Everything in life is a decision. We decide what time we wake up, what to eat, what to wear. And this is all before we start our day. These kinds of decisions are the small stuff. Deciding between porridge and toast is no big deal. No sweat.
But the bigger decisions- that’s when it all gets a bit tricky. There is no back-up button in life, no re-dos. We have to live with the decisions we make. And this is what makes decision making so anxiety inducing. All these decisions can begin to feel like a bit of a shitter.
Trusting the process
Seeing a cake being made for the first time is an eye-opening experience. You mix all these seemingly random ingredients together in a bowl into this spacey looking goop. A sepia version of the custard in the Teletubbies. You put the strange liquid into the oven and hope for the best. And, as it by magic, out pops a spongy circle. And it is delicious!
Baking a cake turns out to be kind of astonishing, like a strange science experiment. But to make a cake you must trust the process. Who knows why you add baking powder? Not me. But I do it because I know it works. I trust in the power of the baking gods to deliver me a fluffy slice of goodness.
Trust is sometimes a difficult thing. To trust means giving up a little bit of our control. Our trust allows us to take a step back. We put the ingredients in the oven and we let the oven do its thing. We trust that a cake will be made. Our trust allows us to believe that everything will go as we intend it.
Fear Based Decisions
I have been working on trying to trust the process more. Much like… hopefully everyone really, I care about my life.
I care deeply about my life.
There are goals I want to achieve, accomplishments I want to obtain, experiences I want to have. I want to grab life by the horns and create the life that is perfect for me. And for a long time the idea of trusting the process felt like the absolute antithesis of creating this dream life. How can you do your best in anything if you are not controlling every element with a vice-life grip. And if you are thinking this sounds like a stressful way to life… it is.
When you feel like every single tiny decision will create massive ripples in your life, it becomes hard to even make those small decisions. For example, I would chose not to talk to someone in a shop or something. And then, in the back of my head, I would think ‘but what if that was actually my soulmate and I have just ignored them and ruined everything?’. I would catastrophise. Like the butterfly effect, this one tiny choice would have impacted everything. The idea of every single consequence was overwhelming. And quite frankly this was leading to bad decision making.
I was making fear-based decisions.
For a long time, I had never heard of this concept, but when I read it for the first time, something clicked. A fear-based decisions is, as the name suggests, making a decision out of fear rather than reason or desire. To give an example, it was the decision to take a job that I knew wasn’t right for me from the get-go. I knew even when I was interviewing for the position, that it wasn’t for me. And yet, when I got asked if I wanted the job, I panicked and said yes. I still had loads of time to find a job. But this was my first offer. And it was a definitive yes. It was the right job for me, but it was there.
And though I initially felt a relieve that I had something, I felt that creeping sense of dread literally days later. And so I spent the next months worrying about it. Pre-empting how I would hate it.
I had allowed myself to ignore both my head and my heart, and instead I went with the fan-fucking-tastic decision of letting my anxiety decide.
And ff you are wondering how it turned out and if I was just being dramatic….
Well *PLOT TWIST* I knew within my first week I had made the wrong decision, cried in a toilet, and left a couple of months later.
That was when I realised sometimes the ‘sensible’ choice is not the sensible choice at all. It feels prudent it gets your ducks in order, to get things sorted as soon as possible. But, ultimately, if a choice is not the correct decision for you, it is not a sensible choice at all. What is sensible about picking something you know you will hate because it is the first option?
What’s carrots got to do with decisions lady?
If we are buying carrots from the shop and the first carrot is moudly and gross we don’t buy it. It would be ridiculous to buy that one carrot purely because it is the first one we picked up. We don’t fret and think ‘but what if I never find another carrot again, a mouldy carrot is better than no carrot’.
This is wrong in two ways.
- There are always other carrots. Even if we can’t see any more carrots in that specific shop, we know if we go to another shop there will be carrots there. Or if, for whatever reason, there is a world shortage of carrots, we know that we will see another carrot in our life time. This carrot is not be the last ever carrot that exists in the world.
- A mouldy carrot is not better than no carrot. A mouldy carrot might make us ill, it will definitely taste gross, and to make matters worse it will get carrot juice all over the shopping bag. And there is very little I hate more than gross food juice. We always have a choice, and sometimes that choice, is the decision to say no.
