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The Art of Choosing

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The Art of Choosing

Dr. Christiane Northrup
Dr. Christiane Northrup More by this author
Aug 11, 2010 at 07:47 AM 0 comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about the subject of choice lately. Today, I listened to researcher Sheena Iyengar give a thought-provoking talk called The Art of Choosing on T.E.D. (a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, which you can find at I learned that, in America, we value the concept of choice highly and automatically assume that the more choices we have the better. This is interesting, because Iyengar’s research points out that when people are given 10 or more options, they make poorer decisions. Along those lines, she showed a funny cartoon of a big box store called “Monstermart: Where Shopping is a Baffling Experience.” I can relate. I prefer to do my grocery shopping at a very small corner market in town and make every effort to avoid the big super market whenever I can. It’s simply more satisfying to have fewer items, but of better quality, to choose from.

I remember a blog my daughter Kate wrote a while back in which she found herself longing for the “good old days” when most women had only a few career choices: wife, teacher, or nurse, and/or mother. As a 20-something living in New York City at the moment, she’s aware that she really, really wants is to move back to Maine, meet the man of her dreams, and start a family. Yet, she also loves her life in the city and isn’t so sure she’s willing to give it up. Hence the dilemma. How does one choose?

Having so many choices can be paralyzing. And on some level, we want an expert to tell us what to do. I’d like to point out that this same daughter always wanted me to come into her room every morning to help her pick out her outfit for school. Invariably, once I gave my opinion, she’d completely ignore it and choose something else. I’d always wonder why she asked me in the first place. Clearly there was something comforting about hearing my opinion. It helped her figure out what she really wanted, a pattern that continues to this day.

In a country in which we’re presented with endless choices, I believe we each need a way to make decisions—especially when the choices aren’t clear cut, or when we don’t think we even have a choice.

I want to reveal one of the most useful ways I’ve ever found to help me make decisions. Tarot cards. That’s right—tarot cards! Although I’m a very decisive person, I will use the cards to help me decide when a choice isn’t obvious right away. The cards help get my intellect, the left brain, out of the process. (The left brain is the part of us that gets overwhelmed with too many choices and gets stuck in “analysis paralysis.”) Tarot cards are nothing more than archetypal images that reflect patterns in what Carl Jung called “The collective unconscious.” Years ago, I learned what each card meant, finding it fascinating. I use Vicki Noble’s Motherpeace Deck and her Motherpeace Tarot Playbook, which you can learn about at

Here’s how I use them. Once I do my due diligence on a given subject—meaning my left-brained research—I then write each choice on a separate piece of paper, which I fold so that I can’t see what the choices are. (An example of something I’m trying to choose is what outfit to wear for a given event, so I would fold a piece of paper for each option.) When I’m doing a reading, I first ask God, the universe, and the angels for guidance. Then, I shuffle the deck and put a card face up on each piece of paper. When I open up the folded piece of paper, I have my answer. Very often the “right” choice will be the choice that has what is called a Major Arcana card on it. And very often, the card reflects my own intuition about the subject.

Please understand, I don’t believe there is magic in the cards. I believe the magic is in my own intuition and in the process of asking the right questions. When I use the tarot cards, I tap into my heart, my intuition, and Divine help. So, my decisions come from a place of deep knowing, one that is infinitely more satisfying.

Of course you don’t have to use tarot cards. You can use any card deck, including playing cards (and for the record, the images on playing cards are nothing more than tarot in a hidden form). You can also use any of a wide range of card decks, too, including the Goddess Oracle Cards or Angel Oracle Cards from Doreen Virtue. (Go to for more information.)

Just remember, it’s always your choice—and you always have inner guidance that will help you make the right choice for you.

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