I wrote recently about choice-making. Here’s why: I find myself at an influx in several ways – I’m unsure of where to land, who I’m going to land there with, and the very important question of what exactly to do next. I am lucky that I have too many rather than too few ideas. While I’ve loved living in a New England “city” in many ways, a recent trip to Philadelphia confirmed that I miss the food and the sounds and the art and the community of a CITY city. I feel ready to go back, I think. Right? Hmmm.
Not knowing what’s next is a Scary thing. It is on the list of the most anxiety-producing things for those of us that love to hold onto control in the name of self-preservation. When we don’t know what’s next, we can’t prepare ourselves adequately for possible outcomes, and so we have to sit in the discomfort of the Not Knowing. My clients don’t tend to like this, and I don’t tend to, either.
And So, The Next Right Thing.
In her book Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle very aptly identifies the process of moving forward when we are in the Not Knowing by doing the Next Right Thing. In moments of crisis or change, this does not need to involve big list-making, meditation, the weighing of pros and cons, etcetera. This can be (and is) as simple as checking inside of ourselves and naming what we need at that very moment. For example: I am going to feed myself something nourishing and satiating right now. I am going to move my body. I am going to go back to bed. I am going to complete this project. I am going to journal for ten minutes. I am going to feed my children. I am going to clean the toilet. I am going to sort these clothes. I am going to call my best friend. I am going to say yes to this invitation; I am going to say no to this invitation. Etcetera.
Identifying the Next Right Thing extracts some of the Scary from the human experience of crisis and Not Knowing. It is unreasonable to attempt to make a thorough plan to move ourselves to a new city in a new way within one day, but we can take many tiny steps in that direction over the course of many days, and honor our own thoughts and needs by acknowledging them along the way. We can be intentional, and we can make small moves. We can take the time to take very good care of ourselves. We can consider what is right for us. We can allow ourselves not to know answers, and not to make decisions about them, because we are making decisions about other, smaller things. I will write this blog post. I will sit quietly in the garden for ten minutes. I will make myself a cup of tea. I will rest. Rest seems to be a big ticket item in the Next Right Thing – we need as much of it as we can get when we are Deciding.
Taking a Moment, Going Inside
I’ve written before that the practice of meditation intimidates me. This is still true. When I consider meditation, I picture sitting for many minutes at a time, and am unable to convince myself that I should be doing something, that something should be happening. (To be fair, I do practice, but it isn’t my most favorite thing). This is not how I feel about taking a moment to check in with what’s going on inside of me and identifying the Next Right Thing. This act is smaller, simpler, and comes more naturally – asking myself what it is that I need, and hearing an answer almost every time. I need to be alone. I need something delicious and decadent. I need to be near the water. Taken in these small chunks of going inside, a whole day can pass in which I’ve done my best to take very good care of myself, and my insides appreciate this. This is my plan in this current moment of Not Knowing. I trust in myself, and in this process.
What is the Next Right Thing for you right now, today?