You woke up before your alarm clock rang, wondering what to do. You researched the answers on the internet until the sun rose. You relentlessly asked your friends. Or maybe you stared at the ceiling every night, hoping that your god, your ancestors, or a UFO, would send you an answer.
Finally, you made a choice. I mean…. you had to.
So how do you know if your choice was the “RIGHT” one? Take a step back and look at your own body and recent actions. Your body knows the answer, often before your mind does! Here are 5 signs that you have made the right decision.
1. You will feel relief. You will feel inner freedom. Wait….WTF does inner freedom feel like?
It feels a little like this, above. But on the inside.
Here’s how your body will tell you: Take a breath. Do you feel like your lungs are squeezed together with iron bands?
Or…do you feel like you could keep breathing forever? If it’s the latter….. you are experiencing inner freedom.
2. You are SO excited to see your friends because you feel positively about sharing with them. (Alternatively: your friends are excited to see YOU.)
You know when you were going through hard times leading up to this decision….. and you didn’t really want to see your friends because you were afraid you’d have to talk about it? Now, you can’t wait to tell them the good news.
OR: Remember back when you were struggling, you used to REALLY want to see your friends & lean on their shoulders?….. But they always seemed busy, or would keep muttering a monotone “I’m sorry to hear that…” ….”…..Gee, that sounds so tough….”? Yeaaaaah. That’s because they knew you were struggling, and it was tough for them to watch. And they were probably a little sick of hearing about it. But they loved you, so they were listening, the way supportive friends do.
When you’ve finally made the right decision, the planets of you + your friends finally spin around the same orbit once more. All of you are happy and joyful, because you are happy and joyful.
3. Your head is spinning with questions, your emotions are swirling at your chest, but your gut is speaking to you from deep down. Bear with me on this, I promise this will make sense in a moment…..
True story: When I was 20 and making a tough life decision, my best friend read me a guided visualization over the telephone in a book entitled “How to follow your intuition” that I think she’d checked out from the library. It read something like, “Close your eyes, lie down, and stay quiet. Get past the tingling in your head. Now listen to your inner voice.” I tried it for an hour, got up, and was like, “What the hell. This is dumb.”
Then I went out and drank all night.
The point of this true story is that #3 takes some level of familiarity with yourself, which most of us do not have. I mean, I didn’t have it. I am still working on it. But after 35 years of meditation and making tough decisions, I am much better at it. Here’s how I figure out which is my inner voice:
a. Give your most bossy, mean friend a coin.
b. Assign one outcome to heads, one to tails, like this: heads, I get penile enlargement surgery; tails, I don’t. You will do whatever the coin tells you to do. Your bossy friend swears they will see to this.
c. Your friend flips the coin. Give it a moment.
WAIT! Before you peek at the results, what are you hoping for right now?
NOW pay attention to your reaction over the result: Is it relief? Is it excitement? Or is it disappointment and horror?
Your FIRST reaction is your gut, your “inner voice.”
Notice just after this first reaction, you get these voices that pile on top of it: “But wait!” “Oh no, but ____ will be so mad at me.” “Nice people don’t do ______.” “But I looooove him! I can’t break up with him!”
Those voices and second-guesses that pile up SECOND are normal, because you are a smart and caring person who considers others in your decisions. Any major decision in your life comes with questions, considerations, and self-doubt.
How do you know you made that right decision? Pay attention to your FIRST reaction. Your deep-down reaction. The other things are worth examining, for sure. But when you’ve made the right decision, your gut will know.
*you can tell your bossy friend to back off now; the purpose of the coin toss was just to measure your reaction
4. A small part of your brain is skipping ahead to all the exciting things you will do next.
You are mourning the end of an era. You might be sleeping a ton to make up for all those sleepless nights of indecision. You are even crying a little (or a lot).
But when you’ve made the right decision, a tiny piece of your brain is running forward into your bright future, no matter how strong your sadness is. That piece of your brain is finally exploring the future you’d always planned to have…. before that plan got railroaded by a high-paying-but-boring 9-5 job, a selfish guy who treated you like crap, or everyone’s well-intended “advice” about how you really need to play it safe and not pursue your dreams.
5. Your mind returns back to the bottom line. You find comfort in it.
Here’s the bottom line.
You get no “A+” on your report card of life. You get no “F-” on your report card of life. You have no freaking report card. You’re left to, basically, figure out ON YOUR OWN if you’re doing a good job or not.
So instead of reading the non-existent manual, you used what you had: You talked to friends, therapists, or your spiritual guide. You used all the self-awareness, all the growth, all the life experiences you had at your disposal to make this choice.
This is the bottom line: You did your best with what you had, at the time you made that choice.
And once you’ve made that major life decision, you have got to hang onto the bottom line. No booming voice or letter grade is measuring your success, and therefore you have questions. Did I do a good job? Was that right?
Sorry, friend. I can’t tell you that. We’re all in this together. It’s scary not to know. But, it’s also empowering.
As my wise friend G says, “Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.”
So have faith in yourself and whatever choice you’ve made. You can never go back and change the past, but you can use every moment you’ve created to move forward, learn, and believe in yourself that much more.
And ain’t that what life’s about? Good luck out there!