But whe we are in that fear-based mindset we don’t accept that other things will come along. We think that this is our only shot at ever buying a carrot so we might as well take it. It will do.
When I look back, nearly every questionable decision I’ve made was a fear-based decision. It was a decision based on what I thought would look best on a CV, or a decision that was more about what everyone else was doing. Or even worse, it was based on an imaginary future, where everything looked so bleak that even a shit decision looked ok.
DESTINY (‘s Child)
And quite frankly lads that is no way to live. I chose now to live with trust. Trust that everything is happening according to a plan. Some call it ‘fate’ or ‘divine timing’, and maybe that sounds a bit stupid to an atheistic mindset. And to be honest, if it is stupid, I am cool with that. Trusting that everything is unfolding as part of a larger plan helps me to live in tranquility. It allows me to make thought-out decisions in peace.
And believing that everything happens for a reason not only creates peace with my future, but it helps me with the past. It is much easier to look back at shitty events and find a reason, a purpose for that event. To find a silver lining in every cloud.
Meditating in the morning always feels like a lovely start to the day and this particular meditation by Boho Beautiful has been something that has really helped.
It is a mantra based meditation meaning you can repeat a certain mantra whilst you meditate to help you focus. In this particular meditation the mantra is
“I am exactly where I need to be”
This phrase is all about trusting the process, about accepting the current moment. It’s about trusting that wherever you are right not, whatever you’re doing, is exactly as it is supposed to be. That we are following our destiny if you will.
It is so easy to compare our lives with others, to think that we are at the wrong point in our journey. We see their perfect marriage, job or life and think why am I not at the same stage in my life.
But life simply doesn’t work like that.
We are not factory made being that achieve our wildest dreams at the same age and remain in this euphoria till we die. We are all learning as we go. Sometimes it is reassuring to find this reflected in the life stories of others.
For example, did you know Alan Rickman originally opened a graphic art studio, and only received any critical acclaim for his acting at age 42? Or that KFCs Colonel Sanders was a fireman, insurance salesman and a steam engine stoker before he gained success with those juicy chicken thighs. Or even that Stan Lee didn’t publish his first hit comic book until he was 39.
Though I’m sure this windy path was frustrating, it was their path. It was the road they were meant to take. Who knows what would have happened if Colonel Sanders hadn’t had so many failed jobs before opening KFC. Maybe those experiences gave him the grit, the drive and the confidence to keep going. Maybe his failure led to his success
And none of our journeys are identical. It can be nerve-wracking to look around realise that everyone else is doing something different. But we can only walk our own path. Of course your life journey looks different to your neighbours- you have lived different lives. All we can do is take one step and a time in the hope that it will all make sense one day.
Comparison is the thief of joy
Life can get a bit difficult in the quarantine, but I guarantee you that you are learning something from this experience. Maybe this chapter in your life feels slow and monotonous. But when you are older and you look back at the endless days I’m sure that theres something you will gleam from this. And though it hard, we need to trust that this is all part of the journey.
Butterflys and conclusions
I’ll end this blog with a story that has remained in my mind since the day I heard it. In November the forests of Michaocan attract so many emperor butterflies that the trees and floors look like they are covered in an orange blanket. These butterflies migrate once a year down from the Canada to escape the chilly climate.
Now I bet you are thinking, how does a butterfly travel from Canada to Mexico with a lifespan of 2 to 6 weeks? This is where it gets fascinating. To travel from Canada to Mexico it takes about 4 lifespans of the same butterfly. Meaning that the butterfly that left Canada is the great-grandparent of the butterfly that arrives in Mexico. And yet without fail, as if by instinct, every year these generations of butterfly travel the same route and settle in the same forest in Mexico.
How do the butterflies know where to go? They could pick anywhere hot in Mexico and yet they always settle in this forest. The same forest that their ancestors settled in before them.
Maybe our journey is like the lives of these emperor butterflies. It might not make a lot of sense, and the trip might be a little long, but we all end up where we are supposed to be in the end.
Today’s song of the day all about choices and decisions is Take a Chance on Me by Abba. I strongly believe noone can listen to Abba without shaking that tush, and this one is no exception.
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