Have you ever felt alone when you have to make a difficult decision? It can feel like you’re the only one who understands… the only one who has ever gone through this… the only one who has to suffer the consequences. It can seem like there is no right answer and no clear choice. In this state of being stuck, we often do nothing (and hope the problem goes away) or if we are forced to choose, we often choose the most logical way and not necessarily the way that feels right in our very being.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was offered a good job that would pay her bills and even give her a little left over for fun. She had been struggling financially, so you can imagine this job offer was a blessing! But something didn’t feel right. Although she was afraid of the consequences of not taking the job – including having to move because she could no longer keep her apartment – she was also afraid of the lifestyle changes she would have to make.
Logically, the job was perfect because it meant an escape from her financial troubles. But emotionally, it was all wrong for her. The job was a slow-paced administrative position that did not work to her talents or desires. Her dream was to make a living as a painter. However, the fear of losing her home and the logical choice of a good paycheck won out over what her heart told her to do.
Believing that it was her only option, she accepted the job. During the year that she was at the job, she worked very hard on overcoming her fears and upgrading her beliefs. At the time, her fears made settling for a well-paying but boring job seem like the best choice. But what could have been different if she had overcome her fears that “you can’t make a living as a painter,” made some necessary lifestyle changes like moving to a more modest apartment and dedicated herself to her art? To her credit, she did work on her fears while she was at this job, and as soon as she felt that she had enough money saved up to “escape” she did, and within two years her work was being shown at several local galleries.
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If you’ve ever had that awful feeling that no matter the decision you make, you’re going to suffer and struggle… take to heart this quote:
“Whenever I’m faced with a difficult decision, I ask myself: What would I do if I weren’t afraid of making a mistake, feeling rejected, looking foolish, or being alone? I know for sure that when you remove the fear, the answer you’ve been searching for comes into focus. And as you walk into what you fear, you should know for sure that your deepest struggle can, if you’re willing and open, produce your greatest strength.” – Excerpt from Oprah Winfrey’s book, What I Know For Sure
Meditating will help you significantly when you’re in that difficult situation of having to make a choice you don’t want to make.
First, meditation helps you quiet the very loud mental chatter that can keep you awake all night and unable to concentrate. It also helps you to put things into perspective – is the problem really that monumental, or are you just making it bigger than it needs to be? Meditation helps you pause… avoid the “amygdala hijack” of a powerful stress response when you’re considering your options, and gives you a chance to weigh the options from a less reactive perspective – from the perspective of possibility and potential.
You have a lot of inner resources that you can activate by meditating: self-awareness, self-control, creativity, memory and resilience. It helps you explore the unknown using positively-oriented imagination so that you can imagine what might go right in a given situation, instead of remaining hyper-focused on what might go wrong.
Meditation also helps you silence your logical mind and open yourself to intuitive guidance. A single flash of insight or a gut feeling can be all it takes to help you make a choice!
And, meditation helps you understand that fear is an emotion and that it only has as much control over you as you allow it to have. “Sit with” a fear for 90 seconds. Allow it to course through your system and focus your attention on the sensation of the fear itself and not on what makes you afraid. You’ll find that as the sensations dissipate after a minute and a half, you will feel more in control and better able to make the choice.
Practice this trick when you are faced with a smaller yet difficult situation that doesn’t have big consequences: go through every possible consequence of any choice that you can imagine. You are perfectly safe, right now so let yourself feel what you “might” feel IF that scenario even happens. Write down at least two solutions to each consequence. It’s okay if you have no idea how you would respond – make something up! Stimulate your creativity and give yourself the confidence that you will figure it out! Mentally rehearsing what can go wrong AND how you will solve the situation, will help dissipate a lot of your fears!
Once you break through the fear, each new time you’re faced with a fear you are better equipped to cope with it.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Sit with” your fear… let it pass… and explore the future in terms of what can go right (no matter what you choose). You’ll see that this helps you make the big decisions with a lot less stress and anxiety!
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