Something weird has happened over this last year. Every single one of the means I used to navigate my world has shown itself to be utterly unreliable.
As all of these previously vital systems gradually left my life, I was briefly like someone wandering in the middle of the desert without a compass.
Then, as I stayed in the conversation about what is really true about our minds and how they work, I saw how we all have access to the only true navigation system that we will ever need.
Here are the ways I used to rely on:
What other people told me to do – I’ve just finished re-reading the Remains of the Day. It is a story of a butler who did what his employer told him to do, because he believed that was his duty and that his employer would always be right. At every turn, the butler ignored his own wisdom. It is devastatingly sad.
My thoughts – from one moment to the next I think something is a good idea, then I don’t, I like someone then I don’t, I want something, then I don’t. Deciding something on the basis of what I think about it in that moment is like deciding something according to whether the sun is behind a cloud or not.
My feelings – all of these changing thoughts create ever-changing feelings: happy/sad, fearful/gung-ho, calm/angry. It really no longer makes sense to do something because I feel like doing it or not doing it because I don’t.
The effect I want on other people – I’ve done so much stuff in the past to try to impress people or have them like me and I’ve not done even more stuff because I worried what they would think. I will never ever know what people are thinking of me. I will never know what impresses them or not. To second guess all of this and then act accordingly is a total waste of time
My insecurities – ’nuff said.
Because it is difficult – this is a really interesting one. Some of my clients talk about how life should be tough and hard as it shows you are putting in the effort. If it is not, then you are just coasting. I’ve had the same belief in the past. What I am seeing now is that a belief in whether something is difficult or not is just a thought. Using ‘difficulty’ as a synonym for validity and for a reason to do it just does not make sense.
Because it is easy – it is also interesting to see what clients believe is easy for them and therefore something they should stick with. I had this in relation to public speaking. Speaking to one person at a time was ok, two was difficult, three was scary, four was a presentation and was therefore terrifying. My ‘comfort zone’ of one person was totally made up and arbitrary. Sticking with what feels comfortable and easy is to lock ourselves up in an imaginary castle.
Whether I had time or energy: the truth is that both of these ideas are held in thought and change in accordance with our state of mind. We have as much time and energy as we ever need.
So what are we left with?
We are left with the absolute pure miracle of knowing or not knowing. Both are 100% reliable. Both are personally unique to us and universal in quality. Both are, in effect, the same thing.
Both are pointing in the same direction – inside. Within us is the space for the answer. It might not be there right now but it will be. The not knowing is simply knowing that the answer is there.
The knowing can appear in many ways. It can be a quiet inner voice saying “That just makes sense”. It can be a sense of deepest calm or inevitability or obviousness. Or it could be upbeat and sparky ‘Of course! That’s it!’ It is the naked Archimedes running into Syracuse shouting ‘Eureka’. It is the ah ha moment. You might sense it in your gut or in your heart or in your whole body. It is the clearest recognition of truth or rightness or fit. You might rush out to take action immediately or know you need do nothing.
Everyone reading this blog will have had this knowing many many times in their lives whether it was what curtains to put up in the living room or who to marry/not marry, whether to take a new job or what to have for dinner, what to do that saves a situation or a life or what to watch on tv.
The not knowing is equally peaceful and exciting, equally clear and obvious.
And when we see it, this brilliant creative idea, this peacefully exciting knowledge, we have two choices
- Allow it to simply flow out in the world through us, in the way that only we can express it, to do what it is there to do
- Assess it according to what someone is telling us to do / our thoughts about it / our feelings about it / whether it is too difficult or too easy / our insecurities / what others will think of us as a result. Then decide it was a terrible idea.
Let’s go with option 1. Better all round.