"We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make." -- Ben Franklin
Have you ever wondered what your life would be like had you made one decision differently? What if you had taken an alternate path or your timing had been different? Every decision you make has some impact, some consequence. Even a small decision has the potential to drastically alter the course of your life.
Adolescence is an amazing time, filled with countless opportunities and challenges for your daughter. She is facing many of the decisions that will shape her adult life. To successfully handle these potentially life-altering situations, she needs a strong internal decision-making center.
If you could give your daughter just one tool, it should be a basic skill to handle the challenges in life. Place in her toolbox the master tool that would augment her ability to make competent decisions: the Connected Inner Guide, the "hammer" of decision-making. Depending on the decisions she makes, she will build up, tear down, or reshape the quality of her life. Properly used, this hammer of decision-making enhances your daughter's personal power and strength.
Good decision-making is a learned skill and must be exercised like a muscle to build strength. To help your daughter nail down good decisions, you must teach her to rely on her internal decision-making center. Positive growth and change require the development of this center that we call the Connected Inner Guide.
The Connected Inner Guide is a highly complex, integrated tool that provides the necessary wisdom and guidance to handle virtually every circumstance. Every decision your daughter makes is formed with this guide. This Connected Inner Guide is what she thinks, what she feels, and what she holds dear. It is a deep awareness and acceptance of who she is. The Connected Inner Guide, when functioning properly, builds your daughter's self-esteem. The Connected Inner Guide is the hammer that nails down control and strength in her life.
The Connected Inner Guide has three components -- the head, the heart, and the gut -- that shape sound decisions using an integrated approach. Each decision-making component focuses on solutions in unique ways.
The head offers discernment and options. In the thought process, choices are examined, rationally or irrationally, with deliberation. The heart offers a range of emotions. In the feeling process, options are affirmed or rejected with positive or negative emotions. The gut offers a personal evaluation based on values and universal principles. Within this instinctual component, right and wrong are measured. At its best, the Connected Inner Guide relies on a balance of the head, the heart, and the gut.
When left to their own devices, the head, the heart, and the gut have no desire for balance. Each of these decision-making centers pushes hard for control. When one component is allowed to dominate, it is at the expense of the other centers. The head wields reason and intellect to govern the decision-making. The heart exerts emotions and feelings to justify its position. The gut exercises values and principles to prevail. Weakness in any of these components increases the power of the others, throwing the inner guide out of balance. To optimize the Connected Inner Guide's efficacy in decision-making, these three components need to function in harmony and balance.
Harmony and balance are not the only elements that affect the proficiency of the Connected Inner Guide. The head, the heart, and the gut each impact the decision-making center based on how much influence they exert. Each component must be examined individually to fully comprehend their natures and their roles in the decision-making process.
1. Within the head, there are competing inner voices that range from the Toxic Inner Critic to the Comforter. When functioning well, the Comforter affirms self-esteem and fosters good decisions. The Comforter uses reason to heal the wounds left by mistakes. At the other end of this continuum, the Toxic Inner Critic destroys self-confidence. This critical defeatist voice erodes decision-making by instilling doubt and distortion. An awareness of the Toxic Inner Critic's distortions begins the process of changing this destructive force to the Comforter's voice.
2. The heart has its own continuum of good to bad. The heart's emotions are indicators that affirm or reject available options. When functioning well, the Courageous Heart offers positive emotions to support appropriate decisions and negative emotions to direct inappropriate decisions. At the other end of the continuum, the Crybaby Heart's misuse of the emotions of fear, anger, guilt, blame, and envy prevents and misguides decisions. As the Courageous Heart intervenes, the Crybaby Heart is quieted.
3. One's gut feeling or instinct is based on values that also fall on a continuum of good to bad. At the positive end of the spectrum, the Trained Conscience relies on both personal integrity and universal truths to influence decisions. On the negative side of the continuum, The Creep exudes little or no values. It is this void that alters decisions by its weakness in the conscience. The Creep is possibly the hardest component to change, but through perseverance, it can be retrained. The emergence of the Trained Conscience is vital to sound decisions and self-worth.
The Connected Inner Guide is perhaps your daughter's greatest tool. Every choice she makes shapes her life in some way. How well her Connected Inner Guide functions largely determines the quality of choices that she makes.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher (©2000),
New World Library, Novato, CA 94949.
A Toolbox for Our Daughters: : Building Strength, Confidence, and Integrity
by Annette Geffert and Diane Brown.
The complex issues girls face as they enter their teens can often undercut their self-image. This book is designed as a hands-on tool for mothers, fathers, and daughters confronting this period of transition. Chapters discuss building security with love and boundaries; decision making; overcoming the inner critic; pragmatic optimism, attitude, and vision; expanding beyond society's limits; humor; and care of body and soul.
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Annette Geffert and Diane Brown have dedicated over twenty years to enriching the lives of women and children. As mothers of three daughters, ages thirteen through twenty-one, and two adolescent sons, the writing of this book was a heartfelt calling. Both Diane and Annette focus their energies on women's issues, in particular developing leadership skills in women. Diane received a master's degree in public administration from the University of Georgia, and Annette received a business administration degree from the University of Houston.