What baby feet and St. Anthony have to do with making decisions

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We can’t agree where to live. So settle this for us. Where should we live?

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We all think that the process of decision making is not only our own but fairly straight forward. We look at the decision that needs to be made, anticipate some likely outcome, weigh them against each other and then make the decision and then go from there. In some ways it is quite simple because we have made zillions of decisions over our many years of being alive. The majority , if not most, had very little thought at all. But in truth the process is much more interesting than that. 

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N and C were a young couple in the sweet throes of young love. N did most of the talking. As they sweetly batted eyes at each other they explained that they were in still in college but graduating soon and they were pretty sure they would be getting married. But their sticking point was where to live.

C is a singer/songwriter and N is an aspiring film maker. N feels like for his career to start he needs to go to LA and C feels like her singing career needs to be in New York. They have talked about it every which way and have come to no agreement.

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The decisions that we make are indeed made ultimately but there are a number of voices that can chime in and allow the decision to go forward. Some internal voices that weigh in on potential decisions are the voice of practicality,

  • the voice of greed
  • the voice of sloth
  • the voice of fear
  • the voice of action
  • the voice of anger
  • the voice of longing
  • the voice of passion…

of course there are many others. Because we can’t reasonably use all of them for every decision we have streamlined the process. We have a few voices that we like and trust and that we use frequently in most decisions or at least particular types of decisions. There is nothing bad about this but it simply means that we end up leaning on the same advisors so we get similar outcomes. It also means that we leave out many voices. When we hit sticking points we are so practiced at asking and hearing the same voices within us that we hardly know what to do. It is as if we suddenly were forced to write with our toes – none of us are practiced at that.

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I asked them a bit more about their arguments and defenses of their respective positions in the process I noticed a slim gold chain around N’s neck. There was a pucker near the collar of his shirt where a pendant would be but what it was remained unknown. But it looked like the sort of chain that was intentionally put there. It wasn’t decorative, it meant something. It had something on it that I needed to listen to. So I turned the conversation on the proverbial dime:

Are you religious?

N said he was a lapsed Catholic. I asked if he had any lingering connection to the faith of his youth. He thought and said that he had always loved Saint Anthony.

Saint Anthony is most well known for being the patron saint of lost or misplaced things and travelers but also he is a patron saint of marriage in Brazil and Portugal. N knew the first part but not the marriage part. C liked the idea that her boyfriends favorite spiritual figure was somehow looking over them.

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Writing with your toes may not be really practical but generally we are pretty disconnected from our feet. We wear shoes with thick soles that cut off any possibility of dynamic reaction to the earth. Babies have these wonderfully articulated toes where even the little toes can stretch all by itself. For most adults toe articulation and full foot sensitivity is long gone from a lifetime of wearing shoes with chunky heels, thick cushioning and support straps. Our feet hardly have had a chance to be feet and do what they do – adjust, grip, spread out.  It is the same with our unused and unheard inner voices. We have dulled our relationship to them and so they virtually atrophy. We have lost something that we should have.

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I was excited that a new possibility suddenly seemed open to their question. I told N that since he and C had gone back and forth with little change that perhaps adding a third point into the discussion might open up new possibilities.

I encouraged N to set up a little shrine to Saint Anthony and start regularly asking him for guidance on where they should go. Just start asking and don’t assume the answer will be one of the two choices. Accept that there might be a few steps involved and see what Anthony says back.

N was reticent for a moment and said that he hadn’t prayed in years. I told him that he wasn’t praying – just asking for guidance or advice. He saw the difference and said

It can’t hurt can it? It has been a long time since I had a chat with Saint Anthony. Just talking to you made me remember how much he meant or means to me.

C said

Maybe he’ll say to just propose already!

And that was that. The two thanked me and walked away with fingers entangled.

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Asking for help from Saint Anthony while sitting at a little make shift shrine is a small way to start to reconnect with a lost or exiled voice within N. It is a voice that he, by his very own admission, was one that he hadn’t heard in a long time. Creating a small ritual space can help to allow any of us to summon one of these different forgotten voices within us. They are worth calling on because we haven’t heard from them in so long that what they say can  be quite surprising. When are surprised we are open…and when we are open all sorts of things can be seen and all sorts of things can happen.

What voices have you forgotten to listen to?

If you think a conversation or a creative approach like this could be of use to you where you are now…

please book a session with me today.

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1 comments
deninno
deninno

I like what you said about using familiar voices. Some of these behaviors are taught to us at a very young age. We are taught to stay within a set of a rules, so the moment we set away from that and do something different suddenly we are outcast. I agree with staying open to possibilities, and leaving the door open to what the universe has in store for us. When we go and try something different to solve things after awhile this too becomes familiar, and we just need to remember to be patient and good to ourselves in the process.

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