Another stunt the backseat driver likes to pull is telling you about stuff that happened to other people, that is highly unlikely to happen for you.
You’ve met the girl of your dreams, you’re ready to pop the big question, and here he pops up with a million examples of people whose marriage went sour to try and convince you’re making the mistake of your life. But those people aren’t you! And even if they come from similar backgrounds - even if they come from the same family - they still aren’t you.
So what that you grew up in the same home? Do you like exactly the same things? Do you work at exactly the same job? Do you have exactly the same personality, abilities or goals in life?
Nope? So don’t listen. That advice is talking about someone else, it’s not talking about you.
When you’re dealing with a healthy personality, the other person gives you space to express your views, put across another opinion, and generally listens in a respectful way to the points you’re trying to make, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them.
You won’t find any of these things happening by the backseat driver. The BSD doesn’t care what you really think and he’s not interested in having a real discussion with you. Remember, this is all about who gets to be in control, and while you’re the one actually steering the car, there can’t be two of you setting the direction.
The backseat driver wants you to see the world the way he does, and to act and react the way he would. Full stop. There’s nothing to talk about here. And the way he’ll pull you around to his way of thinking (once you’ve figured out that he is not you) is by grinding you down with an incessant monologue about what he thinks should be happening.
“You shouldn’t be so nice to people, they’re taking you for a ride. You should put yourself first, because if you don’t look after number 1, no-one else is going to. People are just looking for a chance to stab you in the back and pull one over on you. You can’t trust anyone. You should stop making an effort with those people. Everyone’s just in it for themselves, they’re all selfish, self-centred people.”
Is there a place for to respond, during a rant like this? Nope. Understand that trying to bring the backseat driver around to your point of view is a complete waste of time. So then, why bother arguing with him in the first place?
It’s because you’re not having that argument to persuade him of the truth.
You need the argument to persuade yourself of the truth.
Which is when the backseat driver will try another strategy out on you: As soon as he sees you’re starting to pull away from all the mind-control and automatic obedience to what he thinks you should be doing, he’ll try to rush you into making rash decisions.
“Do it now! Buy that massively overpriced house now, because if you don’t, someone else is going to step in and get the deal of the century! Tell your sister what you really think about her now! After what she’s just done you will never have an opportunity to tell her the real truth about herself, and if you don’t set things straight, how is she ever going to know how much she hurt you and how horrible she really is? Quit your job now! You can’t stand it anymore, it’s such a grind, the journey in is so tedious and horrible. Who cares about money when you’re so miserable? There’s more important things in life!”
Notice the backseat driver is hugely convincing, at least in the moment. But what’s missing here is the necessary give-and-take that will enable you to really explore all sides of a decision before really making your mind up. Sure, the decision itself is important, but what leads up to making it is probably even more so.
Because once you’ve explored all the angles, and really thrashed things out, and taken the possible consequences into account, only then can you really make a decision that you’re probably not going to regret, however it ends up turning out.
Well, I've got up to completing the next batch of Podcasts for the 'How to make the right decision, every single time' course.
This week, I've got the following goodies for you to listen to, from Workshop 2 of the course:
Module 1: What makes a decision 'good'?
Module 2: The mind's role in the decision-making process
Module 3: The soul dimension to decision-making
Just click on the nice blue pictures below, to download the MP3.
(And don't forget that you can sign up to get the full, FREE version of this course by sticking your email in the sidebar (if that's working...) or if not, in the sign-up box on the home page.)
The following is an except of the FREE version of the 'How to Make the Right Decisions, Every Single Time' course that I've put together.
If you want to get the full FREE version, then just stick your email into the form in the blog sidebar here (on the right), and give it a day for the full report to be delivered straight to your inbox.
UPDATE: Wouldn't you know it, my embedded form isn't working!
Instead, I've stuck one here in the blog, below, while I try to figure out what Mailchimp is up to.
