What is right heart or mind saying

Make the right decision: These tips will help you!

No decision without emotions

To understand this theory, one must first understand the scientific background. Psychological and neurological research is now unanimous: In addition to the mind that collects facts and logically weighs the pros and cons, we all have a second, unconscious decision-making system that is based on feelings. This is sometimes even superior to the cool ratio - for example in complex situations such as buying a car. Because here a multitude of variables have to be taken into account, from fuel consumption to paint to air conditioning, and this is exactly what carries the risk of getting bogged down.

Gut feeling - personal life experiences of emotions

What we commonly refer to as gut feeling, subconscious or intuition, brain researchers localize in the emotional experience memory. "This storage location in the limbic system of our brain contains a comprehensive collection of our very personal life experiences - albeit in the form of emotions and diffuse body signals," explains Storch. Because we rated every event in our life as pleasant or unpleasant and saved it together with the corresponding feeling.
"When a decision is pending, the brain automatically generates images of possible future scenarios that run like short films in front of our inner eye." These films are then compared with similar situations from our individual pool of experience - a process that takes place in a very short time and is usually completely unconscious. "If a similar scenario is found, the assessment associated with it at the time is automatically called up - and manifests itself, for example, in the form of a tingling sensation in the stomach, a lump in the throat or a liberated feeling in the chest."

Take mind and emotions into account

The American brain researcher Antonio Damasio called these signals "somatic markers" - and has shown in several studies that they are an important part of good decision-making. "From the current state of research, one can clearly conclude: People make smart decisions when they consider both their intellect and their emotions and, depending on the situation, optimally harmonize them," summarizes Storch.

Chronic indecision

And what goes wrong with chronic indecision or the tendency to make unsatisfactory decisions? "That's what we get when we don't let our emotions have their say," says Storch. When instead of paying attention to our feelings, we only use the mind. Such "brains" usually get tangled up in the weighing of countless advantages and disadvantages, arguments and counter-arguments - and thus render themselves incapable of making a decision. While these people are still brooding, they discover that the job was offered to someone else or that the partner would rather go their own way - because you could never make up your mind to marry him.


Here are three more quick tips on how you can decide on your gut!

Tip 1: be open
Do you often come up with the right answer 15 minutes late? Quick-wittedness can be learned. The trick: be open to the moment and allow mistakes.

Tip 2: change your perspective
See the world from a new perspective. Notice a funny sign? A weird phrase in a magazine? Take a picture of your observation, create a caption for it and email it to friends. In this way you can playfully familiarize your brain with unfamiliar situations and your friends have fun.

Tip 3: improvise
"To deliver a good three-minute speech off the cuff, I usually have to prepare three weeks," Mark Twain once said. Improvisation creates the best possible solution from existing possibilities. Act from the gut in areas that you know your way around well - in all others you should perhaps better prepare yourself.


Those who don't listen to their feelings are "torn"

Another The psychologist calls the problematic type of decision "the torn one". Although he perceives his somatic markers, he suppresses them and does not include them in his decisions. For example, a woman is planning a party for her 40th birthday. Actually, she just wants to invite the people with whom she will definitely have fun. And all those who are only on the guest list out of a sense of duty - for example the annoying neighbor, the hated great-aunt - simply do not inform. The woman perceives this feeling, but pushes it aside. Her mind says, "You can't do that, people will be seriously offended" - and he prevails. Although this decision may make others happy, but certainly not the birthday boy himself.

Indecision can lead to burnout

"Especially such 'torn' decision-makers have a increased risk of long-term burn-out syndrome develop, sink into a midlife crisis or into depression, "warns Maja Storch. Because at some point they inevitably ask themselves: Is that really my life? Why did my own needs hardly play a role in it?

Train decisiveness

But it doesn't have to get that far. Because We can train decisiveness and a feeling for what is good for us. "No matter what question you are tormenting yourself with: make an affect balance," advises psychologist Storch. For example, let's say you are faced with the decision: "Should I accept the job offer and move to another city?" Then imagine all the possible courses of action that occur to you - one after the other, as vividly as possible. And ask yourself specifically: "What feelings does this idea trigger in me?" For example: how do I feel when I quit my apartment and leave my friends behind? What if I take a furnished room for the time being and see how I like it in the new city? What if I cancel the job and stay where I am?

