Since I don’t shop a lot, yet still expect to look great, when I have to go out for a special lunch or dinner, although I initially manage to pick a nice outfit I’m quite pleased with, eventually it starts: Nope, it’s too plain. Nope, it’s too fancy. I look better in that skirt. The shoes are wrong. No, the jacket looks stupid. I have nothing to wear!
Finally, I settle for something and of course, as I walk out the door, I’m thinking “I should have worn that other dress”.
The stress of deciding what to wear on a special occasion can really spoil all the fun. But it gets bad and serious when we become exasperated over bigger decisions in life, the major ones, and end up stuck, panicked and drowning in doubts. Yes, it’s because we want to reach our goals and not make a mess of things. Like you, I’ve been told it’s about both process and results, that both must be good, relevant, authentic. I’ve also been told I must simultaneously use my brains and intuition, be very careful to choose wisely, trust in the universe, but also be sure to show up prepared and on time. No pressure right? Still, the getting stuck and over-thinking, stressing and panic doesn’t help any, unless we want our lives to be defined by two states: being stuck over making decisions, and being stuck some more examining the characteristics of the decisions we were unable to make in the first place. Wow, doesn’t that sound like fun!
It’s true that in order to know where we’re going, we need to have an idea about where we are and where we’ve been. We have to look for patterns, understand the past and extract whatever pearls of wisdom are available. We also have to have a vision for the future. Yet often what ends up happening is that we become hypnotized by our best intentions and determination to not repeat mistakes, to make the best and wisest choices. Not to mention sabotaged (and paralyzed) by our fears and unpleasant past experiences. So instead of moving forward, we get stuck rummaging through leftovers for clues about both past and future, and risk becoming rather comfortable there, in that nasty but still safe place of indecision. And we have plenty of leftovers to rummage through, as the consequences and influences of the past, both our own and other people’s, are all around us.
Anyone with kids knows the “joy” of having to take a trip to the trash bin and retrieve one of junior’s precious Lego pieces that got accidentally vacuumed up. It involves digging through quite a bit of nasty stuff. But we dig briefly and knowing exactly what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for a Lego piece that might be there, or for inspiration about creating a new Lego set. Yet that’s exactly what happens when we start to over-think and over-analyze in a moment of decision-making crisis, are in a panic over what might lead to and be the best outcome.
Again, it’s all because we really, really, really want to make the best decision for ourselves and others. But have you noticed how the more desperate your attempts to remove doubt, the more doubt you create? And the more you panic over having to make a decision, the less likely you are to make one? (let alone one you’re comfortable with!)
Although I still have my fair share of worry and stress over decisions, experience has taught me three basic things I now know for sure make decision-making a lot easier, and lead to happy results:
1. The easy path is always the wrong one. On it, things may be pleasant (and easy) initially, but eventually everything always collapses. On top of not getting/doing what truly benefits us, our irrational fears, self-sabotaging beliefs and habits go unchallenged. We stagnate, become even more lazy and complacent. So no, not a good place to go.
2. Indecision is not our friend. It’s a liar, a thief, and ultimately a killer. By not choosing, we still choose, namely to let circumstances, our own weaknesses, false beliefs, fears and habits that don’t serve us well claim an even greater chunk of our lives. Indecision buries our best qualities, opportunities, abilities, and intentions. We are guaranteed to lose not only what we have, but also our potential.
3. If we stop over-thinking for a moment, it turns out we all instinctively know what we need to unlearn and outgrow. At the same time, what we need to bring out and nurture within ourselves so that we can grow into more complex, beautiful, and truly balanced individuals reveals itself. Usually it’s something that makes us happy but may also make us a bit (or even very) uncomfortable. What we’ve previously suppressed or avoided, what’s under-developed and needs most attention reveals our path, but also our vulnerability. And this is where we get stuck a lot, because vulnerability = weakness and who wants that. (Hint: Vulnerable is good. It’s not weakness, it simply allows for flexibility, excitement and growth!)
So yes, when we go for what makes us smile, love and feel like we fit; for what invites us to grow, inspires us and brings out the best in us, we automatically end up with the right decision, and on the right path. It’s not magic, it’s simply our nature and the best in us manifesting. Even if we don’t know exactly how we will achieve a goal, even if we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory that challenges our habits and conditioning, even if there are still problems to resolve…simply being in that clean, beautiful space guarantees happy results and a great journey. As an added bonus, our fears and doubts eventually fade away, because instead of living out unrealistic, dark scenarios in our heads, we get to experience a surprising and rewarding reality, one where the nasty stuff we feared no longer applies or has legs to stand on.
Ultimately, all decisions in life are as difficult and maddening, or as easy and fun as we choose to make them. Our perceptions create monsters to be avoided or defeated after an unpleasant struggle, or opportunities that make us smile and feel grateful. No matter what we choose however, every decision we face is a chance to become unstuck, to create a life story that isn’t about futile struggles for perfection, instead, a story about how we fully lived and allowed our best gifts to shine through.
As for not stressing over what to wear for dinner…well, I’m not sure anyone’s ever figured that one out yet.