Did you know that when it comes to the big decisions in life, like which house to buy, or what place to live, or who to marry, your rational brain is really only rubber-stamping your final choice? The real decision on these big ticket items is being made by your gut, or your emotional brain, and it’s then passing that choice up to your rational brain for the formal sign-off.
I know it doesn’t always look like that, because the rational brain is very good at coming up with a whole bunch of justifications and rationalizations as to why the decision you made is the best ever, even if really it isn’t. That’s the source of all those cognitive biases we talked about, back in the last module.
Let’s use a couple of common examples, to show what I’m talking about here. Say, someone is addicted to cigarettes. At the emotional level, at the physiological level, they feel they need the nicotine, that the nicotine is filling some sort of emotional need.
(Technically, they’re right, because people only get addicted to substances in the first place because on some physiological level, they enjoy the sensation it gives them and end up craving more of it.)
Now, you can take the cigarette addict, and you can show them all the stats showing how many smokers die from lung cancer, and from emphysema, and all the other nasty diseases. Then, you can show them how many hours of their life they’re wasting every day stuck in the smoking room, or out by the front door of their buildings. Then, you can give them a huge pie-chart clearly spelling out how much many they’d save if they quit their habit; and how many people they may be poisoning with the second-hand smoke – and it won’t make a blind bit of difference.
What’s going on here is that all of these arguments are being made to the rational, cognitive brain, and they’re all good, watertight reasons to stop smoking. The smoker themselves will probably agree with you 100% that quitting would be the best decision they ever made – but unless and until they get their emotional brain onside, they simply can’t get there.
Because it’s the emotional brain that’s really pulling the strings, and we first have to find out the real reasons that person wants to carry on smoking, and to frame the argument in those terms, if we really want to get somewhere.
The same thing holds true for any addictive, negative or self-destructive behavior or habit you care to mention. You can make as many rational arguments as you want to about how junk food is bad, and exercise is good, and how important it is to work on reducing your anger, and reducing your anxiety and stress, and getting more motivated, but until you start talking the language that the emotional brain understands, you’re going to be stuck at square one, unable to move forward.
This is such an important point, I’m going to repeat it:
Rational arguments are great for the rational brain.
Your frontal lobes loves all the statistics, and the research and the information, and the facts you’re filling it up with. But especially on the big decisions, your rational brain is not the one who’s in the driving seat. Your gut, your emotional brain, is the one calling the shots, and until and unless you recognize that fact and start talking to the emotional brain in the language it understands, you won’t be able to get out of the gate, when it comes to making a good decision and sticking to it.
In the next module, we’re going to discover what language the emotional brain speaks, how to understand it, and most importantly of all, how to start communicating with it, so we can get it on board in our decision-making process.
I've got a treat for you: I've started podcasting the 'How to make the right decisions, every single time' course, and I have the first installments ready for you today.
They're in MP3 format, so they're ready to upload straight to your easy listening device (I hope...)
Introduction: The decision making methodology that's going to change your life
Workshop 1, Module 1: Why being able to make the right decision is so important
Workshop 1, Module 2: What you're going to learn, and how it's going to help you
Just click the image below, to download the MP3.
just click the images to download your mp3!
When it comes to making good decisions, the self-help gurus (whoever they are…) usually line up to tell you that just need to get enough information, and apply your willpower and brain power, and voila: you’ll get the perfect decision.
There’s just one problem with this advice: it’s baloney. Once you start to dig a little deeper, you discover that there’s a whole bunch of things that you need to factor in to your decision-making process. So to help you sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to figuring out whether that piece of self-help advice is actually really going to help you, I’ve put together a list of the 6 myths about making a decision that everyone thinks are true.
Myth 1: The more information you have, the better your decision will be
As anyone who’s ever sat on the internet for hours trying to choose the right shade of paint for their guest room can tell you, information overload is actually really unhelpful, when it comes to making a decision.
