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How to Make a Hard Decision

Do you sometimes get stuck on decision making? While it’s great to have options, there is a hidden burden: the responsibility of actually making a choice! Whether you’re trying to choose between two jobs, two romances, or even two vacation destinations, it’s normal to realize that there are great qualities about both options– and this can make it hard to decide. As a clinical psychologist, I can assure you that thinking carefully make sense up to a certain point, but taking too long on any one particular decision can lead to fatigue, frustration, and poor decisions. Thank goodness there is an easy technique to help with decision making!

The Toggle Technique

The toggle technique is good for important decisions where you feel stuck between two options. You’ve done a pros/cons list, you’ve thought about both options carefully, and you’re still unsure. Sometimes we need to get beyond the intellect and into our “gut feeling” to make the best choice. Here’s how:

1. Get Centered: Find a quiet space and do a couple of deep breaths to warm up. Close your eyes to block out distractions.

2. Dive In: Imagine that you’ve totally committed to one of your choices– we’ll call that choice Option A for the sake of simplicity. For about thirty seconds, silently pretend that you’ve decided to choose Option A. Notice how it feels in your body. For example, do you feel a sinking sensation in your stomach? Or a positive, energized feeling that’s more like butterflies in your stomach?

3. Toggle: Once you have explored how Option A feels, mentally toggle over to Option B and pretend for approximately thirty seconds that you’ve chosen this option. Notice how it feels emotionally, and notice if you have any bodyfelt reactions. For example, do you feel a warm, uplifted feeling in your chest or a sense of bristling and tightening in your chest?

4. Go with your gut: Compare how it felt to choose each option, and give yourself permission to choose the one that really felt best on an emotional and body-felt level. Many times, clients in my practice who are struggling with an important choice are surprised to see how much easier it is to choose when they allow themselves to see how they actually feel about the choices.

The Toggle Technique works best when you have analyzed a situation intellectually but you’re still not sure which one really feels best. It is not a replacement for doing a pros/cons list, talking choices over with trusted sources of support, or doing other research to help you understand your options. The unconscious mind and/or the body often feel things that our intellect can’t quite grasp. Your reactions to the toggle technique can help you to access the intuitive part of yourself. The Toggle Technique frees you from “analysis paralysis” and gets you in touch with the choice that is really right for you. Why not give it a try? It only takes a moment, it’s free, and it has worked for many clients in my practice: saying yes on the Toggle Technique is an easy choice to make!


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