Earlier this month, I was presented with a complex set of choices, which I knew would require some time to pass before I could make a decision. Instead of mulling over these choices every day and subsequently elevating my stress level, I allowed myself to put them aside for two weeks and let my internal, subconscious process do its magic.
In actuality, my decision-making process to deal with this complexity followed these two steps —
- Detach from the situation and its outcomes by giving yourself enough time to internalize the presenting complexities. By the way, thinking about it all the time (i.e., mulling, stewing or worrying) is not detachment nor does it allow internalization to occur.
- During your ‘down’ time, take advantage of emerging opportunities for support and clarification. After a week had passed, a respected friend approached me and asked “What’s new?”, which led to us discussing my complex forth-coming decision and to evolving a next step. That next step provided me with greater clarity and simplicity as well as a decision, which literally emerged on the day of my two-week deadline.
The above illustration of emergent decision-making came about through an effortless process of remaining receptive. When events present with complex choices they usually signal we are being confronted with something new and unknown. In part, not having the experience or information (data and intuition) necessary to remove uncertainty and ambiguity makes an event or decision complex.
Herein lies the reason for giving ourselves time for intuition to interact with emergence (the process of coming into being; order arising out of chaos) in order to guide us to the right action.
Every moment in life we have a choice whether to enter life’s waters
and float, or to try to swim upstream. Osho
Although, I spent the past two weeks waiting for a decision to emerge, emergent decision-making is the antithesis to how I operated in my early career. Then, there was no time for or understanding of this process. I would initiate and manipulate events and people to move the existing agenda forward. Furthermore, I had no time for nor understanding of Life’s interconnectivity and collaboration — the very requirements necessary to allow for effortlessly going with its flow.
I made a conscious choice toward emergent decision-making primarily for the following two reasons. First — on a practical, more superficial level — collaborating with life’s emerging opportunities is effortless while striving and driving to move forward personal agendas is fatiguing. Over time, the constant effort required to swim upstream tires out the mind, body and spirit to such an extent that we can and often do become mentally ill — depressed, addicted, neurotic, psychotic, etc. Second — as Adyashanti points out — Every other motivation for movement, for action, is violent. On a deeper, spiritual level, I intend to live without harming other beings. Coercion and manipulation are harmful, violent acts.
Releasing the illusion of control by letting go of desire, goals and ambition positions us to receive Life’s unfolding events. Our limited perception often does not provide the whole picture that Life’s interconnectivity offers. When we allow ourselves to ‘passively’ receive emerging events, instead of actively girding our loins to move mountains or swim against the current, we are collaborating with Life’s flow and expending the minimum amount of energy for the maximum gain.
Interestingly, we still have choices to make. However, these choices are not about initiating in order to bend and mold but rather accepting what is in the moment and adapting ourselves to optimize the emerging experience. Releasing our need to drive and strive —a common pattern of survival — signals a willingness to stop playing our familiar roles of self-protection and seeking.
Whether you chase after love, money, or enlightenment itself, that
becomes your identity and how you are known in this world. If you
aren’t ready to lay that down, even when you find the most precious
jewel of being, you’ll sacrifice this precious jewel for the old familiar
What have you already sacrificed for the familiar illusion of security?