Researcher Angelika Dimoka, head of the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University, did an experiment where she kept piling more information onto a group of volunteers, who were expected to make a decision based on what they were learning. Past a certain point, the ‘information overload’ actually caused the part of the brain responsible for making decisions (called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) to shut down.
Dimoka said: “[The volunteers] reached cognitive and information overload. They started making stupid mistakes and bad choices because the brain region responsible for smart decision-making had essentially left the building.”
So if you want to make a smart decision, gather the bare minimum of information and research you need to make an informed choice.
Myth 2: The more you know before making your decision, the happier you will be with it
This is another one of those myths that sounds like it should be true, logically, but experiments have repeatedly shown that it isn’t. In one such study, done in 2006, researchers analyzed college grads who were looking for their first job. They found that the more time and effort the grads had put into researching their company, industry, location, pay and benefits, the less satisfied they were with their decision to join a particular firm.
Sheena Iyengar, the main researcher, noted: “They knew so much, consciously or unconsciously, they could easily imagine why a job not taken would have been better…Even if they’d made an objectively better choice, they tended to be less satisfied with it.”
So when it comes to feeling like you just made a good decision, ignorance really often is bliss.
Myth 3: You shouldn’t rely on your gut reaction, when making a decision
This is one of those myths that has a speck of truth in it, inasmuch as gut reactions can often lead to impulsive decisions, which aren’t always realistic or very likely to work out. BUT, a study done by the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands found that volunteers who made a choice about which apartment to rent unconsciously did better than their peers, who spent a lot of time consciously trying to figure it out.
One of the reasons this happens is because it’s all too easy to fall into ‘information overload’, where the conscious decision-making part of your brain goes AWOL (except you don’t know that happened, and you’re still relying on your brainpower to come up with the right answer).
But the subconscious has an ability to kind of ignore a lot of the irrelevant stuff, and zoom-in on the really important aspects of a decision – if you let it.
Myth 4: Unemotional people make better decisions
This is another one of those common canards associated with decision making, but let’s go back to Angelika Dimoka, decision-making researcher extraordinaire, to find out if it’s actually true:
“If emotions are shut out of the decision-making process, we’re likely to overthink a decision, and that’s been shown to produce worse outcomes on even the simplest tasks,” she says.
So there you have it: if your emotions are included in the process, and if your gut reaction is also factored in, then you’ll have the best possible chance of coming up with the right decision, even when it’s something simple like what brand of detergent to buy.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make the right decisions, every single time, join our mailing list to get instant access to Rivka Levy’s new online course, that will teach you everything you need to know. NB: If you already signed up for the JEMI mailing list, you'll be sent the link automatically over the next day or two - so watch your inbox or promotions tab!
As we’ve been discussing in previous posts, being able to make the right decision is probably the single biggest thing that will enable you to have true peace of mind, and help you to move forward in life and have the best chances of achieving your goals and aim.
It’s hard to capture the power of a right decision ‘in theory’, so I thought I’d share some true stories with you of people who have recently seen their lives turn around, from learning how to do this.
True Story 1: Getting back to business
Sam’s last business venture flopped, leaving him pretty nervous about starting up something new. But as the bills were piling higher and higher, he realized that he couldn’t spend any more time nursing his bruises, and he had to get back to earning some money, some how. He had a few viable ideas that he’d been tossing around, and was coming closer to taking the initial steps required to kick things off – except every time he settled down to work on the business plan, he’d get such a bad attack of the shakes that he’d had to stop and go for a walk to clear his head, or take his mind off work some other way.
This continued for a couple of weeks, until he realized that the decision to start up another business was stressing him out so badly, he was literally going into ‘freeze’ mode, where his mind was blanking and his anxiety was taking over.
If this was his reaction, maybe going back into business wasn’t a good idea, and he should just try and find a regular job, instead? But a regular job didn’t give him anywhere near the same chance of earning good money, and working his own hours, like he’d been used to doing.
So what was the right decision?
As part of my methodology, I explained to Sam that his emotional brain was the part setting of the anxiety and shakes, and it had to be dealt with before any real, rational decision could be reached.
