Our society is full of information that tells us what to think, how to feel and what to do. You needn’t look beyond our 24-hour news channels to see this. They provide very little news and a whole lot of commentary. This helps to perpetuate a well-designed narrative of fear, lack and scarcity by keeping our focus outside of ourselves as we search for answers and validation. At the same time, the intuitive and emotional aspects of our inner world are devalued and often ignored. Our decisions can become a consequence of external input that leaves us open to manipulation and complacency. Ultimately, we have been fed a collective story that we haven’t fully scrutinized or felt into. Being able to draw on both our reasoned mind and our inner wisdom is an important part of creating a new story that isn’t just a result of our enculturation. So how can we make more balanced and conscious decisions? Well, we blend prudence with awareness.

How To Not Find What You Are Looking For

The Internet (and media in general) is immense and filled with all types of ideas, opinions, agendas and the occasional fact. No matter how crazy your line of thinking, you can always find someone who will agree with you. There are facts to support even the most inane of positions. (Search smoking is good for you and you’ll see what I mean). So if you are faced with a decision or wanting to explore something more thoroughly, first look for facts or position that counters your belief. This is the best way to temper your pre-conceived notions. Many of our ‘facts’ are just our beliefs in hiding. We are inherently biased, so if we seek out people and positions that are contrary to our own, we have the opportunity to challenge what we think and feel on a regular basis.  Once you have thoroughly explored the other sides of an issue, then seek out your choir. This is a great system of checks and balances.

Know the Source

Everybody has an agenda, including you. There is no such thing as purely unbiased information. Having been an avid listener of talk radio for more than a decade, I know that for every idea you have on something, you can bet that there are 100 other people who have the exact opposite view. This is not a bad thing. It is this that makes our world interesting. A rich array of ideas and opinions that have the opportunity to challenge and stretch us. If you feel triggered, explore why. Not from a place of anger, resentment or fear, but from the playful why. “Hmmm, that’s interesting. I wonder why….” This is how we grow. When being a conscious decision maker, we have to consider the source of the information that we are forming our beliefs, values, and opinions on. If you want to know where someone is coming from, research them and their beliefs. Do they have integrity? Are they accountable for the information they are sharing? Whose story are they telling and why?

What is Truth?

What do we know as truth? This is a big question. Where do we derive the information that ends up in our textbooks and taught in our educational institutions? What ends up in the headlines of the media outlets? Primarily these ‘truths’ are all consequences of our research and often are only conveyed as truth by the media. This is where our linear, logical thinking gets to flourish, but in that there are limitations. We create boxes in which to study things. We factor out as many of the variables to look at one or two items. Does this drug have an effect; does this process change the way we learn etc.? All of these are wonderful questions to ask, but in real life, we are dynamic and multi-faceted. We are the variables embodied. So be prudent and do your research. See what it has to say, but know there are more layers to understanding something than just what can be shown in a research environment. Research is great at telling the story of a population, but not as good at telling your story.

Use Different Media Formats

We live in a very exciting technological time. We have access to vast amounts of information that is presented to us in multiple media formats. Utilize them. Watch a documentary, listen to the radio or a podcast, read a book or search the Internet. This gives us an opportunity to understand a topic with all of our senses, sometimes a simple image can convey a message better than a table of numbers or an article. Also, have an awareness of how you like to learn. This allows for better comprehension and assimilation of information. Seek out non-mainstream media outlets, to broaden your view. Listen to opposing opinions that challenge and stretch you. They may or may not change your mind, but they can change your heart. Practice compassion while you learn, allow yourself to open up to new possibilities and ideas. See if you can understand their worldview and why they feel the way they do. Tune into the emotions that arise while exploring them. Emotions can be powerful teachers. They help us uncover our core beliefs and connect us to our body wisdom.

Hold it in Your Heart

I suggested this to someone the other day that had a big medical decision to make. He had done all of his research, knew exactly what treatments statistically had the best outcomes. I told him to take all of that knowledge and hold it in his heart. He looked at me like I had three heads and asked, “Why would I want to do that?” My answer was, “You are an intelligent being, but not all of that intelligence lives in your mind”.

Humans are a beautiful blend of the known and the unknown. The mystical and the measurable. It makes sense that our decisions should be of the heart and the head. It is a challenge to release yourself from your ego, from your beliefs and from what you are told is truth. Each of us must find our own truth, or at the very least understand our worldview. This has less to do with facts and more to do with awareness. It is our multi-sensory nature that can help us to filter through all the external noise. As we become more conscious decision makers, we can look at our own decisions, understand why we make the choices we make and how those choices are contributing to a world that is out of balance. We’ve made the external world more valuable than our own inner wisdom. It isn’t an either/or proposition. Our decisions and behaviors should be a balance of prudence and awareness. Our new collective story has to be written with both.