Live Without Limits column: How to make stressful decisions without taxing your brain

Holly Woods
Live Without Limits
Holly Woods

I’ve had to make some pretty tough decisions in my life. I remember deciding whether to take a job midway through my career. It offered better pay and more flexibility to handle my small children, but it wasn’t the work I dreamed of doing. It was a hard decision and I won’t forget the struggle associated with it.

You’ve probably had a similar time in your life, where you were struggling with a big decision and feeling anxious or stressed about how to move forward. Maybe you had those agitated can’t-get-the-thoughts-out-of-my-head questions about what to do, how to proceed. Or even worse, fell into a panic about how to make the decision.

You felt alone in the enormity of the decision.

I remember having that hollow feeling in my gut when I was in the midst of the struggle, like I was anticipating a negative outcome no matter what decision I made. There seemed no “right way” out of it.

Maybe you’ve had that gut reaction, or maybe you zone out, or numb out. You dissociate your mind from your body, because it’s too hard to feel and to think about.

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Decisions seem hard because we feel we have to make them all by ourselves. We feel alone and not sure where to turn. Or you feel a wrong decision could have disastrous consequences — one “wrong turn” could mean the end of your life as you know it.

When you find yourself in this place, it’s because your ego hasn’t surrendered to the bigger picture of what’s available to help guide your life. You get stuck in your thinking brain, believing that there are logical answers to every question, if you just think about it long enough.

But this way of being does not call upon all of your natural abilities, your instinctual and spiritual intelligence.

This intelligence that lies outside of your brain can help you move forward, to make decisions big and small. And it’s available because you are connected to a bigger picture. There is an evolving cosmic structure that is more profound and purposeful than the decisions you confront that feel so overwhelming.

This connectedness includes not only you and me, but a bigger “we,” or all of us, and also includes the vast spirit of the universe that continues to unfold before our human eyes.

And the “miracle of we,” as Ken Wilber writes about it in “Integral Spirituality,” is an amalgam of the many I’s, you’s and collection of we’s that make up our planet and the vast universe, the Gaia or web of life.

Your instinctual and spiritual intelligence is not just about the God of the great spiritual traditions, no matter which religion you follow, or not, but also about the spirit that lives inside of you and between us, you and me, and all the others. The Spirit that connects us all.

Many great post-modern philosophers, spiritual teachers and scientists can agree on the vast connectedness of the universe and beyond (Meg Wheatley, Edgar Morin, A.H. Almaas, David Hawkins, Byron Katie, Fritjof Capra, William James, Daniel Goleman, to name a few). However, it is our “I” or ego that must bow and surrender to the Spirit within us, and created between the large “all of us,” to have the life we’re meant to have.

If you desire to live your best life, you must first get out of your own way. Hard decisions become easier to make when you get rid of your ego that harnesses you to the limitations of your own imagination. Learn to let your instinct and spiritual connections guide you.

Recently a spiritual coach and colleague of mine, Dr. Shayla Wright of Wide Awake Heart, shared a method she uses with her clients to access their intuitive and spiritual intelligence. Shayla suggests that you:

Sit down, close your eyes, and feel your body from the inside. Rest and forget about everything you think you know about this difficulty in your life. Then call into your awareness whatever you are struggling with or troubled about. Then ask yourself, ‘What is the heart of this?” and allow that question to drop deep into the body. Then just sit and receive whatever arises.

Notice what feelings arise, what the sensations are in your body, and what kind of thoughts are happening in your mind. Then write a brief description of how you experience yourself in this area of difficulty or suffering.

Becoming more available to your inner knowing, the intuitive and spiritual intelligence you already possess, will make it so much easier to make the hard decisions.

There are many ways to access spiritual and instinctual intelligence, including your own religion or spiritual practice. And, the ability to access these intelligences may be constrained by your limiting beliefs or perceptions of yourself.

If you want to learn more about how to get out of your own way so that you can access your intuitive and spiritual intelligence, to live your best life, contact me for a complimentary phone session. Or download the free report “Calm Your Body & Mind, Reduce Your Stress: 10 Easy Ways to Counteract Life’s Rollercoaster” at and find simple ideas for making stressful decisions easier to bear.

Holly Woods, Ph.D. helps adults who want to find hope for a life without limits and who are ready to live their best life. She works with people in-person, by skype or phone. She can be reached at 970-331-1639 or To sign-up for a complimentary phone session, visit

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