He did some easy ‘calming’ exercises to bring the blood back to his forebrain, and get him out of the fight-flight-freeze response that was being triggered each time he thought about going back into business. Then, he learnt how to have a conversation with his emotional brain, to find out what the anxiety was all about.
Long story short, Sam’s emotional brain wanted reassurance that he wasn’t going to run out of money while wasting his time chasing after a pipe dream. Once Sam realized that he had to set firm milestones this time round, and call it quits early on and go and find regular employment if he wasn’t reaching his target income by a set date, his emotional brain was reassured enough for us to move on to the next part of the decision: should he go for the business idea he now had on the table?
This is where the mind-mapping techniques he’d learnt as part of my methodology came into its own, and Sam mapped out his options in a rational way, and came to the conclusion that he needed to do a lot more homework to feel things out, before committing any big amounts of time or cash to the project.
He came up with a bunch of action points to take forward, that would help him make an informed decision on whether that particular business seemed a good option, and most importantly of all, he’d gained some crucial self-awareness about what was causing his anxiety and emotional paralysis, and how to overcome it.
True Story 2: The Big Move
Emma had recently gone through a nasty divorce where her wealthy husband had hired the best lawyer he could find, and wiped the floor with her. Emma was left with nothing, and had developed an abiding loathing for anyone or anything that reminded her of her husband, his family, or their old life together.
Although she had a good job and grown up children still in the same city, she wanted a change of scene, and was seriously contemplating making a new start, and going somewhere completely different.
But she was very torn about the decision, and was full of confusion, doubt and guilt about whether she was doing the right thing, both for herself, and for her grown up kids.
On the face of it, the decision seemed pretty simple: list all the pros and cons of the different cities she was considering and then see which one came out on top and go for it. But when there’s such a strong emotional component involved in making the decision, the rational brain actually goes offline, and you’re left with your emotional brain in the driving seat – which can often cause a lot of problems, especially if it’s making some irrational assumptions.
The first part of the process with Emma was to set out the cities she was considering moving to, and to rank them according to her own priorities for what she was looking for. Once city came out a clear winner – but Emma was clearly still unhappy with the choice, and hadn’t bought into it emotionally at all.
So what was really going on?
Again, part of my methodology is to teach people how to listen to and acknowledge their emotional brain, which is usually operating under their radar. As a result of that process, Emma discovered that a huge amount of her decision was being driven by anger, and a wish to somehow ‘get back’ at her husband and everything he represented.
By the end of the decision-making process, Emma had realized that she actually needed a break to recuperate, not a permanent move, and was feeling much more at peace and calm about taking a few months off to try somewhere new.
As a result, she was much happier about trying out the original ‘no-brainer’ choice for a new location, and was feeling much less guilty about her decision, because now she could see it was actually a necessary part of her healing process, and not just a knee-jerk reaction designed to teach her ex husband a lesson.
Sam and Emma had two very different types of big decisions to make, but in both cases and awful lot was riding on them being able to make the right decision. But here’s the thing: if you don’t understand how your emotional brain (which is making 95% of your decision unconsciously) and your rational brain (which is consciously in charge of the other 5%) are working together, or contradicting each other, it’s very, very hard to come to the right conclusion, and to feel good about your choice.
If you’re working solely on the assumptions made by your rational brain, you’ll often FEEL anxious, guilty, scared, uncertain or angry about the decisions you’re making. But if you’re going solely with your gut, your often missing out a whole bunch of necessary information and details that ensure that your decisions are realistic, workable and sensible. So you need to figure out how to get both parts of your decision-making faculties working together, and that’s what my methodology does.
I have a bunch more case studies to share with you, and I’ve included many of them in my new ‘How to Make the Right Decision, Every Single Time’ online course, which will be available online for $75.
In the next post, I’ll tell you more about how this methodology actually works, and how it can really help you, with your big life decisions. Stay tuned….