“Help! I am so unsure about what to do.
And it terrifies me that I may make the wrong decision.”
It’s not always apparent which direction we should go in. Sometimes we feel pulled apart at the seams by two distinct courses of action. Maybe the option we are faced with overwhelms us with perceived pressure or insecurity... we ask ourselves, “Is this REALLY what I want?” And in some cases, we’re just scared shitless. There is no perfect answer to serve all occasions, but I can offer you a few tried-and-true strategies that will help you to find your answer every time!
#1 :: Pay Attention to the Voice in your Head....
Are your reasons for doing it empowering or disempowering?
The first step to gaining clarity involves an exercise in self-awareness. Noticing the internal language you use around a particular course of action can immediately reveal your deepest truth. When you debate this issue in your heart and mind, what words do you use most?
For example, said-action is disempowering when you use words/phrases such as:
I really have to this because... (there is no “have-to” in empowerment)
If I don’t do this then... (indicates fear is guiding you vs. possibility)
I’m not sure what else I would do, so I probably should... (should’s are just shitty reasons, period.)
This worked for so-and-so, so it must be the right thing to do... (fyi, it’s your life)
On the other hand, said-action is empowering when you use words/phrases such as:
It’s so exciting to think about doing this because... (a feeling of exhilaration)
Even though I’m scared, the possibilities this opens me to are... (moving toward expansiveness)
If I don’t do this now, I just know I will regret it later... (guided by intuition)
Even if this doesn’t work out, I have a feeling it will lead to something great... (a sense of *optimism)
Essential aside regarding optimism: I find it an unfortunate (and misguided) use of optimism when people talk themselves into loving an idea just because it COULD work out. Of course it could! But that doesn’t mean that you want to do it! An optimist can talk him or herself into doing anything. Save your rose-colored glasses for another day. Making important decisions requires you be honest with yourself and what is really guiding your choices. What matters more that IF it could work is whether or not a course of action lights you up or dims you down. Do you feel more or less powerful when you imagine doing it?
#2 :: Ask Your Body....
What is your gut telling you? Literally.
It’s easy to get caught in the cross-fire of the heart and mind. A part of us yearns to do something driven by our passion around a cause... while our mind frantically tries to keep up with us while weighing the pros and cons. The result of this banter can be maddening, as we drive ourselves crazy with scenarios. The heart professes the pleas of the artist-within... the mind is ever-concerned with the logistics... and no one conclusion seems apparent. That, my sweet, is the time when you just gotta listen to your gut!
Your body speaks its own language, and when you learn how to listen to it... you’ll never make decisions the same. Sit quietly and breathe for a bit. Get your bearings first... and then go back to the place where the heart and mind are tossing this choice you are about to make. First turn down the volume on the mind... let lawyering fade into the distance a bit to create a little space for the heart to step in. Then slowly do the same with it... allow the passionate pleas of the heart die down as you place your attention on your lower belly. Stay there for a moment. What do you feel? Likely, a flutter of some sort... anxiety is common when a major choice presents itself. But here is the question you must ask your gut: Do I feel the sickness of apprehension?... or Do I feel the stirring of desire? There can be a fine line between the two, but with practice you will learn to discern between Lionheart Fear (that calls upon courage) and the Inner Sage (that tells us when to hold out for something better).
If you’re still not sure whether or not to trust your gut... then ask your most observant and trusted friend to do a body read for you. Say what?!! Yea... seriously. It’s easier than it sounds. Tell them that you want to talk it out, and you just want them to focus SOLELY on your body language, not the content of your argument. Then, just let it rip... I mean really pour out your thoughts and fears around this decision. Go on until you feel empty... then ask them this question: Did I seem bigger or smaller when I talked about do said-action? You may be surprised by their answer... honest friends are always a good read.
#3 :: Reality Check - It’s Not WHAT you choose, it’s THAT you choose
I often offer my clients The River Metaphor as a way of understanding how essential it is to keep moving in life (more on that soon). Essentially, your life will move with or without you. When you go with it, it’s a much smoother ride. Choice is one of the greatest gifts we have been given, and it is the most essential aspect in our evolution both individually and collectively. When we refuse to make a choice around something, it postpones our growth. Growth is inevitable, while grace is defined by how we choose to go about it. Movement requires saying YES and saying NO... over and over again and again. The sooner you allow for an answer (any answer!), the sooner you free yourself up for the next opportunity. There is no right or wrong in movement... there is only forward. Whether you say yes or no, you have spoken and the current of life will move you that much faster. More on responding to the now, and release the how.
