Hesitation is a natural part of being human. It can be a response to fear, uncertainty, or lack of confidence and sometimes, hesitation can be a good thing, giving us the time we need to make wise decisions.
But it can be challenging to tell when you're hesitating out of fear or intuition.
Here's a little fun (or maybe not so fun) exercise you can do for yourself....
Think back to all the times you have hesitated in your life.
Write those down in dot points one under the other and then add two columns next to that list. One indicating the positives (intuitive led decision making) and in the other, the negative outcomes (decisions based on fear) due to hesitating in those moments.
What did you find?
Did you miss out on incredible opportunities or were you dodging bullets? Maybe a little of both...?
In this piece, I will briefly explore the role of hesitation in decision making, how intuition can help us make better decisions and how to cultivate stronger intuition.
Me - missed the bus...or did I? Pic by Steve Smith
One way to understand the difference between good and bad hesitation is to consider the role of intuition. Intuition is a form of implicit knowledge that we rely on to make quick decisions without conscious reasoning.
It is often described as a gut feeling or a sense of knowing that lies within all of us. Intuition can help us to make good decisions quickly and with confidence, but it can also lead to hesitation if we don’t trust it.
On the other side of the coin, fear is a common cause of bad decision making hesitation. Fear can prevent us from taking action even when we know it is the right thing to do.
Research has shown that hesitation can be influenced by a number of factors, including personality, cognitive biases, and the social context in which decisions are made. For example, a study published in the journal Psychological Science found that people who were more risk-averse tended to hesitate longer before making a decision, even when there was no clear advantage to waiting.
Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that people were more likely to hesitate when they were presented with multiple options, even if one of the options was clearly the best choice.
When based on fear, here are some examples where hesitation can have a negative impact:
When faced with important decisions, you may hesitate to make a choice because you're unsure about the potential outcomes. Yet, delaying a decision for too long can lead to missed opportunities and increased anxiety.
In social situations, you may hesitate to speak up because you're afraid of what others may think or say but failing to speak up can lead to missed opportunities for connection and personal growth.
When faced with a difficult task or goal, you may hesitate to take action because you are unsure of your abilities or are afraid of failure. Though, delaying action can lead to missed opportunities and a lack of progress.
You may hesitate to seek help when you're struggling with a problem or challenge because you're afraid of being seen as weak or vulnerable. However, failing to seek help can lead to prolonged suffering and a lack of progress.
You may hesitate to trust others because you've been hurt or betrayed in the past. Nevertheless, failing to trust can lead to missed opportunities for meaningful connections and support.
Any of these sound familiar?
Fear can be a powerful emotion, and it can be difficult to overcome. Still, research has shown that taking small steps and facing our fears gradually can help us to build confidence and overcome our hesitations.
For example, a study published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy found that exposure therapy, which involves gradually facing and overcoming our fears, can be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders.
Similarly, a study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety by increasing activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and managing stress.
Much research has also been done on the use of psychedelic mushrooms and other similar substances used to help end of life patients take the fear out of their imminent mortality.
While there is growing evidence that listening to frequency music with specific intentions can reprogram your mind from negative patterning and help eliminate trauma stored in the body.
These findings demonstrate that while fear and hesitation may sometimes hold us back, there are ways we can overcome them and cultivate a deeper sense of inner peace and well-being.
Intuition can also be influenced by our emotions.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who were more in touch with their emotions were better at using their intuition to make good decisions.
I didn't want to just provide you with negative examples, so here are some situations where hesitating because you're listening to your gut can be a good thing:
You receive a job offer that seems too good to be true. Everything looks great on paper, but you have a nagging feeling in your gut that something isn't right. Instead of immediately accepting the offer, you hesitate and take some time to listen to your intuition. You may do some additional research or ask for more information from the company. This hesitation can ultimately lead you to make a more informed decision and avoid a potentially negative situation.
You're presented with an investment opportunity that promises high returns, but again, something just doesn't feel right. Instead of jumping in and risking your money, you hesitate and take some time to listen to your intuition. You may do some additional research, consult with a financial advisor, or simply wait for more information before making a decision. This hesitation can ultimately protect your financial well-being and prevent you from falling prey to a scam.
You're invited to a social event where you don't know many people, but you feel weird about attending. You could push yourself to go, but instead, you listen to your intuition and choose not to. This hesitation can save you from an uncomfortable situation, and may even lead you to find a more enjoyable social event that aligns better with who you are and what you like.
You're considering entering into a romantic relationship with someone who seems perfect on paper, but again, your intuition is telling you something isn't quite right. You hesitate and take some time to listen to your intuition, perhaps by reflecting on past relationships or talking to a trusted friend or therapist. This hesitation can prevent you from getting into a relationship that isn't healthy or fulfilling, and can ultimately lead you to find a more compatible partner.
It can be difficult to tell whether hesitation is based on things we are fearful of or if it's due to a gut feeling but the good news is, you can train your intuition like you would train a muscle at the gym.
The more you take steps to quiet your mind, the more you'll be able to tell if a feeling is coming from your mind/ego (fear) or your heart/gut (intuition), the stronger your ability to tell what's what.
Let's not be afraid to take risks, to step outside our comfort zones, and to embrace all that this world has to offer. For when we learn to trust in our intuition and follow our hearts, we open ourselves up to a world of infinite possibilities and limitless potential.
So go forth, my peeps, and let your intuition guide you on your journey, for it is the key to unlocking your true purpose and contentment.