There are plenty of times in life when doing the right thing or the best thing at the time feels like the hardest thing ever:
- Giving up a pet to a new home
- Quitting a soul-sucking job
- Deciding not to have more children
- Leaving the abuser or addict
- Staying home with the baby
Life is filled with moments like these, decisions that don’t have easy answers or come with obvious happy-ever-after outcomes. There are pros and cons to every side and we worry and fret our way through each of them.
The problem is, we often believe we should know the outcome before we even live it. We convince ourselves that change is hard, so when faced with biggie decisions that would cause some uncertainty, we stress out. We become wishy-washy. We worry. We blame. We question ourselves and build a fantasy world of “what-if” scenarios. “What if I’d only done it differently?” This keeps us stuck in the decision-making process forever. If you’re like me, you call this phase “research.” It’s really only a clever (and transparent) way to avoid making a decision. Heck, I can make picking out a comforter cover an ordeal.
But, getting stuck in the decision, is also a constrictive, limiting way to live. It is the equivalent of not getting the vaccine against small pox because we don’t want the pain from the injection. Course you may die from smallpox, but at least you avoided the shot.
Trust yourself, you’ve got this
The solution is to trust yourself. To know that whichever decision you make – you’ll be O.K. To open up to the notion that you are wiser and more capable than you even know and that by actively engaging with the world, by making a choice, you are shifting energy and opening yourself up to greater possibility. The way through a difficult decision is to make it and then embrace the idea that there will be unseen gifts for you in this choice, even with the pain.
It isn’t easy to do something different – especially if it’s unpopular with others. There will be a learning curve, sure. Plenty of uncertainty. But, you can’t tell me that staying in a bad relationship is easy either.
Chasing a dog through the streets praying that it hasn’t been hit by a car, is not easy. Spending eight hours at a job that depresses you, is not easy.
If you’re honest, staying where you are, contracted, stuck, small, investing energy in the same distressing routine day-in-day-out, is not at all easier than making a decision that moves you in a new direction.
When you do choose a new direction – the grief or anxiety or uncertainty then, doesn’t have to be repeated every day. It changes, becomes fluid. There is movement and ultimately the shifting emotions are a sign of growth instead of a reminder of how bad things are.
Pause to acknowledge yourself when the emotions come. Notice the strength and courage it took to make the choice no one else could have made. Acknowledge yourself for your growth and expansion, for being brave enough to try something new, to seek something better, to live authentically and true to yourself. Then, go looking for the gift that is hidden in all this. It will be there for you. Because when you make the Big Decision you create movement. You learn to trust yourself and finally, you get to see how strong and capable and powerful you really are.
On Wednesday, I’ll offer some ideas about how to cope with the change after you’ve made the hard decision. For now, consider what you’ll do next. I’m confident you can handle it.