The way is led from inside: is your decision

Every minute we live is an opportunity to reflect about something.  And often times the conversations I have with all kinds of people take me to a place of reflection about this journey called life. I have been thinking about decisions.

My husband is skillful at making decisions and once talking about how hard it can be, he said to me: “Think that you have read all about parachuting, you have attended al the trainings, you have been at the top of your class, you finish the training and the big day arrives.  Imagine you are at the top inside that plane, right at the edge looking down to the thousand feet that separate you from Mother Earth.  What would be the ultimate task at that moment?  Jump without thinking too much and trusting the process you have gone through… Just jump”.

How simple yet how hard is to take that step: decide, move into action.  Either if is ending an unhealthy relationship or getting married, to quit an unfulfilling job or to take a wonderful promotion at your workplace, to let go of a child because of his/her poor choices or to let go of him/her because he/she was accepted at a great college program in the other side of the country.  Regardless of how “positive” or “negative” the situation might be, we will have to make a choice about how we respond to that situation.

  • Making a decision without worrying excessively about if it is right or wrong.
  • Making a decision because it’s the only way to move forward even when in the process it might look we are going backwards.
  • Making a decision because it will give us more information than staying in the limbo, in between two opposites.

It is an unbelievably difficult action and we are making it even more problematic due to our desperate need of control and aversion to uncertainty.  We are making the decision process more challenging because we are anxiously worried about the future, immensely afraid of making mistakes, terribly ashamed of what others might think of us.  This focus on the external effects is based in our intolerance to make mistakes.

The tendency to be catastrophic about our mistakes stems from the individualistic culture we live in, that reinforces social comparison, competition, and feed the idea that we are never good enough.  We live in the world of blame and shame.  We live in the past and future tenses.  We live disconnected from life and connected to an illusion created by dreamers of dystopias.  Solution?  Yes, there are simple practices that can help us, yet often times we overlook at them because they are not complicated and they require only our own personal involvement.  Some of these simple practices are:

  • Living in the here and now. Kindly accepting all type of experiences (good ones and not so good ones) without labeling them but just taking them as a chance to learn and grow.
  • Becoming a friend for yourself, accepting your imperfect humanity, and embracing your flaws and shadows as an important component of who you are, without self-judgment but instead with loving compassion.

Taking this approach can help us to reconnect to life and to heal the soul.

Decision to delegate:

When we take more than we can carry in our own shoulders we cannot walk long distances without getting exhausted.  So exhausted with that heavy weight we are carrying that we are forced to stop, either by a physical or psychological dis-ease.

I wonder:

  • What makes us believe that we are the only ones capable of doing certain things, either at home or at work?
  • Have you find yourself in situations where you feel so overwhelmed because you decided to take all the responsibilities by yourself instead of asking for help?
  • How about ending up buried in work because you think that you are the only one who knows how to do the job the right way or because you don’t trust anybody to do it, and most likely you will have to review it to make sure is “perfect”? Sounds familiar?

I wonder if we end up filling our plates with so much because we are looking for recognition, because we crave praise and being liked, or because we are, discreetly, so arrogant and so distrustful that we cannot take the risk to delegate functions?  Perhaps, it’s just that we are in the delusion of perfection and cannot tolerate flaws. Either way, it is important to remember our limits and especially how healthy is for us to loosen up little and delegate. Giving ourselves permission to recognize our limits frees space inside us and opens a space for those around us to do the same. Then we can move into a cooperative approach based on the different strengths and weaknesses that all of us have. And most importantly, look inside and ask yourself if your choice of being so busy with the outside world is related to your reluctance of getting busy with your inner world.

Right to refuse:

There are multiple books about  “learning to say: No”. Most of them are related to say ”no” to others either in personal relationships (your spouse, your children, your parents, your siblings, your friends) or in the workplace, where often times we refuse that right for fear of the consequences. What about our right to refuse things that come from ourselves towards ourselves?  What about the right to refuse to mistreat ourselves, to be harsh and hurtful in our self-talk, to crush our souls with self-criticism? What about that?  What about our right to refuse to neglect ourselves?

Unfortunately, it has become pretty common to categorize everything and put labels on us.  In order to do that, we need to compare ourselves with something.  That something turns to be the “role models”, the trends of our society, that are based on what we have more than who we are.  Money, titles, status, looks, possessions have become the parameters to define if a person is successful or not.

But what happen if you loose those things?  Who are you if you don’t have some or any of those external things? What are you left with?  The real treasure is inside, in the being.  Inside you it is the compass to navigate the journey to a fulfilling life.  It might not be evident at first sight, but it is noticeable when you decide to take one step at a time, experiencing life fully in the here and now.

When you allow yourself to look at others with kindness and acceptance.  When you connect with somebody and realize your struggles are shared with other human beings in this planet. Then you might discover how powerful is to look at others with the lenses of kindness, understanding, commonality.  What do you think it would happen if we use the same lenses to see inside our own hearts?  This new view of us, from the perspective of gentleness, kindness, understanding, acceptance, and love, opens up a totally different path.  It changes the way we see ourselves and others, it allow us to exert the right to refuse to treat ourselves with such deprecation and start to take genuine self-care.  It invites the warmth presence and the gentle openness that we desperately need to build healthy relationships with others and ourselves.

Ultimately, living a fulfilling life does not depend on external factors as much as on internal aspects of our human experience.   The path to sustained and profoundly satisfying life lies ahead of us and comes from inside of us.  It comes from the decisions we make about how we relate to ourselves, to others, and to the whole world around us.

Diana Castaño