On Being Remotely Human #4: 7 Tips To Improve Your Decision-making

Text and graphic design by Werner Schmidt  | Photo by AndriyKo Podilnyk on Unsplash  | Soundtrack, Autumn Leaves (arr.) by John Smit from SoundSphere Productions

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In this article, a serene Sunday morning gets tainted by a client crisis, financial anxiety, and junior domestic violence (kids going Lord Of The Flies).
We often feel unfulfilled, we literally feel half before decisions – before learning new skills, deciding what to do while locked down by a virus, before phoning a new person.
Get ideas to accept your current moment, commit to pivoting to constructive action, by activating your wholeness in this piece.
#GrowInGratitude #123CY

Once upon a time …

… in a village, at the edge of the world, a half-girl was born, and you can find the video, audio and text version of The Half-Girl Story here.

The sounds of silence?!

Sunday morning + #LockDownSouthAfrica Day 3 = garden birds on steroids! Man, they were loud.
How loud was the silence! Not a car, nor a plane. Not even the 8am train. Breakfast happened, maize pap, tomato and onion relish, with scrambled eggs. Coffee. Ahh … I planned a few less tasks than I normally would, to give myself that easy week-end feeling. Sat down in front of my laptop, the keyboard welcomed my fingers, and then …

A stress-filled conversation

A client let me know that she will not be able to pay. As a single mother and commission-earner, she withdrew all her funds into a savings account, as her employer announced shutdown, compulsory leave (unpaid leave, in my client’s case), and their uncertainty about the way forward. Sounded like the perfect storm. Two things happened, simultaneously:
I felt for my client, her situation and wanted to help her in any way possible.
I experienced anxiety about my own financial flows – one less client payment, hopefully only for this month – could this become a trend? 

While attempting to help my client make plans, some domestic violence occurred under our roof. Child Number 1 hit Child Number 2 with a tray, leading to a battle, as further violence erupted. I intervened and administered discipline, time-out in bare corners of the house, as many minutes as the age of each beloved terrorist – this meant my wife and I could look forward to 8-10 minutes of peace. So, we put on the kettle.

Sipping on my honeybush rooibos tea

I noticed how unfulfilled I felt, I literally felt half, like the protagonist in The Half-Girl Story. This story certainly is one of my favourites. A hero’s journey which so often happens in our own lives. We face uncertainty – new skills to learn, lockdown due to a virus, a new person I need to contact, etcetera. The uncertainty about the unknown is like the deep, dark, coffee-coloured river, in the story. Eventually we accept our inner conflict – that battle between our need for security and adventure – jump in and come out whole, having learned the skill, adapted to lockdown and the virus, successfully contacted the new person. So often the most important decision we need to make is to dive into an activity or process, and trust ourselves to grow another layer of learning.

I reflected on how many tips I received over the past decade or so, to switch on my own wholeness, in my quest to make more good decisions, more of the time. What do I mean by wholeness? I simply mean that state where I feel empowered to take on the challenges of my day, and more specifically, the challenge presented by the moment right in front of me. In the particular moment of my Sunday morning, that challenge was to accept and transcend the anxiety I had experienced with my client, and the frustration/anxiety I had experienced with my kids’ fighting, both of which made me less likely to take constructive action and more likely to wallow in fear-filled rumination. After achieving this, I could allow myself to experience the serenity of the cool, tranquil Sunday.

7 Tricks/hacks I have brought into my repertoire, 

over the years, to activate wholeness, which you may try out, to see if it activates a can-do state of high performance for you:

  1. Draw a picture of a childhood memory, with your non-writing hand, then tell the story of the picture to someone (Dorian Haarhoff, writing mentor and friend, gave this gift to me, during one of his wordshops).
  2. Practice writing the letters of the alphabet with your non-writing hand, first block letters, then cursive, then words, then sentences. How about a quick morning journal exercise with your non-writing hand? How about a new daily micro-habit?
  3. Mirror writing. Use a writing utensil in each hand, with two A4-sized pages before you. Write from the middle of the two pages, mirroring what your writing hand is doing, with your non-writing hand.
  4. Play a ball game, solo or with others, using your non-dominant hand and foot to participate.
  5. Do your morning chores with your non-dominant hand, have patience when brushing your teeth!
  6. Get dressed, make breakfast, morning beverages etcetera with your non-writing hand
  7. Skip and jump outside, or in your living room/office. It is impossible to stay stuck in a moment while skipping.

My two favourites have been integrated into my performance career –
Story-telling while djembe-drumming.
Singing songs while playing guitar, and using my feet for percussion: left foot for kick drum and right foot for kick tambourine.

Why don’t you try some of these, 

when you feel overwhelmed or get stuck in a moment, to see whether you could integrate them into your daily routines, including work and recreational activities?

After activating my favourite wholeness hacks

I could begin to experience the magic of our Sunday, just in time for sunset, garden birds on steroids, and a game of UNO! with my family.

 

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