Decision making with the unconscious mind
Although our conscious decision making has limited capacity, the opposite is true of our unconscious minds. These have almost unlimited processing power and can operate in parallel. Even so, the unconscious can take time to come up with an answer, which is why sleeping on a problem or putting it on the "back burner" can be helpful.
If you're not used to using your unconscious mind to make decisions it can be a bit unnerving - it feels like not being in charge of the process. However, it's a really useful tool often used by creative people, such as composers and writers.
If you’d like to try this out, follow the steps below:
1. Get into a relaxed state without disturbances or distractions and clear your mind of irrelevant thoughts. We recognise this isn’t always easy but be assured that with practice it becomes more achievable. If distracting thoughts do arise, acknowledge them and then refocus on your breath.
2. Frame the issue as clearly as possible - vague questions will result in vague answers
3. Use a range of different sensory channels. If for instance you have lost an item you could:
- write down what item you have lost
- look at photographs of the item
- remember the sound of the item, for instance if you have lost your keys, remember the sound of them jangling or the sound of a key entering a lock
- remember the feel of the item in your hand
- visualise the item in your minds eye
Once you are ready to use this technique in a professional setting, have a read of the following steps to see how it translates into a working environment. If you're trying to choose the best candidate from an interview to work with your team, you could:
- write down the decision you are trying to make
- look at photographs of the candidates
- remember their words and the sound of their voices
- remember the feel of their handshake
- visualise each of them doing the job in your minds eye
- look at a sample of their handwriting
4. Once you've done this you can forget about it and let your unconscious take over. Don't try to continue solving the problem consciously, as that will block your unconscious mind from doing it's job
5. Often the result appears when our mind is disengaged - we might be doing something like walking, driving or mowing the lawn. The answer may come fully formed or it may be a fragment - a word, an image, a sound. If this doesn't immediately make sense gently pay attention to the fragment and more will be emerge - it's a bit like reeling in a fish on a line. Even if you get a fully formed idea it's worth making space for more to appear - often once the ideas start flowing you get a lot more than you expect!"