Understanding Decision Making

Date: 8/8/2014

Three things are happening when you are make decisions.

1) Intuition. Your intuition is something that you are born with (the Gemorah says that women have more "Bina" than do men which would suggest that intuition is innate in the person).   Of course, you can develop your intuitive abilities through knowledge about the subject you have to decide on and through experience dealing with it.

Your intuition "speaks" to you through a feeling.  Many people are not consciously aware of these feelings and are unaware of what their intuition is telling them.  

2) Rational Thinking.  The second consideration can be used as a check on your intuition. For instance: Are you aware of and have you considered all of the options?   Have you thought about how this decision will affect other people in your life and other areas of your life?   . 


3) Other Factors.  Decision making would not be so complicated if it were only a synthesis of intuition and rational thinking.  However, we are influenced by a number of other elements.  These include our personal values, our beliefs about the world, our beliefs about ourselves, the opinions and actions of people we associate with and live with, our personality traits ("Middos"), etc. 

As an example, imagine you are looking to buy a home.  There are several choices you are considering.   In making such a decision there are a number of factors you would want to consider.  These might include if you can find a home that suits your needs, who are the neighbors, how convenient is it for you, etc.   Lets say you are seriously thinking about a certain neighborhood, but there is only one problem.   You don't really know anyone there.   Some of the other choices you were considering were slightly less desirable, but you had friends in those areas.

Here is an illustration how your decision making can be distorted by a false belief.    A fellow once complained to me that people in our neighborhood were unfriendly to him.   "Because I live in the neighborhood they should be my friends", he said, somewhat puzzled. Perhaps we could argue that it would be proper for people to befriend him by virtue of the fact that he lives in the same neighborhood.  However, it is not a given that this will happen and, much to his bitter disappointment, it didn't happen.  

Now let's go back to our example.   Imagine that you were approaching this decision with his belief that because you live in the same neighborhood people will automatically become your friends.   You might overlook the fact that you have no friends in that neighborhood and move there under the assumption that you will naturally make friends.  It could turn out to be a bad decision when you discover that people do not automatically gravitate towards you.   In working with people who want to improve their decision making, understanding how "other factors" are influencing them is very important. 

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For more information on Decision Making see the article "Creative Problem Solving" by clicking on the articles link.