Our lives are predicated on choice. The freedom to choose just about anything is truly our blessed right, however we are so often enslaved to the process of deciding, and caught up in there being a hierarchy amongst the potential answers—the best, the worst, the mediocre—that the liberation bit gets lost.
What adds to the trickiness is that embedded in this hierarchy, and pounded into us from early on, is not only the best/worst classification, but too, and even more problematic, the right/wrong one. In mathematics, this is true; there is one right answer, one right choice. Yet when it comes to life decisions, like where to live, where to work, whom to date, where to raise children, how to nourish our whole selves, the right/wrong, black/white thing is pretty unreasonable, or more pointedly pretty artificial. We grow so afraid of choosing “wrongly” that we go crazy in the process, presuming that we are potentially on the brink of ruining our lives.
I have notoriously struggled with making decisions. When I was living at Zen center so many years ago, there came a time at the end of the practice period where I had to decide if I was going to continue my leave of absence by staying on, or go back to school. I agonized. I lost sleep. I had formal and informal meetings with Norman Fischer, the abbot and leader of the practice period at the time. He even gave me a Japanese calligraphy of the word Decision, as he had been made so intimately privy to my struggle. You know what I ended up doing? Neither, but that’s another story.
What was once deep agony has with practice been downgraded to moderate stress, which obviously still stirs the pot. A couple months ago, I got anxious in deciding which multi-vitamin to take. I chose one that in my mind sounded really great, pure, and was food-based, so was by far, I convinced myself, the most fantastic of the bunch. Well, I took it and had a horrible allergic reaction. And for one or two days I got really upset with myself for my choice. Why did I do it, if I had only chosen differently, you get the drift. I mean, seriously, how was I supposed to know? The main thing, when we make one not-so-fortuitous decision, is to absorb it, drop our fear, and of course act wiser when food-based is an option in the next supplement showdown.
There is also the sense with decisions, that someone, anyone, everyone out there, knows better than we do, as if they were the ultimate experts on us. It’s silly, honestly. But if you have a hard time deciding like I do, let me be the first to tell you, you truly are your own supreme expert. You truly do know what is the best choice for you. You just have to give yourself a chance to be quiet, and intuit out what feels true, not from a reactionary frenzied wild place, but from a deep delicious in-touch place.
Here’s my final plea: How about you set as your base intention taking the pressure off of making decisions, and let yourself be guided more organically instead, so that the next time you freeze in the cereal aisle, you smile and know it is symptomatic of being frozen about the bigger forks in the road. You smile too because you know that this classic moment is the perfect clue—and cue—for you to seriously thaw out and relax.