6. Making an important decision (taking the opposite point of view)

December 5, 2017 in 10 Spiritual Exercises for Everyone

Making good decisions is difficult, often we are swayed by our own likes, whims and impulsive reactions such that we find it difficult to get a critical distance. Often we feel under pressure and can make quick decisions that may not turn out well.

Accordingly, the first rule of thumb is ‘play for time’, i.e. give yourself enough time as you need and resist the pressure to make a quick or hasty decision, normally there is more time than you think (often people who force others to make quick decisions use it as a tactic to get the result they want). The other rule of thumb is to weigh up the decision and see it from different angles. Take a page and divide it in 4 columns, write the pros and cons of making the decision (eg. I will quit my job; I will move to another city) in the first two columns. Try to do this as exhaustively as possible, take your time with it and come back to it after a break, also pray with it i.e. ask for divine inspiration.

Then take the opposite view and write the pros and cons of not taking the decision (e.g. I will not quit my job) in the last two columns. This can seem redundant and unnecessary but it can be very revealing. It can help bring out hidden motivations and unexpressed desires, for example, ‘I really want to quit my job because I dislike my boss’ or ‘I feel very unfulfilled in my job, I really need a new challenge’. The real reasons are often those of the heart, emotional and internal, and they have to be dug out and examined. For example, just because I dislike my boss may not be enough of a reason to give up something that is really fulfilling. Asking yourself tough questions, taking the opposite view (the devil’s advocate) and working through motivations can be helpful in getting to the heart of things.