Using Awareness for Better Decision Making
I don’t know what to do. I’m scared to make a choice. I’m suddenly worrying obsessively over something, thinking about what might happen if... I’m paralyzed not knowing which direction to go.
Sometimes making a big choice throws me into panic mode, where I don’t think, or feel, I just DO. When I worry, I let anxiety take over and need to slow myself down so I can listen to what I am really feeling. In order to make a good choice, I need to walk myself through my “feels.”
I’m angry. Angry because I thought I was doing things right, making conscious decisions to live a life as an empowered person, making contributions to society through work and parenthood, balancing pleasure and adventure. I’ve worked hard to put the pieces of my life together, in a way that makes sense for me. I’ve learned to be intentional about how I live my life. When I was younger, although I had purpose and worked hard, I had a hard time understanding responsibility.
I was a late-bloomer in almost everything. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was eighteen. As an adolescent; I danced six days a week and had missed out on many formative experiences. I didn’t think about life beyond the studio. My idea of responsibility was to make sure I got the latest concert tickets and my idea of dinner was frozen yogurt, popcorn or a soggy sandwich I brought home from my job at campus food service. My housemates were trying the latest drugs and I was suffering from an eating disorder. I didn’t know how to type, and had few job skills. My idea of a relationship was someone to go to parties with. I didn’t have self-respect. I dated guys I didn’t even like, because they seemed cool.
I’m sad. Thinking of the many years that I didn’t respect or love myself. I did dumb things like getting in a car when the driver was drunk, living with roommates who had no ambition other than to party as much as possible. But I also didn’t think about what was right for me, didn’t listen to the direction and advice of others, pushing forward without planning and allowed expectations to override reality.
When my college professors asked me if I was a good fit for the program, I pushed that idea away. I was determined to finish. My self-identity was wrapped up in being something I couldn’t achieve. I didn’t know how to humbly back down, or back up, and try something else. I punished myself daily, trying harder and harder to get to an unreachable goal. Whenever I had the chance, after two to three dance classes for my major and my regular liberal arts schooling, I was at the university gym. There, I would spend hours on the exercise bike, trying to burn off all the food I’d eaten that day. I was certain I’d be accepted as an amazing dancer, if I could just be skinny enough. My own shape wasn’t beautiful to me. I never looked in the mirror and saw an amazing, strong young woman. There was always something wrong with the reflection.
I’m astonished now. My current position is so different than the place I was in the last time I had to make this choice. I’ve come so far. I’ve been able to place myself in my life as the main character, and let the past go. After years of trying to figure out why and where to place the blame, I stopped. I took the reins of the horse I call me, and rode on with pride. I learned to appreciate the moment, instead of dreaming of an unattainable future. I became happy, grateful and beautiful. I knew that I was a good fit for this program called my life, because I designed it’s curriculum, studied it’s workbooks and became it’s number one student. When I decide to look in a mirror, I see a wealth of knowledge and experience, a caring, warm and unique individual who anyone would love to know. I used to beat myself up inside when something went wrong. Now I know how to love myself, forgive myself and move on.
The decisions I make are from a far different place than before. I think about what will make me happy and make sense in my life, instead of what I might please others. My life direction comes from a grounded place, and when that allows space for my emotions, a place to feel them and wisdom to let them flow and be seen. Wisdom to know that I can feel first, then allow myself time to understand what my feelings mean, and use them to inform my next steps.
I learned to face the demons in me, the ones that want me to feel bad about my choices in life, the experiences and ideas that led to them, and the results of my choices. I’ve learned every choice opens some doors and closes others. I’ve learned to respect my feelings and through that, I have been able to set boundaries. It’s ok to feel sad and angry. I’ve allowed myself to feel. Even in a time of stress and worry, of unknown outcomes, I know what I feel. That’s what matters now.