Making a decision is a powerful mental process. In fact the word “decision” is a nominalization, the turning of a process verb into a noun. A decision is static – set in stone, unlike the process of deciding. This is an important distinction. When you decide something, you draw the proverbial line in the sand. You set a direction in stone. A decision will guide your actions in way stronger than beliefs or thoughts, because decisions will also dictate your thoughts and beliefs. And, yes, we can use this to our advantage.
Making a decision is a powerful tool. Like all tools, you can use it to build the house of your dreams, or you can misuse it and wind up cutting off your arm. Be careful what you decide. A decision is a mental lens which will help focus your thought process and lead you to appropriate action.
Here is a simple example: let’s say that you have decided to have Chinese food for dinner. What are the thoughts you will have? You will probably think about what dishes you may order, whether to take out or eat at the restaurant etc. You will probably not think about ordering a hamburger. What actions will you take? You might call and order, or drive to your favorite Chinese place. You will most likely not go to the drive through at McDonalds. This is quite a simplistic example, and may seem silly, but it illustrates a key point. Decision informs your actions mostly unconsciously while eliminating the actions that you don’t see as supporting your decision.
Contrast making a decision to considering something, or taking something into account, or thinking about something. These are important processes, but have none of the power of making a decision. If you are thinking about getting Chinese for dinner, that is very different from having made a decision to get Chinese for dinner right? When somebody says, “I’ll think about it,” that carries a very namby-pamby energy doesn’t it?
Now, how do we use this in the context of self-defense? We can decide, in advance what we will do if faced with certain threats. For example, I have decided that if the lives of my family are threatened I am going to attack the threat like a scalded spider-monkey on crack. I know enough not to pre-think what techniques, or weapons, or strategies to use – I simply know that I am going to fight with every once of ferocity I can muster and make the person or persons regret it. I have also decided that if someone points a weapon at me and tries to get me into a vehicle with them, I am going to run like hell.
I have heard stories from women who escaped rapists by deciding that the rapist would have rape them over their dead bodies – literally. At this point the women brought the fight to the rapist and escaped. I am not saying that this is a decision anyone must make or should make. You have to ask yourself if it came down to it – how hard are you willing to fight?
You can and should make new decisions when more or better data becomes available. If you drove to your favorite Chinese restaurant and it had burned down, you would have to make another decision. You should not be afraid to make new decisions if better ones present themselves. My sensei, Peter Freedman, taught me to, “never become a prisoner to your weapon.” It’s useful to think of the word weapon here loosely. When used for self defense your mind is a weapon. Never become a prisoner to your decisions, or you’ll find yourself sitting in a burned-out Chinese restaurant wondering when the waiter is going to take your order.
In life, I have found that very few people are good at making decisions due to fear of failure. They shy away from making decisions because their self esteem is so caught up in never failing at anything. Instead of making decisions you get people saying things like, “I’d like to try that … someday.” They never move beyond their comfort zone. Let me tell you that I once tripled my yearly income within a couple of short weeks merely by making a decision to move outside my comfort zone. I am not special, I merely decided a change was in order.
Like unused muscles, your decision making faculty can be brought back to life through exercise. Not ready to squat 500 pound decisions? No problem, start small. Decide, as quickly as possible, what to wear tomorrow.
I challenge you right now to decide to be happy. That’s it, merely decide that you are going to be happy. Now, if you have truly decided to be happy one of two things will happen. 1. You will take small actions to change the things you are unhappy about, or 2. You will also make the decision to be happy no matter what is going on. I prefer the latter, and it doesn’t preclude you from changing things at all. Since I prefer not to deal with negative, grumpy, try to bring everyone else down types of people, I hope you’ll accept my challenge.
One thing I have learned about really successful people is that they make informed decisions very quickly. I remember watching a show that had interviews with the friends and family members of young successful pop stars. Every single one of then said basically the same thing – that these pop stars were 100% focused on becoming successful musicians. They made a decision very early in life and it guided their actions 100%. Were there setbacks and “failures” along the way? You bet. Heck, Donald Trump’s casino declared bankruptcy – but the guy is still rich and famous.
Make a small decision right now, I don’t care what it is – decide what you are going to have for lunch. Do you feel how powerful that is. Think about what other empowering decisions you can make right now.