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​Heads or Tails

Posted by Sue Gascoyne on

Do you ever feel ‘decisioned-out’? When it feels impossible deciding even simple things like whether to have a pasta or rice salad, or watch Masterchef or Bake Off? Don’t get me wrong, choice is great, but too much choice can leave us floundering and confused. Picture a vegetarian in a vegetarian restaurant with not a hint of vegetable lasagne and literally spoilt for choice! Making the odd decision is fine but when these minor challenges arrive one after another, like waves rolling onto fresh sand, the ground can literally feel like its shifting beneath our feet. After a stint of massive, potentially life-changing decisions, and no let-up in between, I feel physically and emotionally drained.

Change is good but in order to feel safe and well we also need some stability and continuity, or at least not so much as to feel permanently on guard. So when you’ve got lots of decisions to make, be it picking fixtures and fittings for a new house, or planning a month travelling around Asia (now there’s a thought!), what technique do you favour? Do you talk it out with friends and loved ones, garnering their sometimes widely differing opinions, or make a snap decision, trusting your intuition to see you right? Do you ever resort to flipping a coin or ‘Ibble obble black bobble’, if not to actually decide the outcome, to gauge how you feel when it lands either in favour or against your innermost thoughts? There’s certainly some logic to crude approaches such as these, as your thoughts and feelings in the moment of revelation often speak volumes of your subconscious thoughts.

Then there’s a host of consensus building approaches that I have successfully used in numerous corporate or stakeholder workshops but which are often initially greeted with groans by my teenagers, even they would have to concede that they work! Or you could always analyse your dreams and their symbolism, which can sometimes feel like you’re opening a door on the distorted landscape of another world. Here again we might find our reactions to the supposed meaning of these symbols as telling as the dreams themselves, as these unwittingly show our hand in an otherwise poker-faced world.

When trying to pick a name for our first born we deliberated long and hard, taking the full 6 weeks’ time allowed to new parents to decide! Shocking as that may sound, in fairness to us we were expecting a boy not a girl and so the names we had shortlisted were redundant, and she came early when still in the midst of essential building work! Then there was the overriding need to get it right and not land her with a name that she would forever hate, as had felt my lot. To help us make this enormously important decision we canvassed opinion from friends and family on which of the names she most looked like, a futile act given that she would change unrecognizably with time! One of my favourite decision making tools was seeing what her name looked like when written down. It’s natural to focus on how well a name sounds when said or whether it trips up the tongue, but writing it down affords a different view, complete with the swirls and curls of letters. As a result of this method, both my children are endowed with names that include a plethora of ‘y’s and ‘g’s, as the shapes these letters carve undulate and flow like water or the unfurling tendrils of clematis, reaching out for something to latch onto. If my dad was still alive then his exuberant and flamboyantly large arcing letters would carve a sign writers dream (or possibly nightmare) with my children’s names!

Our final selection method came thanks to my mum, a weighty dowsing crystal on a delicate chain, which seemingly rocked back and forth in response to our questions. And so our shortlist of names, arrived at through discussion, intuition and consensus became one, when the crystal made its choice. That’s not to say that the name Pepsi or Chardonnay would have triumphed if the pendulum had chosen them, but I guess in landing on the chosen name, we knew that it was the one, or at least would serve her well until she was old enough to change it by deed poll! Because of course when making decisions rarely are we furnished with all the facts or a crystal ball to see how it will pan out, but instead we make the best decision that we can given the circumstances, a procrastinators nightmare!

And so returning to the epic decisions that have been keeping me up at night, its time me thinks to bring out my mums trusty crystal pendulum, being sure to ask the right question, if only I knew what that was!

  • change
  • transformation
  • handwriting
  • children's names
  • decision making

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