This is about making bad decisions, how we learn from them, and how we can take care of ourselves so we make less of them in the future. But honestly, searching back in my decision-making past, even the bad ones have led me to a better place. So, before we dive into the terrible decisions we’ve all made in our past, can we remind ourselves that even the worst decisions offer us gifts in lots of different ways.

With that in mind, I want to tell you about a long-haul flight I once took.

I was flying home from Singapore after I’d spent five weeks in Bali doing my yoga teacher training. Thankfully, my sister Naomi lived in Singapore at the time, and her place was a super handy stop-off.

Just to put you in the picture: my initial flight out to Singapore was borderline traumatising. I’m claustrophobic for a start, I struggle to sleep, and it was a daytime flight. It turned into twelve hours of wide-eyed mania, as every other long-haul flight I’ve taken has done (except the one I’m about to tell you about).

So there I was, a newly-graduated yoga teacher, chatting to Naomi over dinner as I prepared myself for another horrific twelve-hour torture session. My flight back to Europe was that night, around midnight, and I was already bracing myself. But I suddenly had an idea: what if I upgraded to business class? Take my money; surely this was the answer to my problems. Bigger seats, more room, free alcohol… this was the cure. I was sure of it.

And so I dived into my laptop searching for a way to make this happen. And you’ll never guess what I found: an upgrade to business class for just £85. An absolutely bargain for what, in my head, was basically a cure for madness. I went through the checkout process quickly, before they changed their minds, and—bosh—ticket upgraded.

What I didn’t realise was that I’d accidentally bought a ticket, not for the twelve-hour leg of my journey from Singapore to Amsterdam, but for the two-hour flight from Amsterdam to Leeds-Bradford.

If ever there was a need to face-palm, this was it.

Did I beat myself up? You bet. But here’s the real kicker: because my long-haul flight was late, I slept basically the entire journey and woke up refreshed. I couldn’t believe it. No dramas, no mania. Probably the best flight of my life. And even the flight from Amsterdam made me giggle. It was a tiny plane, I was sat with the cabin crew (separated from the cheaper seats (which were exactly the same as my own) by a simple curtain), and I got a complimentary smoked-salmon sandwich. Probably the most expensive sandwich I’ve ever bought.

Stressed? Find ways to downregulate before decision-making

What’s your point? I hear you ask. Well, buying that upgrade was a panic decision. I was tired, run-down, hungry for my own bed and routines; you could say, more than anything else, I was sitting in that fight-or-flight place of my nervous system (the sympathetic branch). And when we make decisions from these anxious, overwhelmed, stressed-out head-spaces, we make really poor ones.

Okay, so my stupid seat upgrade might not be the worst decision ever made, but you get the point. The part of your nervous system you’re currently sitting in—whether that’s flight-or-fright, freeze and burn-out, or ease and connection—completely frames the way you see and interact with reality. When you’re in a place of fear and panic, the world comes across as scary and worth panicking about. The same goes for anxiety, overwhelm, chronic exhaustion, lethargy; the world presents itself to us in a way to underline these feelings.

So, what if I was feeling calm, relaxed, connected, and at-ease before that flight? I might still have checked for an upgrade, but I certainly wouldn’t have missed the vital information that made me book it on the wrong flight. I might not’ve seen sense to look in the first place, instead relaxing into my time with my sister before my trip came to an end.

The takeaway: we make better decisions when we’re relaxed.

Those days you’re feeling pent-up and weird, where everything frustrates you, do not—I repeat: do not—make any big decisions. Wait until you’ve had the chance to settle first (or practice something (like this 12-minute meditation) to get you there). I promise, this simple re-tuning can be absolutely life-changing.

Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 16/10/2023

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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