Human beings have six ways of making decisions:
  • Instincts
  • Subconscious beliefs
  • Conscious beliefs
  • Values-based
  • Intuition-based
  • Inspiration-based
Instinct-based decision-making

Instinct-based decision-making takes place at the atomic/cellular level, because the actions that arise are based on learned DNA responses, principally associated with issues of survival. For example, babies instinctively know how to suckle; how to cry when their needs are not being met; and how to smile so they can get the attention they need. No one taught them how to do this. This is encoded in their DNA.

In adult life, instinct-based decision-making kicks in to help us survive and avoid dangerous situations. It is also at the root of the fight or flight response common to all animals. In certain situations, our instincts may cause us to put our life at risk in order to the save the life of another. Instincts are the principal mode of decision-making found in all creatures. The main features of instinct-based decision-making are:

  • Actions always precede thought—there is no pause for reflection between making meaning of a situation, and decision-making.
  • The decisions that are made are always based on past experiences—what our species history has taught us about how to survive and keep safe. These instructions are encoded in the cellular memory of our DNA.
  • We are not consciously in control of our words, actions and behaviours. They are in control of us.
  • Instinct based-decision is a faculty of the body-mind. The body-mind is where we keep the “institutionalised” DNA memories that keep our physical body safe and secure.
Subconscious belief-based decision-making

In subconscious belief-based decision-making we also react to what is happening in our world without reflection, but on the basis of personal memories rather than the institutionalised memories of our cellular (DNA). In this mode of decision-making action also precedes thought. The action is often accompanied by the release of an emotional charge.

You know when subconscious fear-based beliefs are dominating your decision-making if you feel impatient, frustrated, upset or angry. Whenever you experience such feelings, you are dealing with some unmet ego deficiency needs that have never been resolved. Your reactions and emotions are being triggered by a present moment situation that is making you recall a memory about an unresolved situation from the past when you failed to get your needs met.

When you experience positively charged emotions such as joy, and happiness, you are remembering moments from your past where you felt supported in meeting your deficiency needs.

Subconscious beliefs show up as learned reactions to situations which support us in keeping safe. It takes hard work (personal mastery) to modify or change our subconscious beliefs. The main features of subconscious belief-based decision-making are:

  • Actions always precede thought—there is no gap for reflection between making meaning out of the situation and the decision-making that precipitates an action.
  • The decisions that are made are always based on past experiences—what your personal history has taught you about maintaining internal stability and external equilibrium in the framework of existence of your childhood. This history is stored in our personal memory.
  • We are not in control of our actions and behaviours. In this mode of decision-making the only way we can get back into conscious control of your actions is either to release or bottle-up your emotions. Releasing helps us to return to rationality. Bottling-up builds up pressure.
  • It is very personal. Others are not consulted to help us enhance our meaning-making and give support in our decision-making.
Conscious belief-based decision-making

Our rational mind (neocortex) uses conscious beliefs to make decisions. Conscious beliefs show up as learned responses to situations which support us in meeting our  survival, safety and security needs.

Unlike our subconscious beliefs, which are hardwired into our brains, when we are using our conscious beliefs we can insert a pause between the event and our response to it. The pause allows us time for reflection so we can use logic to understand what is happening, and make a choice about how to respond.The main features of conscious belief-based decision-making are:

  • Thought precedes action—we insert a pause between an event and our response to it so we can use logic and get advice in order to determine the best way of meeting our needs.
  • The decisions that are made are based on past experiences and what your personal history has taught you about maintaining internal stability and external equilibrium in your childhood and adulthood. We make decisions based on what we believe we know.
  • We are in control of our action and behaviours.
  • We can consult with others to support and enhance our decision-making.

Conscious belief-based decision-making has one thing in common with subconscious belief-based decision-making: it uses information from the past (beliefs about what we think we know) to make decisions about the future. Because of this, the future we create is usually only an incremental improvement on the past.

Values-based decision-making

We use our values to make decisions when we encounter complex situations which we have never experienced before. Since the situations are new to us, we have no learned beliefs to help us reach a decision, consequently, we rely on our values.

The shift from conscious-belief based decision-making to values-based decision-making is not easy. We have to individuate (find out who we are outside of our parental and cultural conditioning), and become independent—establish ourselves as a viable, independent individual in our framework of existence before values-based decision-making is fully and naturally available to us. The process of individuation involves examining and letting go of the beliefs that no longer serve us--the beliefs that keep us dependent. As we let go of these beliefs, we develop a new guidance system based on our deeply held values—the values of the soul. When you shift to values-based decision-making, you can effectively throw away your rule books. Every decision you make is sourced by what is deeply meaningful to you.

Values-based decision-making allows us to create a future that resonates deeply with who we really are. It creates the conditions that allow authenticity and integrity to flourish. That is not to say there is no longer any place for conscious belief-based decision-making based or logic and rational thinking in our lives. There is. However, all the critical decisions we need to make should pass the values test.

The main features of values-based decision-making are:

  • Thought precedes action—we reflect on the values that we believe will allow us to get our needs met and make decisions accordingly.
  • The decisions that are made are not based on past experiences. They are based on our feelings and the future we want to create.
  • We are in control of our action and behaviours.
  • We can consult with others to support and enhance our decision-making.
Intuition-based decision-making

The shift from values-based decision-making to intuition-based decision-making develops overtime once the centre of gravity of your consciousness has shifted from your ego to your soul. Intuition allows us to access our own deeper intelligence, and the collective intelligence of a wider group.

We reach this level of consciousness after we have aligned our ego motivations with our soul motivations and have become a self-actualized individual. The principal characteristics of intuition-based decision-making are as follows:

  • Awareness is expanded through a shift in our sense of identity/consciousness.
  • Judgment is suspended: no meaning-making takes place, either subconsciously or consciously.
  • The mind is empty: thoughts, beliefs and agendas are suspended. You are living in the present moment.
  • The mind is free to make a deep dive into the mind-space of the collective unconscious, and emerge with a deep sense of knowing.

Beliefs lead to decisions based on past experiences. Values lead us to decisions based on the positive feelings we want to experience now and in the future. When we are totally present to a situation without judgment, we create the conditions that allow our minds to tap into the collective mind-space, and our intuition informs us of what wants or needs to emerge.

Inspiration based decision-making

Inspiration is sourced from our soul-driven promptings. It is always very personal and directive. It is about what you need to do now or in the near future. It is a persistent thought that will not go away. It will keep prompting you to take action until you do something about it. The purpose of inspiration is to support you in fulfilling your soul purpose.

Inspiration is different to intuition. Intuition is non-directive. Intuition is an idea or insight that seemingly arises from nowhere that either leads you forward in your life or provides a solution to a problem that you may not even be aware of. Intuition can best be described as a “eureka” moment, whereas inspiration is best described as guidance for staying in a state of “flow.”

When you keep receiving soul-driven persistent thoughts about an action or direction you need to take, and you do not follow your soul’s directive, there will be emotional consequences, usually in the form of melancholy or depression.

Depression arises from a lack of alignment of your ego motivations with your soul motivations—when the needs of the ego are given precedence of the needs of the soul. The principal characteristics of inspiration-based decision-making are as follows:

  • The thought appears to arise from nowhere.
  • The thought is persistent.
  • The thought is linked to actions that you need to take in the near future.
  • One of the consequences for not following your soul’s inspiration is depression.