Imagine you're facing a major life choice-- whether to move across the country, grow your family, or quit your job and start your own business. You've talked to your friends and family, and now their conflicting opinions are battling it out in your brain. You've reached the point where you just wish someone would tell you what to do. Let that person be you! Solitude is the best way to tap into your own inner wisdom. Here is a four-step process for finding the solution that's right for you.
Meet anxiety with self-compassion.
Decision making is stressful, so it triggers anxiety-- especially when you're first sitting alone with your thoughts. "When it comes up, tell yourself, 'Of course this is stressing me out. That's normal. This is really hard!'" Treating yourself with tenderness can calm your mind and help you think more clearly.
Don't edit your thoughts. Just let your stream of consciousness flow. Writing can help you stay focused on the topic and allow you to home in on issues you might not have considered. And it is best to use pen and paper. Studies have shown that handwriting helps you engage your brain more deeply than when you are typing.
Go for a walk.
Many great thinkers, from Charles Darwin to Steve Jobs, knew instinctively what Stanford University researchers showed in a study several years ago. Your ability to think creatively improves significantly when you are moving. The Stanford study found that when people were walking, they produced twice as many creative responses on standard creativity tasks than when they were sitting.
Look at the big picture.
Being alone gives you the space and time to focus on your values and your vision of the future and that can help clarify issues you're facing in the present.