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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: May 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Just Don't Know What to Do....

Across the wide range of topics that come in up my office from relationships, to career, to sex, to parenting, folks often say, in many different ways "I just don't know what to do....."

It's very delicious indeed (better than Rocky Road Ice Cream) when we have clarity.  Not the clarity that comes from anger, or revenge or fear or low self esteem or crazy brain on revved-up thinking.  But the clarity that comes from a calm, cool, sweet, quiet, peaceful place in your psyche or soul or heart and settles in like a soft feather or a cool pool of water.... and stays with you a bit.  And you just know.

But that's more and more rare these days.  We are so very distracted.  Our quiet time in minimal.  Our interruptions are maxed.  Phones buzzing, etc.  So I think we are a bit more blocked than we'd like to be from our own innate health and wisdom.  But there is a go to, I believe.

When we don't know what to do, even when we have a list of good options and we still don't know, we can start with a different list:  The What Not To Do List.  That list, we usually have a bit more clarity on, especially the basics.  

Lets take Parenting for example.  You may not know what particular parenting approach is the best at the moment, or what the right words are exactly, or whether to say yes or no or maybe or I'm not sure ask me later.... Or to validate, or just listen or to suggest or to wait or to reassure or guide, or encourage or give in or hold out or lay low or come close or/and... add your own...But we always can fall back on our list of What Not To Do.  What we know does not work, or is against our parenting creed, or goal or the effect we would like to have, or what goes against common wisdom.  (Hitting, name calling, yelling, condemning,  threatening, bullying, judging, ridiculing, attacking, accusing, ignoring, shaming, demanding, berating...  add your own...).  

Same with relationships.  We are not perfect.  We slip up.  But we generally know what points us towards closeness and what creates distance.  We usually know what not to do and that when we do something from the Not List, we are most likely feeling very angry or hurt or insecure or afraid.  And we are not looking past it (hard to do in the moment, of course, but possible with practice and perspective).

Expanding the What Yes (or Maybe) To Do List can often take some time, some unpacking, some poking around in our hearts and minds and psyches and thoughts, and some talking, of course.  And there is always, my favorite:  Do the Next Right Small Thing.  That is, when we know what that is...

But in a pinch, and there are usually a bunch pretty regularly, we can take heart in Not Doing anything from the obvious Not list.  I am not saying that on some irregular occasions there might be something on the Not list that should float over to the Maybe List. (and I do mean float, as in, calm, and planned and coming from wisdom). But we can take heart and go easier on ourselves and others when we  don't know what to yes do, that at least we stayed away from the What Not to Do List and that whatever else we choose, perhaps with some faith, with turn out to be for the good.