Wavering back and forth over a decision? Yes. No. Yes. No. Maybe. You feel completely lost.
You are not alone. In fact, if you are a thinking, intelligent and capable person you are more likely to have this “wavering disorder”.
People like us see all angles and want to know all angles. The problem is choosing one. That’s risky and many of us have a certain intolerance for this particular kind of risk or uncertainty.
Unfortunately we cannot create certainty. I know we try by gathering information and then more and more information. We try to cover every possible angle. We wait for the sign. The perfect moment.
And often we remain frozen, waiting until the last moment, the pressure point that forces us down one road or another. Our dreams remain the other side of the Edge. We can’t cross into that bigger future so we get pushed and it may not be the direction most truly aligned with our deepest values, desires or intentions. I know that has happened to me. Putting a decision off until I got knocked into something.
It hit me at one of life’s branching points. I found myself standing in the same place I’d stood before, beginning to walk down the same path. It was a crazy making Groundhog Day moment. It made me mad enough to fight back. And I came up with some strategies I’d like to share with you in hopes they will be of some help.
Ask “So what?” Instead of “what if?”
‘What if’ is an anxiety producing position. It generates more ‘what ifs’ and rarely any solutions. It creates not infinite possibilities, but infinite problems. Problems and situations that right now exist only in our imaginations and may never happen. Yet so many of us bleed energy into trying to live risk free by planning for all alternative futures, by covering all bases. We believe’ what- ifing’ is a way to problem solve, create certainty, prepare, to motivate, to lower risk.
“So what?” has a swagger rather than a cower. “So what?” honours our capacity to cope and meet challenges. So what is the language of possibility. Think of any amazing individual. Did they achieve by taking a ‘what If’ position or a ‘so what ‘ position? When you hear yourself asking ‘what if?’, change to ‘so what?’. So what would be so awful should my most feared outcome happen? The worst has not yet happened. Act as if you can tolerate not knowing. As if you can handle whatever comes. Do not be bullied by ‘what if’. Do not let fear crush your dreams
Be Rather Than Do
Yes you may be heartily sick of the mindfulness craze. Nevertheless recall the most memorable amazing moments of your life? My bet is that those times were all about being. Your mind was not in the to-do list. You were not in the past or the future but in the now. You were fully there, experiencing with the totality of your engagement. Those are my standout moments.
That’s what all our doing, our busyness, is often about - frantically trying to create standout wow moments. Yet those moments are actually everywhere there, abundant and available. In being mode we connect with our deepest values and strengths and that keeps our intentions ringing true. We experience those moments. Frantic doing actually prevents being. Oh and by the way ‘what if?’ keeps you in doing mode.
Live With Intention Not A Plan
Intention is full of possibility. There are multiple ways to satisfy intention. When I ask myself what I want, I might answer I want wealth. When I ask myself, “what would wealth give me that I don’t already have?”, I might say, time freedom, a reduction of feeling vulnerable, freedom to travel.
Then I ask what would each of those mean for me? Time freedom means time to learn to dance, sing, play an instrument, spend time with friends, pay more attention to my health, practice yoga, run, time for my relationships. Fun. Play. All this means more quality of life, less vulnerability to health crises. More connection. Travel.
Ok so now I have a lot of intentions and most of them I can do without ‘wealth’. I begin to prioritize, to put more into my day, create more balance. Just a bit. It wasn’t so long ago that I was raising my daughter alone, working two jobs, completing my PhD. At first I set a goal and made a plan. I soon realized I was unhappy even as my goal was realizing. My goal was to get my PhD. I caught myself and re-focused on intention. What was my plan intended to give me. My intention was to have meaningful work with family time, autonomy, decent remuneration and security (the security bit had a lot of ‘what if’s?’ in it by the way so I applied strategy 1). Those intentions could have been met in many ways but all would have been congruent with my core values and longings. Only then could I create a truly strategic plan. A plan does not precede intention but is derived from it. So focus on vision and intention first.
Accept Your Current Reality
I know - yuk. And yes, face it in the white light of the 360 degree mirror room. Be in the moment. Take it with a swagger. Remind yourself this is only for now. Don’t add the suffering caused by resentment, self-judgement, or regret to the actual pain of the situation. Life has pain, but the suffering is optional and is added by our position on the pain and our attempts to avoid it. Acknowledge where you are. Yes I’ve lost my job or my relationship. Yes my lifestyle is unhealthy. Yes I will never be a ballerina or a rock star or marry Prince Harry. I’m not the earner I want to be. Yes I am renting an apartment. Yes I want children and it’s not happening. Yes I cannot afford to take that trip. Yes I’m afraid something is wrong with me. Yes I am lonely. Yes I made a huge mistake. Yes I hate my job. Yes, yes, yes to the reality of this moment. Don’t hide in denial or avoidance.
It is the only place to begin. When you know where you are going and where you are right now, it is much easier to find the path.
There is often deeper work involved in learning to manage risk intolerance. These steps are just the bare bones. If these ideas in any way resonates with you and you are ready to rock the edge, give me a call. I’d love to talk further.