The goal is a positive somatic marker

"First of all, it is important to even perceive personal emotional reactions," says Storch. "With many undecided, that's where the main problem lies." A simple but effective visual technique with which we draw a balance of emotions can help. "The aim is that the mind and the emotional impulses ultimately come to the same assessment - that is, to find a decision that produces a positive somatic marker," explains Storch. As long as that is not the case, you should keep asking yourself: Why do head and stomach contradict each other? Did I miss alternatives? What exactly is behind my doubts? But be careful: "Such findings are no license for gut instinct," warns Maja Storch. Intuition can also lead us astray - if, for example, we cannot fall back on enough experience with similar situations and consequently have not saved a reliable collection of emotional impulses.

But if we include our head and stomach in our inner dialogue, we are basically on the right track.

Maja StorchTweet

Don't always play it safe

Gitte Härter, coach with a focus on decision-making, also starts with the basic attitude to life in order to help those who are undecided. "The human psyche has a preference for the status quo, because it is familiar, even if you are not particularly satisfied with it," said the Munich trainer. "But if you always play it safe, you will stop at some point - and fail to test your own limits."
She recommends herself once too to venture out of the personal safety zone. Which doesn't mean suddenly quitting the job and rushing into self-employment just to sound out your own willingness to take risks. But a first step can be, for example, to apply for positions that may initially seem too demanding. "Like an athlete who works long-term for a competition, we can also train our decision-making muscles," says Härter. And you should do this in advance as well. "We cannot expect that we will master the situation spontaneously when the difficult decision suddenly comes up one day."

Practice making the right decisions in everyday life

Everyday life is the ideal practice field. For example, if you prefer to wait in a restaurant until the companion has chosen and then order the same, you should consciously make your own decision before the other next time. Or when planning your next evening with friends, say clearly that you don't feel like playing board games - instead of bowing to the majority opinion again. "It's not about much in such test runs," said Härter. "But you can practice making clear decisions - and also dealing with possible negative consequences." Because it quickly becomes clear that small mistakes do not mean the end of the worldn.

There are no perfect decisions

Basically, anyone who is undecided can relax: There is no such thing as the right decision in the sense of a perfect one. We can only act to the best of our knowledge and belief - and also to the best of our feelings. However, psychologist Maja Storch cites a rule of thumb: "Decisions that do not create positive feelings and drive are usually not good either."

Typical decision mistakes

  • Either-or thinking
    You feel like you're at a fork in the road: either right or left, yes or no, for or against. In fact, in most cases there are other alternatives. Not only in terms of the possible solutions, but even in terms of the decision-making situation as a whole.
  • It's about life and death"
    The importance is inflated disproportionately. You make the decision more difficult by making your happiness in life dependent on it. For example when moving to another city: What if I've been unhappy all my life because I chose Hamburg.
  • Motivation: escape
    Instead of moving towards something - and exploring exactly where beforehand - the drive is there to get away from something as quickly as possible. This is doing yourself a disservice: You run the risk of taking the problem with you into a new situation. And there are often other ways to solve the unloved situation.
  • Wrong construction site
    The decision you are grappling with is not the one that is actually at stake, but concerns a secondary issue. Example: Someone is unhappy with their life and comes up with the idea of ​​reorienting themselves professionally. The dissatisfaction is not rooted in work, but in private life.
  • Put pressure on yourself
    Everyone knows what they want, except me! At my age you should be able to make a decision! I keep pushing everything in front of me and never come to Potte! Such an ungracious attitude towards yourself is not only unfair, it does not take you a step further. On the contrary.
  • Rags
    To quarrel with the current situation as well as with previous course-setting and decisions blocks unnecessarily. The past is over. You have chosen the path that made sense to you at the time. And nobody can look into the future.
  • The fog bomb
    It usually affects a partial aspect of the situation or a related terrain. Sometimes it's a relevant thing, sometimes just a distraction, for example when you're scared of something or looking for an excuse. Example: Your partner proposed to you. Instead of dealing with this specific question, you take refuge in philosophies about whether you are capable of relational at all.

Based on: Gitte Härter, "Yes, No, Maybe?", BW Verlag, 2005.