I had a long discussion today with a great friend of mine about how you know when you’re doing the ‘right thing’ in your life, or making the ‘right’ decision. We were hearkening back to various crossroads in our lives, when we took a road that changed things for us, and how that felt at the time.
We both felt that when we weren’t sure about whether a choice was right for us, then it actually wasn’t right. The ‘right’ choices, such as the ones we had just been discussing, that changed the course of our lives, seemed easy to us at the time. The triggers, or flags, or invitations to action at these crossroads, looked like coincidence, and we followed up on them without giving it all that much thought.
I was reminded of this the other day when I was remembering how I had felt when I was clearly doing what was ‘right’ for me. There was flow. There was a sense of ease. I’m not saying that it wasn’t challenging, but I had the motivation to meet those challenges and trusted that I would somehow make it through to the other side.
When I compared that feeling, to the feeling I have when I am considering something that I’m not sure about, there is literally no comparison to be made. The two don’t feel anything like one another. I have often heard the saying, “If in doubt, don’t”, which I think is true, but I think it’s more involved than that. If I’m plagued by doubts, then it isn’t the right choice for me, because if it were, I would probably blow off the doubts and do it anyway.
Another part of this decision-making process, unscientific as it may seem, is that ‘right’ choices seem to come from my heart and not my head. I may ‘make up my mind’ but I feel the rightness of it with my heart. If it doesn’t feel right in my heart, I find myself falling back on rationalizing, making lists and formulating arguments, for and against.
I surely know this with my clients. I can tell by the language they are using, whether their heart is behind the choice, or they are talking themselves into or out of the decision. When the arguments get convoluted, or they are trying to convince me, they are most often trying to convince themselves; or rather, trying to convince their heads.
With my clients though, I have the advantage of being able to watch their body language, whereas I’m not always aware of my own. Clients will often shake their heads no, while they are verbally answering in the affirmative. You’ve probably noticed this with people you know. The movement may only take a nano-second. You might not even be sure you saw it; almost like a flicker. But that is the body giving away the person’s truth, even if they aren’t aware of it. In my experience, bodies don’t lie.
When I point this out to people, some are angry at me for giving voice to the part of themselves that they had thought to have safely overridden – a part that isn’t acceptable and might be dangerous. Others are relieved that I am giving space and time to the side of the argument that had not been allowed to speak. Often this response is accompanied by spontaneous tears for having hit home with the truth.
And so my rule of thumb is … compare how you feel when you are uncertain, with what it felt like when you did something that you can now tell, with the benefit of hindsight, was right for you. My friend an I agree that when a choice is right, the synchronicities line up like well-choreographed and rehearsed dancers, with the addition of just the right shot of adrenaline and inspiration.