Whether you're endlessly agonizing over an issue, be it to break up with your partner, take a new job, move to a new town, rent an apartment, or quit seeing your chiropractor, it's a tough place to hang out. Maybe this, maybe that. You drive yourself nuts, occupying yourself with your dilemma. You feel incapable of making up your mind and feel confused, stuck, indecisive, or ambivalent.
It's easy to get down on yourself for not being clear. Maybe you stay in untenable situations long beyond what's sensible. Your quandary occupies you and compromises your ability to enjoy the present moment.
There are several tactics to get clear. You can consult your pendulum, ask everyone you meet for their opinion, do nothing, or write a list of pros and cons. When none of these strategies work, you can do something: sift your priorities. Use the priority sifter! It brings a unique perspective to any situation.
Using the Priority Sifter
The priority sifter helps you get in touch with what's true for you and what to do about a specific situation. It integrates your heart and head and offers a unique perspective.
To use the "sifter" start by writing out a list of ideal (personal) qualities you'd like in the person or situation if you could have it all. Your qualities don't have to be in order of importance. Come up with at least 30 items.
When you are finished, in the "Rating #1" column, rate the person or situation on each item, assigning a "1" if they/it has that quality, "0" is they don't, and "½" if they have it somewhat. When you are finished total column #1. Now divide that number by the number of ideal qualities you listed and you'll come up with a percentage.
(You can use "Rating #2 and #3 to rate other potential partners, apartments, jobs, etc. to see where they stack up.)
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The Attitude Reconstruction Priority Sifter
Determine what percent you require to honor yourself, and compare it to the percent you just came up with. Remember in a school exam, 90% and above is an A, 80% a B, 70% a C, 60% a D, and below that an F.
Check your results with your intuition. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised that it confirms what you already know deep down. As a note, I'd be cautious about green lighting something that got a score in the 60s or lower.
The important thing about the "sifter" is that you must realize that he, she, they, it, are just fine the way they are. This tool offers you some perspective to get clear about what is true for you.
Hold Tight and Reap the Rewards
When the sifter makes clear the direction to take, repeat your conclusion out loud. For example, say, "I'm going to commit to Tom" and see how it feels in your body. You might need to express any emotions (such as sadness or fear) that arise.
If you decide to go forward with your conclusion, your task is to fully accept the qualities that he/she/it has that you don't like. In our example, "Tom smokes cigarettes. Tom is allergic to dogs, Tom doesn't like my taste in music." Repeat the item over and over, until you embrace it as fact. Then you won’t find yourself getting angry when he exhibits that behavior.
You will be much happier if you keep your focus on your similarities. In the areas where you have differences, find a neutral time to talk about them. The important thing is to find workable solutions that honor you both.
If you find your subject does not meet your desired percentage, you can look at all those "1"s and realize they are what attract you to the person or situation. But keep in mind, they are not enough to override what is lacking. It might help you to do a ritual to mourn what attracted to you to the person or situation. With the qualities in mind, cry, and say "Good-bye."
Hold tight to what the sifter and your intuition tell you. Remember the clarity you felt at that moment you made your firm decision. Don't waste time on doubts. Accept the reality and stop dwelling on the past. Then you will be able move forward relishing the present moment and your new possibilities.
What You’re Experiencing
- Agonize endlessly over an issue, whether it’s to break up with a partner, take a new job, or rent an apartment
- Dwell on just a few aspects of the decision instead of seeing whole picture
- Feel confused about what’s really important to you
The Price You Pay
- Allowing someone/something else to determine your fate
- Losing time that could be spent on enjoying the present moment
- Feeling stuck and down on yourself for not being clear
- Staying in untenable situations long beyond what’s sensible
How to Change
- Use the “priority sifter” to gain perspective about your dilemma
- To use the “sifter”: Write out a list of ideal qualities you’d like if you could have it all. Come up with at least 30 items. Then rate the person(s) or situation(s) on each quality, assigning a “1” if they/it has that quality, “0” if they don’t, and “1/2” if they have it somewhat. When you’re finished, add up your total. Then divide your total by the number of ideal qualities to yield a percentage
- Determine what percentage you require. Remember, in school 90% is an A, 80% is a B, 70% a C, 60% a D, and below that an F. Assess your percentage
- Check your results with your intuition
- Realize and accept that they are just fine the way they are
- Power on your conclusion and express the emotions that arise.
- Accept qualities that you don’t like
- In areas of differences, find workable solutions
- You gain clarity and perspective about what is true for you
- You are able to make a firm decision
- You move forward and refocus on relishing the present and living life
- You can stop dwelling on what you don’t like
©2011, 2016 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Article adapted from:
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Word spread about the success of Attitude Reconstruction, and it wasn’t long before Jude became a sought-after workshop and seminar leader, teaching her approach to organizations and groups. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace
* Click here for a video demonstration of the Shiver and Shake Process.