Did you ever feel lost about which road to follow in your life and unable to move forward?
That was me at the end of my freshman year at Otterbein college when somewhere inside me I knew I wasn’t on the “right” road as a music major but I couldn’t see a “right” road and was afraid to change directions.
Sometimes it’s hard to see a clear path and decide what’s a yes and what’s a no when you’re faced with a choice that seems so difficult…
Or even one that shouldn’t be difficult at all.
It certainly has been for me!
Getting overwhelmed by emotion, indecision, always looking to others to find out what they wanted first and then doing what I thought they wanted was my MO.
For many years, I bypassed my inner guidance in favor of looking outside myself for the “correct” answer.
You could have called me a “pleaser” but it went so much deeper than that.
It went to the very core of being insecure and unsure of who I was, somehow believing others’ opinions and ideas were more important than mine.
I went to Otterbein because an older friend from our church went there. I just “fell” into becoming an organ major because it was expected after years of piano and organ lessons that I would continue and do something with it.
I saw it as the only path open to me at the time.
So at the end of my freshman year after doing very poorly in my music dictation class, along with realizing that I didn’t want to teach music or spend that much time practicing by myself, it became clear that this path wasn’t for me. The trouble was I didn’t know what was next. It was suggested that I change my major to English and education and I thought that was okay because I liked to read.
In those days, I seemed to just bump along, not really knowing what I truly wanted or finding a path to get there.
Over the years, as I woke up to how I had been following others and not looking inside me and showing up in an authentic way, I knew that I had to find out who I truly was.
So I tried various ways to find out the answers inside me and who Susie really was.
–My first attempt was to learn a pendulum method which involved using a crystal on a beaded chain and allowing it to swing over my palm as I asked whatever question I was considering.
My question could be as simple as “Should I eat this brownie?”
I had to learn what was a “Yes” and what was a “No” by the direction it was swinging. I discovered my particular pattern by asking “Is my name Susie” and watch the direction the pendulum swung which was clockwise. I found out that my “no” was counterclockwise.
For someone who doubted her ability to make the “right” decision, this was very helpful–for awhile—but I was still using a crutch and I wanted to look deeper.
–Next, I learned what I call the “swaying” method to see the clear answer inside me.
I would allow my mind to clear, ask the question and pay attention to which way my body swayed. Now I had to be standing up to do this and be somewhere where other people didn’t see me doing it–always a bit awkward in stores trying to decide whether to buy a certain pair of pants or not.
Like the pendulum method, I had to first get a baseline of what’s a “yes” and what’s a “no” for me and I discovered my body swayed to the right for “yes” and to the left for “no.”
Most of the time, this swaying method did give me clues to my inner truth, but I’ve discovered so much more as time has gone on.
While these methods helped, here’s what I’ve learned since about how to know if something is a YES or a NO for me…
- A decision usually doesn’t have to be made when it seems like it has to be made
I realized that usually there’s no urgency in the moment to make a decision on the spot.
Sometimes there might be but usually I do have time to settle down, allow my stories and “shoulds” to recede into the background, and get clear what’s true for me.
My husband Otto and I joke that sometimes when it seems we have to make a decision right now that involves both of us…
One of us will say, “We don’t have to decide that right now” and it takes the pressure off for the moment.
When it comes down to it, we have the time to collect information we need to make a better decision than if we hadn’t taken the time.
Of course, procrastination can come into play but we’ve found that decisions that really need to be made, get made…
And those that don’t, fade away.
- Make a choice with a clear mind
A clear mind is one without stories that may be true or not true that can cloud your vision.
This is where you start questioning whether what you’ve been believing is really true or not…
And expanding your vision for what’s possible.
When I hear a “should” in my mind, that’s a sure sign to take another look at whatever belief is holding that thought in place.
If I believe I “should” do something for an organization I belong to but have an uneasy feeling of dread at doing it…
That’s a clear sign for me to take another look and not give an automatic “yes” that I’ll do it.
It’s time for a pause.
- Learn the difference between fear talking and the voice of inner knowing
In coaching sessions I’ve done over the years, when I’ve helped people make difficult decisions like whether to stay in or leave a relationship…
They’re usually overwhelmed by loud voices inside shouting fearful stories about their future.
When making important decisions, each of us can question whether the fears are warning us of danger or whether those fears are really holding us back from something that could be wonderful.
Here’s what I’ve seen—When I allow the fearful stories to just be there without feeding and mulling them over, they dissolve and whatever is left is my truth in the moment.
When I allow inner peace, I get clarity about the right decision for me.
We can’t know the future and whether our decision is the “right” one or not—that just comes with time.
But what we can discover is what’s true inside at this moment and from that truth, take action or even be still. The answers are always there. We just have to see them.