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Why does this always happen to me? Seriously, again?

Have you ever felt so lost that you didn't know what to do?  Have you ever been confused? Has it seemed that you had so many options ahead of you that you are unsure of what to choose?

If you are anything like me, you go around in circles in your mind. You ask nearly everyone you come across and trust in the slightest their opinion of what they think you should do. Isn’t this why coffee shops exist? To air the inner workings of each others lives?  But this external exploration rarely leads to any real clarity.

So, what can you do when the answer isn't clear but you need to make a decision?  I don't claim to be an expert in making the right decisions, and actually quite opposite at times. However, over a lifetime of choosing in the midst of confusion, I have realized that life is more enjoyable when you just make a choice and let the chips fall where they will, rather than try to “do it right.”  

Here are some words of wisdom (perhaps) from a fellow traveler (tweet!). Watch for these traps and choose to forge ahead:

  1. What I want doesn't exist, yet.
    You might be a trailblazer. Just because your friends aren’t doing it, and you haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it is a bad choice.  Going against the grain is often a sign that you are up to something good. We don’t all want the same life, the same experiences or lifestyle, and yet sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that one way is best.  SO not true.

  2. There is a right and wrong decision.
    I have spent many hours and considerable brain power trying to nail down that elusive “right” decision, when I had no idea there wasn't one. And what is so bad about making a “wrong” decision, anyways? Failing, if you can even call it that, is where we learn. Choosing a path and not having things turn out the way we thought can create great clarity about what it is we do want and how we want getting there to feel.  Only by things blowing up in my face, or feeling bad or uncomfortable along the way was I able to understand what needed to happen to make my life work the way I wanted it to.

  3. I can figure it out if I ask enough people.
    The plan is out there. Someone knows what it is, right. I think we have all run into this trap of asking our community for advice.  What would you do?  Do you think I should ...? Each outside piece of feedback or advice (even under the most supportive intent) can cause more confusion and spinning, which does not help.  The clarity is there deep within us. Instead of getting input, we often just need to get quiet enough to hear it our own inner voice and trust ourselves to move into what it is saying.  The more people we ask, the more we devalue and silence our own voice of clarity.  Trust yourself. Once you get quiet, and still, you will know what to do (tweet!).

  4. Making a wrong decision is a waste of time.
    There is no destination, and hence no predetermined time we “should” be at any particular place along the journey. Once we start living an actualized life, and move into what feels like a more authentic lifestyle, we can feel we have wasted years not living this way and now don't want to waste a minute in that space again.  I understand, but it's not a race. The more you can see that there is no destination, it is all in process all the time, the more you are living in the now. Remember, there is no plan. We are living in transition, incompleteness, messiness, unknown. There are no guarantees. Instead of striving for a life that doesn’t exist yet, enjoy the unfolding that is happening now (tweet!). LIFE IS NOW!!

  5. Afraid? You might just be excited.
    Our somatic system -- our parasympathetic (rest and restore) and sympathetic system (fight or flight) -- are our body’s way of trying to take care of us. But, sometimes our body gets it wrong.  When we are able to let life flow, to lean in, our parasympathetic system rules. Our heart beat slows down, our digestive system starts to kick in, we are hungry for nourishment. When there is resistance, fear, our sympathetic system take over, and our body prepares for fight or flight. Adrenaline floods our brain and nervous system, our vision sharpens, our heart beat increases, we might feel sweaty, or shake to prepare for battle. Unfortunately, excitement and fear can feel like the same thing. When we have developed a pattern of living in fear our body’s sympathetic system kicks in and takes over before we have anything to say about it.

    But that doesn’t have to be the case. You can re-pattern this response. Like anything else, it takes time to create new patterns in our our somatic responses. It has taken me years to understand that something new, something unfamiliar can feel scary, but that feeling might actually be excitement, and not fear.  

    The unknown can kick off a feeling that we mistake as fear, especially when our pattern has been to go into that fear state. When you begin to feel that fear take a deep breath. Soothe yourself with calming affirmations. Lean in. Listen. You will begin to distinguish between fear (mortal fear -- your life is in danger), false fear (you are afraid of something that hasn’t happened, and isn’t realistic -- just let that one go), and excitement. Once you recognize that excitement, let your parasympathetic system take over to nourish you.


  6. Once I make a decision I will be locked onto this path.
    You can always choose to veer off the path you are on. There is always an out, some more graceful than others, but always at least one option. Sometimes abandoning something midstream leads you to a wild, fun and fulfilling adventure. Go ahead. Take that shortcut through the woods. 

    My get out of the spin and into life list. Here are some things to do when your wheels are spinning:

  • Get into nature. You may realize how your current situation is so fleeting in the bigger scheme of life. Plus, getting a deep breath of fresh air really does help reduce stress and gain clarity.

  • Move your body. When you are stewing about something it helps to get in motion. Whether that is a workout, a walk, or just cleaning your house doesn’t matter. What matters is motion. I like to get a good sweat on, but a gentle yoga practice works wonders, too. Moving your body not only feels good, it frees you up emotionally and releases all those delicious hormones that make us happy, balanced and calm.

  • Listen to music that moves you. Music has a powerful effect on us. A positive sense memory can quickly shift our mood, and our mindset. Put on some fun dance tune, and don’t be afraid to sing out loud. ABBA anyone?

  • Give yourself permission (and time) to dream big. Make a date for yourself to do a vision board, set goals, create a plan. Make it fun. Take yourself out to your favorite place and sit down with your big dreams, write, plan and enjoy the process of designing your beautiful life (tweet!). Once you are calm, collected, and ready to make some decisions ask yourself some important questions:

  • What would you want if you could do anything (all the money, time, resources, connections etc)?

  • When you imagine that, how do you feel? Write down or create a collage of that feeling.

  • What is stopping you from doing this?

How you feel is key to knowing whether you are on the right track.

What is one small step you can make today?  You can always change your mind, find another path, retreat and go a different direction. Why not do something that you haven’t tried before? All you have to lose is repeating the past.  Failing can be some of the most powerful and amazing thing you have ever done.


Best Life EverAmy Mattila