Which action is appropriate in the situation you are facing?
Communicate. Don’t communicate.
Do something. Do nothing.
Get going. Take a nap.
Eat. Don’t eat.
Pray. Don’t pray. (I know. There are some people who think you should always be in prayer, but suppose you’re accepting an Academy Award. Do you say, “Let us all join hands and bow our heads in prayer.” Mmm. Maybe not. )
Knowing when to do something and when NOT to do that thing is so case specific. There really is no one rule to follow always. Many times it is not clear at all and making a decision causes us worry and even panic.
I will never forget a hilarious monologue a student did once in class: she played her upper class British mother trying to decide whether to take some wheelies for her luggage as she prepared for a trip. “Should I? Shouldn’t I?” She kept repeating worriedly in a lovely English accent. We were falling on the floor laughing probably because we recognized how ridiculously upset we can all get about the smallest decision.
I find that if I Get Present, I will usually know the right action to take. Getting into my “gut truth” and stopping my mind helps enormously. So many times I think I should do something or not do something but I’m confusing myself with “shoulds” or guilt.
Sometimes I will consult a method of Divination—like the Runes (kinda like flipping a coin). Amazingly, that seems to work too. I draw two Runes (out of the 24 little stones with viking symbols) and ask, “What will happen if I do this?” and “What will happen if I do that?’ The answer can be very clear forcing me to face a truth that I may not want to face.
Sometimes I will ask a friend’s advice. Fortunately, I have some wise, experienced friends.
It seems as if life is a mine field of decision-making.
Recently, I helped a friend put together a white wooden wall unit from Ikea. Afterward, we sat together on her new Ikea futon admiring it. She began fussing a bit about what exactly to put in all the 24 cubby holes. “This is the kind of thing that is going to keep me awake all night,” she said frowning. I laughed. (Hey, I don’t have to decide, do I?)
Of course, the size of the decisions we’re facing makes a difference, but the process is the same whether they are large or small ones. Row? Let go?
Why is choosing what action to take so difficult? Fear. Am I doing the right or the wrong thing? Will I be hurt if I do this? Will someone be mad at me if I do that? Will I be judged? Will this contribute or harm? Will I feel better or worse? So many questions around even the simplest decisions. I have watched people torment themselves regarding decisions in the Row/Let Go category–arguing both sides ad infinitum until they are literally paralyzed.
Getting Present is so important. How helpful it is to become conscious of the fear (and attached anger, sadness and guilt)–to feel it until you get to a calmer state when whether to Row or Let Go is clear.
Okay. Shower now? Or after I meditate? Eh. Where did I put those Runes?