Greetings! Today I return to talk about the processes we use to help us navigate life with all its glories and challenges. Do you have one particular go-to decision-making process? Or do you, as I, use different processes for different situations? The three that seem to be most common for me and others are:
• Making Lists. Psychologist and author Dr. David Cohen mentions three reasons for utilizing lists: they dampen anxiety about the chaos of life; they give us a plan that we can stick to; and they are proof of what we have achieved in a particular time frame.
• Creating Flow Charts. This option provides a visual, graphical representation of the different elements in the process. A flow chart often incorporates Yes/No options which will, depending on the response, lead to alternative next steps.
• Winging It. This is when we proceed without any real plan in place, having confidence in our ability to make decisions on the fly. (Sidebar: the term apparently originated in theater, inspired by actors who didn’t learn their lines and were thus relying on prompts from people standing in the wings of the stage.)
Lists are my usual go-to, and I create them with pen and paper, in Excel spreadsheets, and in my phone Notes app. And while I don’t often utilize the flow chart, I do occasionally wing it. But there are times when none of the options mentioned are suitable, such as when there’s a decision to be made where a list — even of the pros vs cons variety — doesn’t suffice, that a flow chart cannot resolve, or when we understand that winging it isn’t going to work. What then? We may experience inertia, where we dwell on the situation endlessly while simultaneously opposing or thwarting any progress. Another option, which I think of as verbal inertia, is tirelessly complaining to family, friends and/or colleagues without any attempt to accept input in order to implement change. But there’s at least one more possibility for us, and that is the process of trust.
Trust is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something. (webster.com) It involves faith and belief and hope. It requires patience. It requires action, although generally of the internal, spiritual variety. Trust requires that we delve deeply into ourselves, penetrating through the blockages created by the mind so we are able to access our intuition and inner knowing. This isn’t easy, particularly when trust guides us in the opposite direction from what the mind is telling us.
Now might be a good time for a little clarification. The mind isn’t to be confused with the brain. Our brain is absolutely essential for our existence and keeps our body functioning. Our mind is the source of thoughts, feelings, behaviors, etc. and serves us well in many instances. It is the small mind that gets us into trouble. Many Buddhist traditions use the term small mind to describe the ego and say it’s “a restless place of delusion that is colored by the wants, needs and impulses of the ego. It is sometimes referred to as ‘monkey mind,’ a metaphor that reflects that this small mind is easily distracted and jumps from one thought to another, seeking satisfaction from the world outside itself.” (yogapedia.com) In the act of seeking outside satisfaction rather than inner peace, we do ourselves a disservice. We defy our purpose because we stray from our intended path. We wound our soul. We dishonor ourselves.
So how do we honor ourselves? Trust. Trust that the discomfort in our stomach is a legitimate indication that what we’re thinking, feeling, or are about to implement is not the correct choice. Trust that the blinking lightbulbs, repeating numbers, feathers and other objects that appear consistently are signs from the other side sending a message that we would be wise to receive. Trust that the inner voice is telling us the truth the ego refutes.
Trust isn’t always easy. In fact, it most often isn’t. But with practice and patience you can learn to move forward in trust rather than in the fear generated by the ego.
As I so often do, I share now a personal story about a recent battle between my small mind (aka ego) and my inner voice (aka trust or intuition). Just last month a friend reached out to ask if I would be interested in participating in an upcoming workshop her mastermind group was planning. The workshop will consist of only six members and be held outdoors. My fee was up to me. At this point any Covid-related fears had been alleviated. This was sounding pretty good! The service being requested was a group Reiki session. [This is when my inner voice began murmuring.] While there is no obstacle to simultaneously sharing Reiki with more than one person, this isn’t how I generally work. My gut (intuition) told me to decline the job. My small mind, however, was quite insistent that I banish that silly notion and accept the job. So I sat with the issue for a few days. Each time I began to hear my inner voice, my small mind kicked in with logical arguments such as revenue and exposure to new clients. But my inner voice insisted that this wasn’t the right choice for the participants or for myself. My small mind was in total disagreement. I declined the invitation to provide a group Reiki session, offered an alternative that the group declined, let my small mind convince me to reconsider my original response, but ultimately stuck with the initial intuitive guidance I received. That is the process of trust. Time-consuming. Complicated. Headache-inducing. Esoteric. Always right.
I don’t know why I was guided to refuse the offer presented in the example above. I won’t ever know what the result of saying yes would have been. I know only that my inner voice very clearly told me that it wasn’t the right choice, and I listened.
For every one of us there have been and will continue to be many occasions where trust and the small mind do battle with one another. Don’t let ego win. Find a quiet place, breathe deeply, allow the monkey mind to settle into some semblance of stillness, and connect with yourself. Feel. Sense. Listen. Trust. In the end, it’s trust that will always serve your highest interest.
“A good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~ Carl Rogers
“Life is a process, and most of the time it’s impossible to predict where the journey will lead us.” ~ Vera Wang
“The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.” ~ Max Lerner
“Trust your journey, trust the process, raise your energy and the right people will come into your life.” ~ Steven Aitchison