A Freudian technique to help you take decisions more easily
A while back, I was in a situation I wanted to get out of. However, I was unable to decide whether I wanted to wait and see if things improved eventually, or to call it quits and risk hurting other people involved.
It took me months to make that decision. In the interim, I couldn’t sleep well. I was assailed with a recurring nightmare of being a locked room slowly filling up with black, furry spiders. Half-awake, I would jump up in bed and scramble to switch on the lights to make sure I was only dreaming. It took a glass of water and several gasps of breath to make the goosebumps on my body go away.
When I finally made the decision to get out of the situation I was in, the nightmare went away. I slept better, I was happier, and although I did hurt a few other people, what I did was ultimately inevitable.
In life, we often face difficult decisions. We spend weeks and months of our precious time pondering over them. We lose sleep, compromise on our mental health and run countless scenarios over and over in our heads in the hope that exhaustive analysis would make us see the solution.
Yes, I get it. Decisions are scary. Their permanent nature makes so many people avoid making them for an entire lifetime, often locking themselves up in a shell of despair.
What if I told you there was a simple way to make difficult decisions that would not only save your time and energy, but also lead you to a happier, healthier place
There is a technique called “The Coin Toss” developed by Sigmund Freud, the inventor of psychoanalysis. Before we discuss that, we need to understand the term “unconscious”.
Here is a simple analogy to help you understand better: imagine your brain to be a dark room and your conscious mind as a spotlight that shines bright on all the things you are currently thinking about. The spotlight will shift from one thing to another as new events occur, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening in the darkness. Most of our mental processing happens in our unconscious mind.
Freud argued that no matter how much time one spends in analysing the pros and cons of a decision, our unconscious mind ultimately determines a large chunk of our choices. According to Freud, ideas and memories from childhood buried in our unconscious - a part of us that we have very little control over – ultimately shape us as human beings and influence the decisions we take.
You must have heard the popular saying – “When in doubt, sleep on it.” When Freud’s findings are considered, this might not be complete pseudoscience after all.
While we are pondering over a decision for hours upon hours, all the information is making room for itself in our unconscious mind. Thus, to save all the mental turmoil, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bring our unconscious mind’s intellectual and emotional depths to aid us?
“The Coin Toss” is a technique that does exactly this. Toss a coin as if you only get one chance. Now, don’t act on the result, but think on how the outcome makes you feel. This will force you to consider how you would feel if some external circumstances made the decision for you.
The coin toss helps you become aware of your emotions. Was it the result you had hoped for? Or did something you had been dreading happen? While the decision-making process forces our conscious mind to work, the coin flip accesses the unconscious. This is the full force of your intuition or – what millennials like to romantically call – this is what your heart is telling you.
The Coin Flip might not make a decision simple, but it helps you make a choice based on your emotional response to the outcome. It will help you get rid of your biases and bring you in touch with your true feelings.