If there exists an award for indecision, my former self would have had a wall of trophies, medals, and ribbons.
I’ll call it a product of misled youth-I was always a perfectionist in a paralyzing sense, I never wanted to make a mistake- so I said ‘no’ if (and only if) I was afraid to fail, and everything else was a ‘well, maybe?’ or ‘thanks for the opportunity, I think?’
I became the receiver of my life through this pattern- opportunities would lob my way like softballs and I would react quickly with my bat- no boundaries, no filter, no rules.
Sure, I’ll join the running team- my friends are on it and they think I should.
AP English? Probably. I like to write and although I’m not sure about the college thing… it seems like the right thing to do.
Beauty school? Yeah, okay. You said I’d be good at it so- cool.
The one exception to my floaty-ness was my high school sweetheart- let’s call him Mike. I remember thinking, ‘he’s f-ing funny. I wanna date him.’
So I wrote him a 2-page note ending with the words ‘drum-roll please… will you go out with me?’
My clammy 14 year old fingers folded the invitation 5 times and shoved it through the vent in his locker to nervously await a reply.
When I spotted him later in the hallway between class, my heart about to leap out of my throat, he turned to me, blushing a little and said ‘yeah’.
(ah, young love).
This relationship choice went on for 7.5 years without a reevaluation.
I though the choice I’d made was the one I needed to stick with- even as the relationship crumbled. (no wonder I learned not to make decisions, in my mind, I was stuck with them- they bound me forever).
I wasn’t confident enough to trust myself to make the right choice for me- so I consulted God when things went south.
‘Lord, (who I only looked to when things weren’t going my way, or occasionally for validation…but Jesus doesn’t judge, right?) This relationship isn’t quite right, right? I’m justified in leaving because you want me to… Lord, in your opinion, is it time to move on?’
I already knew the answer to my questions. And I interpreted the excitement in my gut to be ‘divinely inspired’.
When it ended I blamed it on God (he was pretty present in our relationship when it suited us)…
He told me it’s the correct choice so I’m just following orders…
With 10 years of hindsight, I notice how I did everything I could to avoid taking responsibility for my decision. I waited until the circumstances felt absolutely dire- I needed evidence (and a LOT OF IT) outside of myself to make my choice.
I couldn’t merely trust my intuition and my own feelings because I never learned to honor them.
The next relationship pitch came from a guy almost 9 years my senior- he was outrageous and exciting to my 22 year old self and he chose me.
Red flags flying high, I moved in with this man, and eventually married him.
(I made this decision, now I have to live with it).
And by default, I fell into the push/pull of narcissist meets empath- he loves me and needs me and he’s broken… I’m great at fixing things and need to be needed.
He loved me and I was the best thing that ever happened to him (publicly)- and behind the door of our 2nd floor duplex he’d yell about how hard I was to deal with, how lucky I was to have him, how much he hated my family, and how I would never understand the torture he endured from the dysfunction in his childhood. (Could anyone understand it better? He was re-creating it, with me.)
For another 7.5 years (boy, do I have a pattern!) my perfectionist stood tall and rallied behind him- yeah, Steph. You could be better. And they were both right.
When you’re on the receiving end of life, someone else is running the show. ALWAYS. This reactive state leaves you feeling powerless, choice-less, and anxious… always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When I made the decision to leave, it was the first of a series of active decisions that changed my life.
If you really want to change your life, or even just actively participate in it, you MUST live on your own terms. These three questions will get you there every time:
Is this for my highest good and for the good of everyone involved?
There’s no room for self-sacrifice here. In my abusive relationship, me leaving was for my highest good AND his, He needed to get his shit together, and I was done being someone’s verbal punching bag.
Am I excited by this choice?
Your body has wisdom that your brain can’t readily access. When your mind is all caught up in ‘should’s’ and ‘have to’s’ – your body will help you sort it all out. If you’re feeling excitement, energy, or expansiveness around something, you’re generally on the right track.
3 years from now, if I make NO choice and nothing changes and everything is exactly the same, how will I feel?
This over exaggeration will help you discover your true feelings. If you’re feeling stuck somewhere, and thinking about being there for three years sounds like torture to you, then it’s time to move, in any direction, period. As my favorite mentor says: ‘Insight comes from action, not thought’ (Marie Forleo). So get your butt moving, make a choice, and you’re on your way.