Why You Want to Make Choices, not Decisions

I once heard that the Latin root of the word decide is to kill, or cut off. As in to kill or cut off all other options. choices

That’s how it often goes, isn’t it? We decide, and that’s it. A stake is firmly planted, blinders are on, case is closed.

Once a decision is made, we’re no longer open to wisdom and new hunches in the same way. Our antennae is down and our vision narrows in on what we’ve decided.

I used to work as a trial consultant, helping trial attorneys select jurors and craft their arguments in a way that would encourage the jury to decide in their favor as early as possible. As soon as a juror had a bias toward one side, a decision wasn’t far behind. Each new piece of evidence was seen through the lens of their bias and their mind gradually closed in more, and more, and more around their eventual decision.

Choosing, on the other hand, allows you to stay more open. To choose among options acknowledges that your choice is just one of many possibilities. When you choose you don’t kill off everything else; you simply take the path that feels right at that particular moment in time. Implicit in a choice is the fact that you can choose over and over again, turning yourself toward different options as they call to you.

I don’t know about you, but I feel energy in words. Words like hate, restrict, confine, and even decide leave me feeling tight and closed. And words like freedom, love, truth, and…potential, choice, and possibility leave me feeling open and free.

“I have to make a decision” feels nothing like “I get to make a choice”. The former feels like an end—and it is. The latter feels like a beginning. New choices can always be made as we allow our mind to change and we choose again.

Decisions tend to be made with our personal, “little mind”, often through some combination of intellect, reasoning, and logic. We think hard, consider the evidence, and “make up our mind”.

We choose from a different place, one that is deeper and wiser than our brain, logic, or thinking process. We choose with our hearts and with our guts. We choose something that feels aligned with who we are beneath our personal mind. Choices often have that feeling of choosing us—we aren’t in charge so much as we are yielding to what wants to happen.

So, how can this distinction help you? Notice how you feel. When you’re facing what feels like a tunnel-vision, single-minded decision, see if there’s a choice to be made instead.

There are always more possibilities than those we can see in any given moment. Know they are there, even if you can’t see them.

Loosen your mental grip on what looks like limited options and expand your vision. Think of that relaxed place we fall into with our eyesight (vision)—when your body and mind relax, your peripheral vision expands. The same thing happens in your mind when your brain isn’t locked into one path. You “see” possibility out in the far corners. Those options were always there, you simply couldn’t detect them before.

Cling to nothing, narrow in on nothing, and instead allow yourself to be drawn in a direction.

Allow the choice to make you.

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