How do you know if you are making the right decision?
You spend hours and hours contemplating your fate on either side of the coin. If I do this, my life will look like this but if I do that, then my life might look like that. It’s as if there isn’t much differentiation in the two choices and yet the choice means everything. The choice is a stakeholder for a turning point in your life. From now on you’ll look back and say “Yes. I remember that. That was when I chose to… instead of … “.
Perhaps we put too much weight on our ourselves throughout a decision-making process. I know I often feel crazy until my mind is made up. The constant waffling and second-guessing is the worst. I often think, why can’t I just follow my gut and move on? But that’s just it. There is often this huge gaping whole between your heart and your brain. One feels right, the other one makes good sense.
Throughout my life I can definitively point to choices I made out of logic versus choices I made out of instinct or passion. The logical choices were never fun. In fact, most nearly I pouted a bit after the final decision was made, even though I was the one who chose it. Still, some part of me felt “responsible” reassured and “respected” for choosing the logical path. Logical decisions of mine include finishing my college degree and taking regular 9-5 jobs.
On the flip side, the choices in my life that were made out of passion and intuition have been the ones I am most proud of. These choices leave me feeling wild and free despite the crazy amount of criticism I may receive from others. I wasn’t behaving in their minds, but in my heart, I was exactly where I needed to be. These decisions were the harder path, the road less traveled by and basically just based on a whim. I don’t regret any of these choices. Intuitive leaps include leaving school to pursue my dream of waitressing and quitting my job to move to Australia.
I heard a TEDx podcast the other day that discussed the idea that women are raised to be perfect while men are raised to take bold risks and be comfortable with failure.
Socially, this is how we are taught from a very young age. I can attest that the majority of the time when I have made a “logical” decision, I was basically just trying to be perfect, taking the easy way out because it was expected and safe and financially secure. On the other hand, men don’t seem to worry as much about being financially stable or physically safe. They tend to just do what they need to do and move on. Maybe this comfortability with risk is what often gives them greater successes and bolder risks. Yes, they fail, but they first had to risk. Many women avoid the risk because they don’t want to be seen as less than perfect. It’s our socially engrained ideology that trips up our subconscious.
So why are we so afraid to fail? In regard to either gender, there is always a sense of fear in not being “enough” or not making a sound decision that will provide us “the good life.” In this American mindset, we fear more than anything not having as much as our neighbor. What if we can’t afford a new car or a nice home? For some reason, we associate lesser materialism as a sign of failure when in reality it just isn’t true. What would actually happen if you took a leap of faith and tried to start your own business? Would you actually go broke and homeless? Probably not. Most likely you would struggle and cut your spending and stop paying so much for coffee and subscriptions and clothes that you don’t really need. You’d live on less for a while and at the very worst you’d throw in the towel and apply for a job at McDonald’s to cover your booty for a bit.
See? Not that bad. Not that bad at all when you think of what the pursuit is really about. When it comes to desires of the heart, you absolutely have to say yes, or else your life will be miserable. The heart knows what it wants. Your brain just gets in the way.
But perhaps there are times when we should make a logical decision. You know, when we really do need a good paying job for a while, or when we really do need to save money on insurance.
I think the negative thoughts are exactly those. We think we need something in order to play it safe or maintain our sanity. The truth is the only thing we truly need is to love the life we’re living with all of our hearts. Every decision, thought or action we make must come from this place of self-love or else it is useless. If not out of love, our decisions are made out of fear. That, to me, is the greatest journey of each lifetime. We are constantly learning to love ourselves in stronger, more intimate ways. Why should we cower in fear if we truly believe in our own best interest? The Bible says perfect love casts out fear. It also says there is no fear in love. The two are literally enemies. They cannot exist together. You either choose fear or you choose love. You may fool yourself into thinking one covers the other, but that just isn’t possible. Fear and love are two very different things.
I’ve heard people like Elizabeth Gilbert explain that fear is inevitable and we should just invite the fear to come with us on our new journey. In theory, this makes a lot of sense. If fear is inevitable, why not embrace it with love until it dissolves entirely? It seems as though the second we choose love, our fears panic and squirm in need of attention. The fear cries out in doubts and anxieties, making us second guess our love-based decision. And yet when we choose the safe route to calm our fears, the pang of love quietly yearns in our gut, twisting and turning and making us feel like a sell-out. Can we really choose one over the other? There is definitely a big paradox between the two. Fear and love are somehow ying and yang, inherently different and yet inseparable.
As we go about making decisions, let us keep in mind our friends: fear and love. Ask yourself, are you making this decision out of a place of fear or out of a place of deep self-love? What is it that scares you about the decision? Is the fear of failure an act of self-sabotage because you’ll have to be brave and vulnerable or is the fear of failure deeply rooted in insecurity for what others will think of you? Ultimately, who wins the battle of heart vs. logic?