Making decisions – should we rely on facts or on our intuition?

Suffolk sunset

Suffolk sunset

We live in the information age.  Facts and figures are available to us at the drop of a hat.  Fitbits and other devices monitor our wellbeing, our heartbeat, our level of activity and the calories we eat.  Most of us know how much we weigh, what our Body Mass Index (BMI) is and whether our cholesterol is low or high.  We may have a pretty good idea about our blood pressure too – high or low?  Most of us know.  We are bombarded with information about keeping fit, eating the right food, drinking the right things and the right amount, exercising correctly for our age and managing our stress and anxiety. 

In this age of online information we may feel the need to validate every decision we take – which diet will work for us?  Are we exercising enough?  Or are we over-doing the exercise and injuring ourselves?  Should we be looking for another job?  What’s the best time to move house?  What colour should I paint the hall?  We look to the outside world for a view, a prompt, a trend, an affirmation that we are doing the right thing and making the right decision. 

As a coach I spend time with people and help them find answers to their problems.  I listen to them and ask them questions.  I encourage them to reflect on where they are, the challenges they face, what their goals are and how they might move closer to achieving these goals.  I don’t provide the answers.  That’s not my role.  My role is to help each of my coachees to unearth information and to use the decision-making powers they already have.  I prompt them to identify gaps in their knowledge and help them to find ways of filling those gaps so that the decisions they make are sound.  It’s a wonderful job and my clients feel empowered by the process.  And sometimes they find it challenging too.  Taking a hard look at experiences, which we have had, and considering when we felt good and successful aren’t easy.  However that’s where the learning lies.

I was recently looking for some inspirational quotes for the New Year.  Alongside my coaching I teach yoga and it’s sometimes useful to share some insights with my groups and my one-to-one yoga and coaching clients.  So I had a look and came across a wide-ranging selection from authors, entrepreneurs and public speakers.  And I also came across one from Eileen Caddy, one of the founders of the Findhorn Foundation. 

The Findhorn community was established in the 1962 and generated great interest in the 1970s and 1980s as people started to tune into the Findhorn philosophy of listening to their inner voice and living in an eco-friendly community.  One of the founder members of the community was Eileen Caddy and I came across this quote from her:

"Never at any time close your heart and mind.  Never be afraid of the new, of the strange, of the unconventional.  Be ready and prepared to listen to the intuition, to inspiration which may reveal something so completely new to you that it may not even have form or substance, and you may have to clothe it in words.  Intellectual pride can be a handicap along this spiritual path and can be a real stumbling block to the truth.  It is not the intellect you need; it is inspiration and intuition.  The intellect comes from without, whereas inspiration and intuition come from within and cannot be influenced by anything without.  Let your learning come from within; draw from all that you have within you.  You will be amazed at what you contain.”

Eileen drew a comparison between that which is external to us and which we can study, reflect on and absorb and she contrasts it with what our intuition tells us.  By tuning into ourselves and taking time to reflect on what we know, we can form a view of what is right for us.  We can absorb facts, figures, information and opinion and then make our own decisions.

So drawing on our inner knowledge means that we are not swayed by trends and fads – though we may be aware of them.  Trusting our intuition and backing it up with a few well-curated facts and figures can be a good move.  Recognising that not everything can be planned in minute detail and that some things will come upon us unexpectedly is worth recognising.  Cutting ourselves a bit of slack to do something spontaneous and out of character is sometimes a healthy option.  And having the courage to stand by the decisions we make is important.  A decision can only be made at the time we make it.  Perhaps it’s better to make a decision and move forward than to sit in limbo?

For more information about the Findhorn Foundation go to where they have a quote for the day.

Izzy Ixer,  Blue Pebble Coaching Ltd