Still not sure what to choose? Then, quite honestly, it’s not a decision that warrants your energy. Let it go. Say yes... say no... say anything(!), and move on. Being stuck is far more detrimental to your growth than any direction you might choose. You can’t mess this up. The lesson will be learned, either way.
“Why do I keep avoiding the life I want?!”
“Start before you’re ready.” - Marie Forleo
It is really freakin’ easy to put things off. I mean, seriously easy... I myself can spend hours planning [translation: postponing!] something I really want to do. Literally. I am a compulsive list-maker... and it’s seemingly good cause to feel productive when not much of anything is actually going on. Ironically, many people would describe me as a go-getter - disciplined and responsible. Ha!... I’ve got them fooled, eh?! ;) Nah... it’s true. I can be counted on to get shit done, that’s for sure. It’s only the things that require the most heart and soul that I avoid. Curious, eh?
Case in point, many of you know that I am a writer. I have shared bits of pieces of myself via articles here and there. I even have a blog dedicated to my love of poetry and prose. (RecklessNectar... and yes, it’s as raw and succulent as it sounds.) But lately I have been wanting to more actively incorporate my writing into my coaching practice, in bigger and bolder ways... and with consistency!!! So why haven’t I done it? I love to write, so that’s not where the resistance lies. My blog is a perfect place to start; I clearly have the platform. But instead of sitting down to write, I put it off or plan it... I make lists of topics... I get distracted by what is urgent... I continually postpone my bliss. WTF?...
I see this phenomenon all around me. Clients that can’t keep themselves from crossing their arms and rolling their eyes when I mention the thing they’d most love to do with their lives. Friends who are wickedly skilled in a great variety of things that light them up, putting off the baby steps in exchange for happy hour or a Facebook session. Millions of people settle for lives that don’t-quite-suck and put off what would make them GLOW. In fact I have found that almost anyone, if you probe long enough, has a latent passion they’ve dreamt of stepping into for as long as they can remember.
So what gives, yo?!
Why do so many of us resist getting on with it?
Why do we AVOID doing what we would most love to do?
Conventional psychology would say that “fear of failure” is the culprit. Many would argue that our insecurities are what terrorize our will to act. Perhaps, in some cases. But if we examine more closely, I think we will see an even deeper fear at work. I call it Fear of Exposure.
You see, what we love the most, reveals us the most.
Essentially, our deepest passions are connected with the most intimate part of us. When we unlock their expression, we are completely exposed. Offering exposure to what is most real for us is the scariest thing we could ever do. Ironically it is also the key to unlocking our greatest joy. We are our most free when we are our most vulnerable, honest, naked, and real.
It’s scary, isn’t it?... being so exposed?
True. It takes practice, stepping into the light in all your naked glory. But let’s be clear, it’s not the fear that stops you from doing what your heart yearns for. Hesitation does that. What’s the difference, you ask? Fear only has the power you give it. It’s just a handy surge of energy that rises up when we feel a real or imagined threat. It’s a subtle (or sometimes paralyzing) sensation that you can learn to navigate. It’s not fear that is the problem, it is what you do in the face of that fear that defines how the moment will unfold....
When faced with exposure of self... Do you hesitate? Or do you ACT? Giving vehicle to your authentic desires... acting in the face of fear... this will conjure up more power than you could ever imagine.
Uh... okay... but but... but Coach... what about my insecurities?... processing my core issues?... chanting affirmations?... making vision boards?... reading the latest and greatest self-help book? Great! Do those things if you feel they light you up in a meaningful way. But none of them, NOT A SINGLE ONE is a substitute for action. Trust me on this... I’ve done the legwork.
It’s GO TIME....
I commit to:
Writing. It is the passion I mostly intimately connect to. It is what I was born to do... and therefore, it scares the shit out of me how naked I become when I do it. And that’s EXACTLY why I have to do it. I plan to walk my talk, and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
What about YOU?
What are you scared shitless of doing... that you are going to just do anyway? I’ve got your back. Seriously. You don’t have to do it alone. And trust me. The Nike brand is timeless for a reason. Just Do It. These three words will change your life forever.
Action transmutes fear into pure, raw POWER.
So go kick fear in the ass!!