society. We all have craved for attention and recognition in one way or another. So, it is not a surprise that as the years pass by and we accumulate life experiences, we tend to make decisions that are “fitting” with our family, culture, religion and geographical place we are living in. Over time, we adopt those external expectations as if they were our own, and shape our Personality in a way that fits those expectations. However, when we make decisions based on adopted beliefs rather than based in our authentic desire, we develop a sense of anxiety and insecurity. To depend on external approval becomes the norm.
Since we cannot really control all the external situations that surround our life, we become afraid and try to overprotect ourselves by covering up, either by the urge of gathering more things to feel more secure (e.g. money, relationships, food, power, etc.) or by trying to gain influence through people. As the Indian Mystic Sadhguru (2018) says “The whole need to conquer comes from the fear of losing yourself. The very need to conquer something or somebody has come to you because there is a deep fear of losing yourself on many levels (…) You feel so inadequate that you feel that the very way you were created is not enough(…)”.
One of the most common ways to express inadequacy is by saying to ourselves that we have many “Problems”. What constitutes a problem? If you ask a person on the street: Could you tell me what are your problems? It will be very likely that the list will be enormous- “Now that you ask, actually, I have so many problems. The weather is not good, I have so much stress at work, my husband does not listen to me, my children are not doing their housework…” and so the list will be endless. In the eyes of the person, all his/her “Problems” come from the outside. Everyone else is creating a problem for him/her. The size of the problem, is directly proportional to the degree of emotional attachment with the external persons and situations. By feeling that the “Problem” is not in their own control as they attribute it to the external happenings, the “Problems” tend to look bigger than themselves, thus enhancing this feeling of “I´m not enough, I´m a little person in this vast world”.
Now, the million-dollar question: How to overcome this feeling sensation of not being enough? How many times you have wanted to do something, but you were unable to act?
When we talk about desire, we talk about that need we have, an anxiety to acquire or achieve something in particular. It is at the end, a way to enhance ourselves. The problem is when this desire has sprung up from the wrong identifications, which are our limited beliefs.
Still, there is another way to express desire. There is a more positive and powerful energy, that does not have the boundaries that the fear has. Its energy has no limits and no preconditions. It is so powerful that it is the vital presence that holds everything alive. That force of energy is called Love.
Decisions based on Love
What would it feel like if you would base your decisions on Love?
What means actually Love for you? If we try to find a definition of Love in the dictionary, we find that no definition is really complete. How can you define a force with no boundaries, with our human language, which has many boundaries?
As the American Cosmologist Carl Sagan said: “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through Love.” Love is the force that drives life and which is basically present in anything and anywhere. Love is the very essence of our beings. Therefore, when we say we take decisions based on Love, we are listening to our inner intuition. Our inner Nature which tell us in whispers what is Real for us. Another interesting definition used by Gerald Jampolsy: “Love is the total absence of fear. Love asks no questions. It´s natural state is one of extension and expansion, not comparison and measurement”.
How do you know when you have made a decision based on Love?
When you take decisions based on Love, you don´t fear any outcome. You don´t judge beforehand if the consequences are good or bad. You trust and enjoy the process, even if the result might be unknown. This might sound strange and even unrealistic to some people, especially if you have grown up in a Culture that values results over process, or experiences. However, if we think about it: To which extent this kind of belief has helped us move forward in our aspirations? When we just value results, and not the process, the fear of failure becomes a great player in the game.
We want results, quick and with the less margin of errors as possible. This is not only unrealistic, but also very stressful. So many people prefer and decide to play small. Think conventionally, make few mistakes, and follow the most transited path. Love is still there, because Love it´s the very source of your existence, although it´s not flowing on it´s full and beautiful expression through you when you are unaware of it, being busy thinking about fear. In a place where fear exist, Love has less space to manifest. To Love is to Trust. To Trust everything: life, situations, other people and more importantly, yourself. Trust is to open yourself to life, to the outside and to everything. Show your vulnerability and embrace it. There is a popular saying that summarizes this beautifully: “To love at all is to be vulnerable”.
So, how do we know that we have made a decision based on Love?
It felt like an intuition that came from the inside, and not from the outside (i.e. family, friends, an expert, the news, etc.)
It feels right for you
It´s something meaningful for you
You feel happy when you think about it (even if it scares you a bit)
It shakes your world, by stretching your boundaries and making you grow
You don’t care about the result or the end, and you are more excited about the journey
You enjoy doing it
What matters is the effect the decision will have in other people/in the world and not only about getting benefits for yourself.
A thoughtful reflection by the great author Brené Brown (2018), which challenges our course of choice when done over fear and not over Love : “We fail the minute we let someone else define success for us. Like many of you, I spent too many years taking on projects and even positions, to prove I could do it. I was driven by a definition of success that didn´t reflect who I am, what I want or what brings me Joy. It was simply accomplish, acquire, collapse, repeat. There was little Joy, very little meaning (…) lots of exhaustion and resentment”.
At the end, the biggest gift of life when we are on the path of deciding every moment of our lives with Love rather than fear, is the amazing realization of the kind of person we are becoming: Strong, resilient, courageous, full of Love. Nelson Mandela said it very wisely: “In my life, I became to the realization that the real courage is not about not having fear, but in being able to overcome it when acting in the name of Justice, Generosity and Love”.
And you, what do you choose?
Do you make decisions based on the “must” or in the “want”?
How do you feel at the end of your day?
How often do you choose your intuition over your rationality?
What is the worst and the best that can happen, if you decide do what you Love the most?
When you take a decision, do you think of yourself as the only beneficiary?
If you had no limits, what would you be doing with your Life right now?