What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

I’m asked this question, or some variation of it, a lot in my private practice. In fact, I’ve asked this question many (many!) times throughout my life, and the answer has always been the same, though it has come in various forms:

Do the next “right” thing.
Put one foot in front of the other.
Take small steps.
Decide only for today (this morning, the next hour, the next 5 minutes, etc)
Do one thing. Anything.

What do these all have in common?

They’re all about taking action. Each one of those statements is about moving out of thinking and into action. This is akin to moving from the limbic (or reptilian brain) into the frontal lobe. Let me explain…

When we’re mired in our reptilian brain, paralyzed by emotions, we’re limited to three options:


This is where we often get stuck and find ourselves frozen by fear, the unknown, emotional overload, and so much more. When we’re stuck in this place it often seems as if there’s no way out, mainly because we don’t know what to do. Often it’s because we fear doing the “wrong” thing, so we choose to do nothing, except stay in thought, and fear, and emotion. You get the point.

So, what do we do when we’re paralyzed by the unknown, mired in doubt and fear? Anything. That’s actually the answer. We do anything. We do anything that we can to propel ourselves out of that place and into another state.

For me, in the past, this has often looked like controlling my environment, also known as cleaning my home. Yup – it’s true. When I’ve been mired in indecision, fear, and doubt – you can usually find me soon thereafter tidying something up. If it was already tidy, I would rearrange furniture. I’m not kidding (ask my friends). There’s something about fixing, maintaining and nurturing my nest that frees me from that place of stagnation and allows me to begin flowing again.

What is it for you? I’m guessing if you think about it, you’ll find that you have a couple “go-to” solutions for getting yourself unstuck. Such as:

Take a walk.
Clean a room.
Paint a picture.
Bake something.
Call a friend.
Play a sport.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do? Anything. Anything that gets you moving in a different direction, actively involved, using your body as well as your mind will be enough. Anything.

From there, you’ll know what to do. 🙂

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