There’s a member of my family –I’ll call him Jack – who, for as long as I remember, has been paralyzed with indecision… fearing making any decision lest it turn out to be the wrong one.
For example, Jack has over-analyzed the options of three different roofing materials (metal, cedar shakes and asphalt, if it matters) since 1996, when he first noticed a roof leak and “temporarily” patched it with a roll of flashing and tar paper…. Tar paper which still covers the entire south facing roofline today.
Briefly, in 2007, he emphatically declared his decision to go with a metal roof (because he likes that it lasts so much longer than the average 40 year asphalt shingle – less maintenance in the long run, donchaknow? A superfluous detail, I would think, considering he turned 75 in March). But alas, the remote possibility of adding a 2nd floor squashed that momentum.
In the face of decision making, many of us continue to run into an unexpected problem: our own sticky habits of mind, leaving us in a paralyzed state of inaction:
One day, our mind is made up. The next, we’re an emotional wreck, terrified that we are making the wrong decision: What if I’m supposed to be doing something else? What if I don’t like the outcome? What if? What if?
Maybe you’re stuck and are ready to move forward?
No stranger to this internal tennis match (seriously, my mind spent years pinballing between fear, regret and ridiculousness), consider a few tools I’ve discovered along the way….
See the action of inaction:
One of the ways to truly screw things up is to do nothing. I’ve arrived multiple times in my life at a proverbial fork in the road. Occasionally paralyzed with indecision, sometimes I’ve lingered there longer than I’d like, but I’ve always known I have to do something.
Maybe that something doesn’t turn out to be the right decision, but history has proven that every misstep points me in the right direction.
When you’re feeling stuck, doing something–even if it’s not the “right” thing–will provide learning opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Release the risks of an incorrect decision.
Give new meaning to your decisions: that of detachment from its fruits.
Find some time in your life to do something that feels right, for no reason other than it feels right. The universe will provide. You will not only survive, you might also succeed in inspiring others along the way.
We can take a page from the yogi text The Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna advises Arjuna: “Be focused on action and not on the fruits of action. Do not become confused in attachment to the fruit of your actions and do not become confused in the desire for inaction (2,47).”
By letting go of what “should” happen or what “could” happen, you free up your life to many surprises. You may not lead the life you thought you wanted, but you will lead a meaningful, miraculous existence.
Write your own Dear John letter to that asshole named Fear:
If you’re having trouble with getting started, I’ve included an excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
I wish I could take credit for this, because I find it absolutely brilliant:
Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do.
Apparently your job is to induce panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting – and, may I say, you are superb at your job. But understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but your suggestions will never be followed.
You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps or suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature.
Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.
If you’re stuck, know that this is really brave work you’re doing: getting unstuck. Yoga helps, because life can’t possibly be delicious when we’re holding our breath, stuck in paralysis.
If you’d like a nudge, join us for a weekend of in-depth personal study in January and enroll in Life of a Yogi.
We’ll spend the weekend using yoga philosophies to help us discover how much of our mind’s stories are true. (Here’s a hint: not many of them). From beginner to advanced, for all students on this path, this workshop will form an invaluable foundation to living yoga.