When it’s hard to choose
Early this April, I attended a large, full-day symposium for women who are looking for ways to bring new meaning into their lives. As a coach, I held one-on-one sessions throughout the day with different participants. What really struck me about most of the women I talked to was that they are all faced with large, life-influencing choices and are have difficulty deciding.
“Do I stay in my comfortable job or do I quit and start my own business? Do I enter relationship therapy with my partner or do I walk away from the relationship? Do I burn all my bridges behind me? Do I do it now? Or next year if things haven’t gotten any better?”
There isn’t just one simple answer here for everyone. It’s a lot more complex than just saying, “Go for it!”. Following the path your soul is calling you to follow means you will sometimes stand on crossroads, unable to decide. Here are a few tips to help you understand how to proceed.
Take your time
A forced decision will always be made with your rational mind. Following the way of your heart requires time to let things unfold. You will need to listen to all the little Yes, but! voices inside and tell them that you do take them seriously but you will decide for yourself.
If all you feel is confusion, accept the confusion, be patient with it, and wait until it ebbs away. There will be a moment the confusion transforms into deep certainty. That is the moment to come into action.
Pay attention to your dreams
Your soul speaks to you through your subconscious. Your subconscious unfolds itself to you in your dreams. Not through rational stories but through associative images, strange happenings, and archetypes.
If you do not keep a dream journal, this is a good time to start. Write down your dream as soon as you wake up. Write it out with as much detail as you can remember: colors, sounds, images. Write in the present tense, as if you are experiencing it again. Do not try to analyze the dream. And never, never consult a book or another person about what the dream means. Every individual has his or her own dream language, mainly built up out of associations. In my book, Passage of the Stork, my childhood dreams are frequented by a witch, a well-known archetype. But it took me years to understand the true meaning of the witch in my life.
Invite the dream into your waking day. Hold conversations with personages from the dream. Take a walk with an image from the dream. Ignore the narrative and concentrate on the separate images. Note down associations.
Unfortunately, the more unpleasant the dream, the more important it is. Spend time with the ones you want to forget. They probably are reminding you of something you don’t want to see – a shadow side of yourself? A blind spot? A hidden desire?
Talk to a tree
When you talk to people about your dilemmas, they will react from their own projections. The world of nature is a much more honest and patient listener. Find a spot where you won’t be disturbed by other people. Walk around, aimlessly, simply taking in your surroundings. If you see a spot or an object (a tree, a rock, an animal) that suddenly catches your attention, stop and sit down with it. Talk to it, out loud. Introduce yourself and say why it caught your attention, what you notice about it. Then tell it about your dilemma, the choices you need to make. Explain, be honest. When you’ve said everything that needs to be said, fall silent and listen. Wait patiently for the answer. It may be that something happens. You may hear a small silent inner voice. Be open to anything that happens. When you are finished, thank the object or the spot and give it a present – a pretty stone, a flower, something you found along the way.
Important decisions, decisions about the path your life is taking, call for patience, inner silence, and the courage to face your own shadows. Whatever method you use, keep this in mind. I wish you wisdom and strength!
Madeleine Lenagh was born in the United States and grew up in Westport, Connecticut. She moved to the Netherlands in 1970. Madeleine is a trained counselor and body-worker. Additional training in Systemic Ritual®, mindfulness, and Voice Dialogue followed. After a long career in urban planning and project management, she took early retirement and opened a practice for life coaching and counseling. She works with individual clients and organizes workshops, helping people make difficult choices, process grief and loss, learn to take care of themselves, and live their lives in accordance with their soul’s longing. She shares her passion for nature with others through her writing, art and photography, and shamanic practices.
Read Madeleine's life story, Passage of the Stork here.
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