We hear so often how important it is to “follow-through” and to keep our word. Society tells us that we’re locked in after we decide and that changing our minds means that we’re unreliable or disloyal.
I don’t believe that line of reasoning because the concept is not that simple.
All humans live in some variation of a patriarchal system and one of the universal truths of the patriarchy is that it operates with the validation/shame carrot and stick duo. We receive validation when we fill our prescribed roles of spouse, parent, worker, child, and friend. That fuels our obedience. The patriarchy shames us when we make “different” choices for ourselves or when we don’t follow the rules. That fuels our self-doubt. This combination of validation and shame shows up in our lives when we make decisions.
Here’s where it gets tricky. If we are not in touch with our opinions, goals, and desires we follow others in hopes that what works for them will also work for us. Sometimes we make choices with full awareness of the information available to us and then we gain more information that changes our decision. We change and grow over time which means that we choose differently today than we did days, months, or years ago.
We get to change our minds and that’s not a problem. Too many people socialized as women feel stuck in our decisions. We feel ashamed to change our minds because we think that it means something about our character. We don’t want to let down. We dissolve into overwhelm calculating the impact of our decisions on everyone in our lives expect for ourselves. This shame, fear, and people-pleasing is the patriarchy’s way of keeping us small and compliant.
I felt this decision confusion myself recently and I got some coaching that revealed my motivation and desires. Here are a few questions that can help you tune out the patriarchy so that you can hear your own voice.
If you wouldn’t feel regret or shame, what would you pick?
If you could choose what you truly want, what would you do?
What emotion is fueling this decision? For example, do you feel urgency (fear) or calm (confidence), expansion (curiosity) or contraction (worry)?
Here are some questions that can help you choose between a few options. Fill in the blanks and see what you come up with.
What happens when I ___?
What doesn’t happen when I ___?
What happens when I don’t ___?
What doesn’t happen when I don’t____?
This is how you can disrupt the patriarchal obstruction and follow your own authority. What if changing your mind is the next right choice?