How to Invite the “Next Right Step”
Last week I wrote about a new approach to New Year’s resolutions. What if you want to be resolved about something, but you’re not? You want to act – feel like you should or even need to – but you are deadlocked within yourself about what action to take?
Am I with the right guy, in the right job, in the right city? I feel bored. What’s next? I feel stuck. Which direction should I go? Being in limbo, with no clear path, can be very uncomfortable. We say to ourselves, “I need to make a decision.” But is this true?
I invite you to bring to mind a situation in which you’re feeling pressured to do something, but you don’t know what to do and meditate with The Work along with me.
I need to make a decision.
Is it true? Yes, it feels true.
Can you be certain it’s true? Or: can you absolutely know it’s true? I think of question two as the “god question,” because it reminds me how limited my perspective is and invites me into a bigger one. How can I know anything absolutely? Can I really ever be certain? My body begins to relax, and my breath slows and deepens with this question.
How do you react when you believe it? Question three holds a mirror up and shows me the consequences of my thinking. When I believe that I need to make a decision, I see that the pressure of that “need” instantly fuzzes my thinking. I feel tense, I stop breathing, I feel trapped. I either whine to others to make the decision for me, or I withdraw because I feel ashamed of my confusion.
Who would you be without the thought? Remember that in question four, the situation remains the same: there is still a decision to be made! What’s different without the thought is that the pressure goes away. What can I see now that I did not see before, when I was blinded by pressure?
I see what I do know, no matter how small. I feel what I do want, no matter how faint. It’s a start – an intention, a direction, or a “next right step” – that I did not have before. You only need one step to get unstuck.
Turn the thought around. . .
To the opposite: I don’t need to make a decision. How might that be just as true or truer than the original thought? With this turnaround, it occurs to me that perhaps I have not made the decision yet because it isn’t time yet. Perhaps other pieces need to fall into place before the time is right, or more time needs to pass. An image of ripeness comes to mind: maybe the decision is not ripe yet, which is why I have not declared it.
To the other: The decision makes me. What does that mean? This turnaround shows me that, in all my experiences, I am being created as much as I am creating. This feels exciting! It frees me from the feeling that this unmade decision has put me in some kind of limbo. Rather, I’m in exactly the right spot on a path that I just can’t fully see yet. I’m just where I am. I’m not stuck, after all.
“I need to make a decision” may not be a painful thought for you but check if it is. What affect does it have on you to believe it? If it creates tension, it’s worth taking a few minutes to investigate – not to talk you out of taking any action at all, but to take the pressure off. Right action is always preceded by clarity, and clarity is like a feather: it eludes a frantic grasp but floats to rest on a calmly outstretched palm.