We all have ‘em. “Should I go to the gym or lounge on the couch tonight?” “Does it makes sense to tell my mother to give me some space or will she totally freak out when I do?” “Is it better to invest in a class or save my money?”
Very often, we have way too many options. That makes the confusion even thicker. How are we to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for us?
The Gentle Self is frequently plagued by doubts. Always having the needs of other people on their minds, it’s difficult to know one’s own desires. “Sure, my mother would like me to call her every day, but it gets to be too draining for me. Do I have to courage to face her, or is it going to be even harder for me to deal with the consequences of telling her off?”
When in the grip of indecision, we have to make room for ourselves. There are many ways to look inside and ponder what you need. It’s often enough to just sit down for a couple of minutes, close your eyes and shut out the wolrd. What is your mind obsessing about? Give each option some mental space and observe what feelings come up.
Is there a sense of pressure or fear when you picture confronting your mom? Or is it spitefulness? And what comes up when you imagine letting it go? Is it resignation? Relief? Anger? We have to cut through the chatter of our doubts and sense what lies beyond the endless questioning.
The body too, has a way of letting us know what is right. The New York psychologist and philosopher Gene Gendlin1 developed a technique called “focusing.” He teaches to observe where in the body our emotions are stored and how to get in touch with our innate needs and desires. He stresses that every one can learn it, no therapist required.
Anxiety usually takes a hold in the neck muscles or the belly. Pressure can often be felt in the chest. Women have traced the bodily sense of fear or desire to their womb. One of my patients felt the indecision in her throat, as if her voice was blocked by the doubts.
Once we have a bodily sense of our emotions, we check in with ourselves and let the mind create metaphors. “The fear I feel when imagining confronting my mother sits right on my chest, like a ton of bricks weighing me down. I need to lift the burden so I can breathe easier.”
Writing, too, clears things up. You don’t have to keep an elaborate diary. Just sit down and jot down some thoughts when you feel confused. Try to find the right expressions that match your feelings. Putting words to the thoughts makes things clearer and untangles the muddled mess of thinking. Even if it’s just one step closer to a decision, it is one step further than you’ve been.
photo credit: hang_in_there
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Last reviewed: 3 Jan 2012