When life gets foggy, it’s tempting to want someone—anyone—to tell us what to do. But true, confident decisions don’t happen that way.
“Mommy, what does it sound like when God speaks to you?” I asked my mom this question when I was no older than five. “It’s hard to describe,” she replied. “You just know when it happens.”
Fast forward about 30 years and I still struggle with this question. When I stumble into a crossroads in life, I turn to my standby ways of knowing to guide me—logic, intuition, signs from the universe, advice from people, and even astrology. But despite more than three decades of experience to my credit, I still get paralyzed and clouded when it comes to the emotionally weighty decisions.
My most recent example came when my oldest son got a provisional diagnosis of ADHD. After numerous therapies, behavioral interventions, and second opinions, it was time to make some decisions about how to help him function in school while keeping his self esteem in tact. At the same time, I was six months deep into a dating relationship, and everything in me was screaming that it was time to decide if I trust enough to put my foot down on what I hoped was solid ground or reach for the eject button.
When we reach these cloudy points in life, it’s tempting to want someone—anyone—to tell us what to do. But true, confident decisions don’t happen that way.
Deciding What’s True
Somehow I ended up moving past my fear and put one foot in front of the other. As I reflect on those steps, here’s how I went about it:
1. Give it time. Even though it may feel urgent, ask yourself would it be okay to take a week to think about this? You don’t have to implement 100% of the physician’s recommendations within 24 hours.
2. Stop thinking in terms of right and wrong. It’s not often that there are purely right or wrong decisions. As someone who has struggled with depression off and on, I believe that medication is not a question of morals. A healthier way to look at it is that choices come with consequences. It doesn’t mean they’re good or bad, and you can’t always know in advance what consequence is attached to any given choice.
3. Take it less seriously. Is this big bad decision really a matter of life or death? Try to widen your perspective and view it in the grand scheme of life. Yes, you can cause yourself more suffering by making poor choices, but ultimately you cannot screw up the divine plan for your life. As Miles Davis says, “Do not fear mistakes—there are none.” Put another way by spiritual coach Nicole Oman, “If you want to be enlightened, lighten up.”
4. Spend time alone. People love to offer you advice based on their own experience—some helpful, some not. Don’t forget that this is your decision.
5. Follow the yum/yuck principle. One of my favorite astrologers, Mimi Clark, often tells her viewers to pay attention to the yum and yuck of situations. Follow what feels yummy, and move away from what feels yucky. It’s not always clear cut, but feel into it, and see what you find.
I’ve made some poor choices in life by ignoring or misinterpreting guidance. But ultimately I did the best I knew how at each crossroads. Keep practicing and forgive yourself when you mess up. And remember that part of life is leaning into the mystery. You wouldn’t really want to know the details of how everything turns out, would you?
Life is about the journey, and it’s our job to enjoy the ride.
What emotionally weighty decisions are you struggling with in life at the moment? What tools are you using to help guide you forward?