Many years ago, sitting in a workshop room in Oregon, I listened as the workshop leader told us that human beings have 4 powers: the power to think, to feel, to decide, and to act. I wasn’t so sure about that. I thought, “Isn’t the power to decide just part of the power to think?”
But over the years, I’ve seen the wisdom in what he said. I’ve concluded that, while it arises out of both thinking and feeling, deciding is indeed a separate power. It requires will, both to decide and to put that decision into action. We may have many thoughts and feelings about something, but until we take the next step and decide what we want to do about it, we can’t move into action.
Differentiating our 4 powers this way also gives us more clarity on how to use each power. For instance, as we’re thinking and feeling, we’re gathering information. When we move on to deciding, we’re using all the information we’ve gathered from our thinking and feeling.
One mistake many of us make is that we confuse having a feeling with making a decision. We have a feeling, we mistake it for a decision, and then we act on it. But a feeling is not a decision. A feeling is the way our body-mind communicates with our conscious mind. It’s the language our body uses when it’s trying to tell us something. So we need to listen for the information contained in our feelings, but we also need to remember that a feeling is not a decision.
The same is true of our thoughts. A thought is not a decision. It may contain important information that we want to consider when making a decision, but having a thought is not the same thing as making a decision.
So remember -- you have 4 powers: thinking, feeling, deciding, and acting. Be aware of which one you’re using at the moment, and don’t mistake having a thought or a feeling for making a decision.
I love this distinction between feeling and deciding, thinking and deciding. Between them is the space to take myself off of auto pilot, to interrupt a pattern of reaction due to feelings or beliefs, and to make new choices and respond with authentic new actions. Thank you for this distinction!
Exactly! Feel, think, pause, then decide.