Not being able to make up your mind. We’ve all been there. It’s so desperately energy-sapping. Your pros and cons list is stubbornly balanced, friends and family overwhelm you with contradictory advice and you’re not sure which of the many signs you have seen today is THE sign from the universe you’ve been hoping for.
This sorry state of affairs has a knock-on effect in other areas of your life. You begin to doubt yourself at every level. The most mundane issues are a struggle. The red pullover or the blue one? Pizza or pasta for dinner? Left shoe on first or right?
Issues with creative projects can also drag you down. You need snappy insights and sparky ideas but are faced with a wasteland.
Where do you turn?
For years I have used a simple and enjoyable technique called the Three Doors. You can actually have as many doors as you like, I’ve used one door, even five or six. But in my experience, three tends to get the best results. Feel free to play around and see which best suits you and your situation.
As an added bonus, this can be a very good way to get to sleep if you are having trouble dropping off. However, doing it at bedtime is not the most efficient way of getting answers. I rarely get past the first door.
The Technique in a Nutshell
The Three Doors method is very straightforward.
1. Think about your decision or problem.
2. Decide what aspects of the problem you want to ask about.
3. Close your eyes and allocate an imaginary door to each aspect.
4. Go through each door in turn and see what happens.
5. Write it down.
6. Repeat for further clarification.
7. Reflect and look for insights.
Let’s examine each of these in turn in order to maximise the chances of getting the help you need.
Think about your decision or problem.
Although you have probably been thinking about little else, this is a crucial step. You are not looking for answers at this point, you are trying to clarify what you actually need insight about. What is the situation? Is it a problem? Is it a project? Is it a decision? You need to pin down exactly what you want to know.
Let’s take an example. The Coronavirus lockdown has made you question everything in your life: your relationships, the way you work, your diet, the way you spend your free time and where you live.
You’re getting increasingly confused about the next steps to take. You don’t want to waste this opportunity and go back to your old life once things become more normal. But where do you start?
No wonder you are confused. There’s a lot of stuff there. Step one asks you to focus on one of those things. (Don’t worry, you can deal with everything you are concerned about, just not all at once!)
Let’s say you want to focus on the way you work.
Decide what aspects of the problem you want to ask about.
This will help you clarify things. What aspect(s) of “the way you work” are you talking about? Do you have some options in mind already and just can’t choose which to do? Or do you want clarity on what’s wrong with your working methods? Maybe you want to know how to improve the way you work?
Try to move from general to specific, as you can then drill down into specifics later by visiting the doors again.
Asking about options:
1. Keep my current job.
2. Change my current job
3. Leave my current job.
Asking for insight:
1. My current way of working
2. My best future way of working
3. Steps to reach my best future way of working
I think you see the importance of being clear before you begin. Although both examples are about “the way you work”, the options are very different.
It’s best not to use “yes/no” questions as they are too limiting. You need not even use questions. In the examples above, I have just stated the alternatives.
Close your eyes and allocate an imaginary door to each aspect.
Use your usual process for relaxing and calming yourself before choosing the doors. For example, this might be deep breathing, mentally visiting each part of your body in turn, or counting down from 10 to 1 while imagining descending a staircase to a beautiful garden.
Now imagine three doors in front of you set in a wall. You are going to allocate an alternative to each door. Using our first example, “Asking about options”, we have:
Left hand door: Keep my current job.
Middle door: Change my current job
Right hand door: Leave my current job.
Now, before you go through the first door, stand outside it and look at it in detail. Is it large or small? What color is it? What’s it made from? Is there glass in it? Flowers around it? Is there a handle? You’ll often find that the doors for each option look very different. Your mind is already telling you something in the way it has made you picture the door.
It’s important to do your best not to analyse as you go. Try just to enjoy the pictures, or feeling, you get without stopping to interpret. One way to keep yourself focussed is to use a voice recorder to describe what you “see.”
You may want to describe all three doors before going through the first one, or do each description and door-opening separately. It’s entirely up to you.
Go through each door in turn and see what happens.
In your mind’s eye, open the first door and step through. Experience the first sensations as fully as you can. Again, don’t analyse, don’t edit, just approach it with curiosity as if you were watching a film. You may see, feel, taste, hear or smell things. I am certain there will be surprises awaiting you as your logical mind retreats and your intuition and inner knowing takes over.
When you feel ready, turn and step back through the door and close it behind you.
Repeat for each door in turn.
Write it down.
Once you have been through the doors and opened your eyes, it is time to record your experience. You may not feel it’s necessary to write anything if you have recorded your session, but I think there’s something about the act of writing that helps consolidate the experience.
Try to write without interpretation, just detail what you saw and how you felt, including a description of the doors themselves.
Repeat for further clarification.
If you want to get more information on any aspect, then just repeat the three doors technique, using a different set of alternatives to reflect the greater detail you require. You may wish to leave the clarification part for another time, or after you have reflected on the message of your first experience.
Reflect and look for insights.
When you have finished writing, take time to read and reflect. Treat it as you would a dream analysis. Move from the general to the specific. How did you feel overall about each door? Positive or negative? Excited? Scared? What symbols and signs did you see? How would you interpret them based on your own associations and experiences? What do you think the door is telling you about that aspect of your situation?
As I mentioned at the start, I have used this for many years. I have asked all kinds of questions from the trivial to the life-changing, from personal issues to business and writing insight and have always been amazed at what I have found behind the doors. I have gone plummeting into an abyss, swum with sharks and soared on the back of an eagle.
Often, it doesn’t take a doctorate in psychology to understand what your subconscious is trying to tell you, even before you go over the threshold.
Please try it and let me know if it helps you. At worst it is entertaining and relaxing and may help you sleep.
At best, it could illuminate the way forward, showing you which of the many pathways ahead is your best chance of a happy and fulfilled future.