How do you know what to commit to in your life, or what choices to make? What romantic interest, job, friend, trip, or task do you choose? There are so many options. How do you know how to make the right choice? What does choosing “right” even mean? Options and choices can lead to feelings of overwhelm and confusion. Feeling confused, in turn, can lead to stagnation because of indecision. Lately, I hear smart, driven people say they are so nervous about making the wrong choice, they’re making no choice. This is a problem in and of itself. When you are not making choices in life, you can’t make progress. Your choices create the flow in your life.
No choice, no flow.
I have held, and still do hold resistance to commitment. My natural tendency is to live more as a “free bird,” meaning I desire to go with the flow, take off on a whim, adventure, and sway away from a concrete plan. I love when choices reveal themselves to me. I love the organic nature of how life shows me what direction to go, although there are times when a straightforward decision is called for. So, what do you do then? What do you do when you need to make a clear choice?
Focus on the Now
When I’m making a choice and I look into the future of how the decision can affect my future and everyone in it, I begin to feel paralyzed. The fear that arises from focusing on the hypothetical future if I make a choice is just not a healthy approach. Instead, focus on the now and how that choice is going to affect you in the present. Your present reality is all you have, and all you need. Do your best to get in tune with what you are feeling and make the best choice you know how to make in the now considering what feels right.
The past is generally a good predictor of what to expect and what is to come. However, sometimes there is no relevant connection from the present to the past, and it’s not productive to seek one. Looking at each choice you make with current and fresh eyes is a centered and more realistic approach. Being mindful not to bring the past into your current experience is a more positive way to approach life. Living in the “what used to be” or the “what might be” is a surefire way not to live in the now.
Take a Step Back
Breathe. Take a break. Remove yourself from the situation. Focus on something totally different. Get a good night’s rest. Have fun. Take a trip. Very often when you are unsure of what move to make, allowing yourself to step away from the decision-making process can help you see things with more clarity. I’ve made the most monumental decisions in my life just after returning from trips. I go into the trip confused, unsure, and stressed about what to do. Magically, sometime during the trip or in reflection when I get back, I feel clearer about what I want to do. I’ve moved cities, quit jobs, and pressed some major reset buttons for my life after giving myself time away from the issue.
Trust Something Bigger
I know this is easier said than done, but try not to put so much pressure on yourself toward “figuring it all out.” Yes, you have choices and decisions in life to make, but there are also outside, higher-power forces that are bigger than you and your decisions. These forces show up as coincidences; missed trains, planes and buses; ironic happenings; etc. Letting go of the perspective that you have to do 100% of the action toward making something happen goes against the natural flow of life. Sometimes things, opportunities, and people fall into our lives without any work on our part. Trust that. When you do your best to live a life that feels good, these happenings occur with a lot more frequency.
Recognize Very Few Things Are Permanent
As we make decisions, it’s easy to get caught in the permanence of it all. The thing is, very few things in life are permanent. Many choices can be revised down the road and changed. For example, if you moved cities and it’s not the life you envisioned, move again. You’re dating someone and he/she is not what you initially thought, break up and switch it up. You started a career and it’s wearing on you to show up each day, start something different.
I understand, with compassion, that it’s far more complicated than those easy-breezy solutions. The point to take away from this is that it’s not impossible. People make major changes every day and survive. Very often, when you gain the confidence and trust to jump into the unknown, wonderful things are waiting for you once you land. I’ve yet to meet someone who moved away from a draining situation and regretted it. Very often, it’s not one choice that will make or break you. Choices, usually, are small. You get the freedom to make choices for yourself all day long. One positive choice followed by another will lead you in a positive direction. By practicing decision-making with small choices, you have already carved out a positive path to walk. This lessens the confusion around a decision and leaves you with the control to make the best decision you know how to make at the given time. After you complete that step, you get to sit back and allow life to show you the way. Your awareness of who and what is around you will help you with your decision-making. You got this.
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