What do you do, when you don’t know what to do? I was recently asked this question by one of my clients. And truth be told, I’ve asked it of myself many times before. It’s more common than you might think. Often times it simply comes in the form of doubt or fear: Fear of moving forward, fear of not moving forward; Fear of making the wrong decision, and fear of making the right decision. Sometimes others provide us with the answer of, simply, “do anything!” But is that helpful? I suppose it can be, but the vagueness of that reply can reinforce and underscore the feeling of emptiness inherent in the question. So, while it’s certainly encouraging – it’s not necessarily helpful.
Here’s what I think works better: when in doubt, leave it out. Initially, perhaps that’s a bit counterintuitive, but it makes sense if you look at it. So let’s do that. If you are in doubt about something, it automatically muddies the water of your life by creating friction between your conscious and subconscious minds. Muddy water can then seep into other areas that were previously quite clear, which ultimately results in the exasperated feeling of “what now?” So, to start with, we omit the portion that is sullying the water. Yes, it’s easier said than done – but here’s a trick:
Rather than focusing on omitting the cause, focus on everything else. Go as simple as you need to go, until you are in clear water again. As with everything, when we focus on the negative things and try to change them – we only give them more power and influence over our lives. But if we focus on the positive things, and do our best to expand them, then we are really living authentically for who we are. Here’s an example:
A few years ago, I experienced this feeling of “what now?” and I felt myself going in circles. I tried to fix that which I thought was broken, and the resulting distraction from what was good in my life only caused the good things to be more neglected and ultimately need my “fixing” attention as well. I realized, with help from others, that this was not working, and I paused, shifted my attention, and started to focus on that which was good. Nurturing it, loving it, accepting it. Unfortunately, I had let it go so far, that I was really stripped back to the basics. I spent many days and weeks waking up and simply looking around me and allowing myself to feel grateful for the simplest things: a beautiful tree outside my window, a bird’s song, a smile from a friend, a roof over my head, food on my table, etc. You get the idea. These are the simple things that most of us take for granted, because we have been too busy, or not had occasion to be without. In light of what’s going on in Haiti, this exercise is even more poignant. Oprah introduced the concept of a Gratitude Journal to the world. This concept has been around for a lot longer though. A child’s prayer by his bedside at night is the original ‘gratitude journal’ – whether he is praying to God, Allah, Buddha, etc.
What I’m saying is that when we feel overwhelmed by life, and all the chaos and clutter in our minds, hearts and houses – the best way to move forward into peace, happiness and serenity, is to seek out that for which we are grateful, and focus on those things, one at a time. Once our attention is turned, and we can catch a breath or two, we can then take deliberate action, one step at a time, to make changes in our life that will lessen the chaos and disorder. Therefore, instead of looking at a pile of laundry, look at the many clothes you have, and be grateful. Then, do one load at a time – maybe one load a day, until you’re caught up. When it’s all folded and ready to be put away – perhaps there are a few items that you no longer need: items that have added to the chaos and clutter in your life. These are items that may be a blessing to someone else. Could you let go of them? When we are truly grateful for what we have, we sometimes realize that we have too much. Especially in times of need, what a blessing it would be to share our abundance with others. Not only will we be helping someone else, but we will be helping ourselves, too – by taking steps toward preventing a future uprising of that “what now?” feeling.
It all begins with your decision to pause, and choose a different perspective. And isn’t that just amazing? That a feeling as overwhelming as “I don’t know what to do,” can be transformed into empowerment within a few seconds, simply by pausing, looking around you and allowing yourself to appreciate what you already have, and what you already have done. What a gift.
In love and light,