Awareness Reflection: A Decision – Making Tool
Ignatius of Loyola and people of many languages and cultures have been using this helpful means of discernment, of keeping aware of the quality of their decision – making.
The process involves 5 – 15 minutes of remembering and reflecting on what you have experienced in making decisions during the day. Ask God to help focus on what is important, and to notice what is most positive and helpful in your experience since the last time of making this kind of reflection - a kind of "counting of blessings." Some of the decisions you have made during the day have been good ones, not just in terms of matching your job description and those to whom or for whom you have responsibilities, but also in terms of your personal sense of "doing the better thing." There is a sense of peace, rather than vague disquiet as you call to mind a couple of decisions; a moment of satisfaction that is in the heart, not just the mind.
Quietly consider the different parts of the day: where you have been – in the office, around the home, shopping, working, exercising, praying; what you have been doing – talking, meeting, planning, relaxing. Allow memories of some of the decisions you have made to come to mind. What makes you glad, as being in accord with your conscience and values? What have you said or done that affirms the kind of man or woman you want to be? What have you experienced in working or being with others that brings a sense of gratitude or thankfulness? What events catch your attention now, those that you recognize as being in accord with your purpose and goals as a child of God?
Noting some success in decision-making encourages you to keep going in that direction. During this process of remembering and reflecting, you might also notice a decision that was less good or helpful. But in a context of successes, it does not cause discouragement. It can be seen as an individual mistake that you do not want to repeat. But with the primary focus on the experiences of cooperating with grace and inspiration, you will become increasingly aware of what works, and develop habits of making decisions that match your ideals.
This process of individual reflection lessens the frequency of decisions that might arise from unrecognized feelings of anger, frustration, desire for control, and other negative influences. Positively, even a small amount of time spent in conscious reflection about the real experiences of the day provides an inner basis for improving your decision-making skills.
If you reflect in the evening, and briefly consider the major events and feelings of the day, you will probably sleep well.
It is possible to reflect in the manner described above while walking slowly from one place to another, or while seated on a bus, or in your own office, room, or even a parked car.
Randy Roche, SJ
Last Updated: 09/10/10