A few days ago, I was on the phone with a client, feeling her pain as she shared that she’s uncertain about where to go in her marriage. She’s dissatisfied and confused, and feels guilty and overwhelmed. She has so many questions and conflicting desires, and her brain is noisy with ideas of what she could do, but no clarity about what she should do.
To make matters more confusing, as we went deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, we could see that there were so many emotional ties to family and past experiences. How was she to know what feelings were intuition vs. fear; instinct vs. conditioning? “I don’t know what to do!”, she cried. Not knowing what to do was incredibly painful for her, and the only thing that was clear was that it was unclear what to do.
I could so relate…
› I spent years agonizing over what to do about my marriage.
› I spent a year agonizing over what my niche and business name should be, and what my website should look like.
› I spent many months agonizing over whether to move to San Francisco full-time.
Why do we suffer through all this agony?
We agonize because we don’t want to sit with the pain of not knowing what to do. We can’t hear our inner voice and don’t fully trust it, so we obsessively focus on drafting pro/con lists, reading self-help books and gathering advice from friends and experts. The more we try to figure it out, the more overwhelmed and confused we feel. Every time one of the options we’re considering “wins” in our assessments, we feel a triumphant rush of certainty, only to be quickly returned back to the confusion and despair of not knowing what to do.
The problem is this: when we’re trying to “figure it out”, we’re in our head, rather than being present.
When we’re not present, the people we love feel like we’re not with them, so disconnection and dissatisfaction increase, effectively destroying intimacy in those relationships. If we look closely, we can see that this can be created with our partners, our children, our clients, businesses and bodies. When we’re not present, we feel deeply disconnected from our own inner guidance. We can’t discern our intuition from all the other voices in our awareness. We feel desperate and despairing.
Here’s a very personal story, to illustrate: 6 weeks ago, I decided to move to San Francisco from NYC. The movers come next week. At dinner with some girlfriends a few nights ago, one of them was shocked at how quickly it’s all happening. As I reflected, I realized that it wasn’t because I had analyzed and strategized the decision from every possible angle — I actually made a decision some time ago to stop trying to figure it out. Instead of agonizing over the decision for the last several months, I knew that it would be clear when the time was right, and instead chose to put my focus on play, relaxation and being in my creative zone. When clarity came 6 weeks ago, I wasted no time springing into action. I remember a time when I agonized over every big decision, rolling it back and forth in my mind in a torturous, unending calculation of pros and cons. I still do this from time to time, but have been practicing trusting the uncertainty and being patient until the time comes that I “know”.
THE FEMININE APPROACH TO MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS:
1. You first have to step out of pain, or you’ll make rash decisions. Your body, if given an option, will choose pleasure over pain. If you don’t consciously create pleasure, you will make hasty decisions in a desperate attempt to escape the pain of not knowing. Instead, try this: right now, take a deep breath and flood your body with the feeling of trying to “figure it out” — it probably feels tight and constrictive. Now, take a deep breath and allow your body to respond to the feeling of letting go of “figuring it out”. Letting go probably gives you the experience of expansion and openness — much more pleasurable. When your brain tells you “Hey! You need to figure this out!”, you can close your eyes, and relax into the pleasure of letting go, letting your body (the home of your “gut feelings” and “inner knowing”) take the lead. You will find yourself more present and relaxed, and clarity will arise more naturally. It’s scary to acknowledge “I don’t know”, but it’s less painful than fighting for clarity. There’s deep wisdom to be found through your pleasure.
2. Now that you’re out of the pain, ask yourself, “How do I want to feel?” Because pleasure is wise and our minds are noisy, let desire be your guide. From that more relaxed state, you can ask yourself how you want to feel. For example, you may say you want to feel playful, joyful and calm.
3. Go have fun living your life, creating more of those delicious feelings you want. If you want to feel playful, joyful and calm, what will create those feelings? A walk in the park? A pedicure with a girlfriend? A sweaty late-night dance party? Living in your desired feelings will put you into alignment, inviting inspiration and clarity to join you.
4. Share your visions with your girlfriends. Women are most excellent at holding intentions. Think of the women in your life — whether it’s one or a group — who you feel safe with and loved by. Paint the picture of your desires and allow them to cradle the vision with you. You’re not alone.
5. See the light at the end of the tunnel and have patience. Whatever you’re going through, even if it’s frustrating and painful at times, is leading you to something good. Be patient with yourself and this journey. Babies and websites and clarity are birthed when they’re good and ready. Relax into letting go, play, dream, and trust.
—> In the comments below, I’d love you to share your story of how you made a quick decision after giving up “figuring it out” or any tips you have for making important decisions without confusion, overwhelm or worry. I can’t wait to talk with you about this!