As human beings, when faced with decisions or choice to make, or when confronted with a situation we need to respond to, we will always make the best choice available to us. While it is the best choice available to us, it may not be the best choice available. As an adult you have many more “tools” to help you deal with the challenges in your life than you did when you were a small child. As we move through life, we develop awareness and coping skills which open up to more choices for us.
For example, a 5 year old who is faced with his or her parents getting divorced will have limited awareness and coping skills to draw on in dealing with the situation. Whereas, an adult may have many more choices available to them, on how to handle similar challenges. So while we make the best choice or decision we can at the time, that same decision may prove limiting or destructive if not updated or revised into adulthood.
In my coaching work, I have come across many people who are stuck in limiting or destructive behavioural patterns. These patterns are the result of once conscious decisions, which have now become so deeply unconscious that the person is often not even aware that they are stuck in a conditioned behaviour, and can have very negative consequences in their life.
For example, a boy may decide that boys don’t cry, and in blocking his tears might block his ability to be vulnerable and sensitive. Later in life he may not be able offer sensitivity and share intimacy with his wife. A little girl may stand up to her abusive father and refuse to acknowledge that she’s hurt. As a result she may grow into a strong woman, but this might cause her to lose her femininity and therefore lack the ability to generate passion in her relationship with her husband.
So while we make decisions every day, not all decisions are equal. Key decisions are decisions we make that impact a significant amount of our future decisions and possibilities. Key decisions can be very positive or very negative or can have some positive aspects and some negative aspects.
For example a simple decision to learn to drive will impact on a huge amount of your future decisions and possibilities. Being able to drive allows you greater independence, it opens up more career possibilities, etc…, whereas not being able to drive could impact on everything including where you have to live, where you work, your independence and therefore you self esteem.
Some choices in life are simply not possible unless we have made certain key decisions at an earlier stage. Key decisions made in early life can also have positive consequences, such as the decision to be brave, to persist, or to achieve. Yet sometimes even the most positive key decisions may result in rejecting important parts of our identity. Sometimes the key decision has only negative consequences and persists through adult life, even though it has no apparent value.
While we make decisions all the time, Key Decisions are decisions that will direct and affect all areas of our life, and usually happen when we are faced with a highly emotionally charged situation and make a decision in that moment. A decision combined with intense emotion can have deep and far reaching effects in your life.
There are four qualities that impact on the power of a key decision:
- The earlier the decision, the more powerful it will be.
- The more urgent the circumstances, the more influential the decision.
- Key decisions set a precedent to how we respond to similar situations down the road.
- Key decisions are reinforced with repetition and reward.
If you have an area of your life that you feel has been impacted negatively by a key decision that you have made…
- First try to identify the specific time and situation that caused you to make that decision.
- Then first appreciate how it served you (at that time), and then re-evaluate that decision through the insights you now have.
- Then decide to make new choices on how or what you are going to do going forward.
By revisiting your key decisions and making new choices, you can update the decision with your current level of awareness and insights and allow yourself to move forward more fully and powerfully in your life.
Gavin Lund, Co-Founder, Sterkla