Did you ever say it as a kid? "When I grow up...." It seems like a promised land. In many ways it is! I can eat candy to my hearts delight and make all my own choices - consequences included.
But I have to admit the "grown up decisions" of life can be really hard. Let me tell you a story...
Two years ago I was faced with a decision. It was one of those moments when you have multiple options and making a choice for one really good thing means leaving something else behind. I was offered a position for a job in Ohio and I also had a job offer here in Lexington. Both were jobs I had dreamed of over years of school and work. I was at a point of having two options on the table and felt more frozen than ever.
I came into my office one morning, still faced with the decision and still just as unsure what I would do. That day on my desk I found a note written by one of my coworkers, with whom I had been sharing my thoughts and getting support. On the note she had handwritten a quote - and that exact note STILL sits on my desk to this day where ever I setup my office.
"My heart is at ease knowing what is meant for me will never miss me, and what misses me was never meant for me."
- Imam Al- Shafi'i
Well I had to really ponder how I was feeling after reading this message. I was so wrapped up in the decision that I was overlooking the amazing gift in my life. I was overlooking the fact that I was standing before two options that were both dreams come true. Stepping back and having to take some time to appreciate the moment in my life helped me tune in to the feelings happening for me as I pondered my choices.
I believe that sometimes (many times even?) our thinking gets so hazy with the "what ifs" and the possibilities, and even our hopes and fears and it's only when we begin to slow down that we can see clearly and listen to the feelings that can guide us.
Think about it this way.
When we are totally thinking ahead and making plans, ...and considering what could go right...
...and what could go wrong...
we are falling into a line of thinking that heads us down one linear path. And we are trying to project the future with only bits and pieces of evidence to guide us.
When we pause, breath, talk it through, and value the opportunities we can clear our mind and listen.
Clients who work with me often hear me say
"Ok, let's zoom out for a minute."
We work to take a pause and to see the fullness of life. We need to look at more than just the one decision banging on the front door.
Now I do not want this to come across as all rainbows and gumdrops. Many of us are faced with decisions that have no ideal solution, difficult outcomes, and we are dealing in painful emotions. I do not want anyone to walk away thinking I am saying "Let's just see the big picture and it'll all be great. Sadly, that's not true.
There is another reason to slow down when we can.
We can notice resources and other people who can help us. We can connect with supports and help. When we are racing ahead and focused on one hard choice we overlook when we are in our own minds debating and fearing. That can be the support of therapy, a trusted friend, a spiritual leader, etc.
Take a moment, zoom out, slow down, and look to see who can listen and support you in times when you are feeling that the "grown up" choices are really a struggle. Remember that sometimes slowing down can help you value the emotions you are experiencing and they can be guides in making hard choices. Also the hard choices are sometimes best made when we aren't going it alone and we take the time to sort through hard stuff with a trusted friend or a professional.
Give me a call if there I can be of support.