Few of us know what’s coming in our lives. Sometimes we think we’d like to know, but we can’t. We make plans and think about the future in attempts to avoid the unexpected, but life seems to have its own sense of direction. We have retirement funds, life insurance and living wills, but we still can’t be sure about anything.It’s amazing we manage at all given how little we really know.
But what if the not knowing were actually the best part of life?
Think about the movies. What do you love about a good movie? The quirky characters? The suspense? The twist? The unexpected ending?
If you knew everything that was going to happen in a movie, would you go? Would you enjoy it as much? I love unpredictable movies full of mystery and intrigue. With the movies, we go to be entertained and for that we need the element of surprise. So, what about your life? How is it different from a movie?
Why can’t we just say, “Surprise me”? Why can’t we be okay with “whatever”?
We want to know, but at the same time we don’t.
We know one thing; our lives aren’t movies, but they aren’t totally random either. Everyday we shape our experience by making choices one after the other. And the majority of our choices are unconscious. Even when they are conscious, decisions can be tough because it’s hard to predict the outcome, even under the best of circumstances. When it comes to making choices, why does not knowing seem so scary?
Maybe it’s scary because big decisions can change our lives. Heck, even small decisions sometimes have a huge impact. It’s easy to become afraid of making a “mistake” and then we get frozen, unable to take action. So maybe the problem isn’t as much “not knowing” as it is how we define the outcome of our decisions. When you make a decision and the result is less than you’d hoped for, do you blame yourself for the choice you made? Do you ever beat yourself up for making a “dumb decision”? Most people do.
If you took a job because you thought it would offer you a nice income and a stable future, but later found out you hated it, how would that make you feel? Or what if you moved in with the person you were dating only to discover he/she is a terrible housekeeper and you just can’t take it? Often when things don’t work out as we hoped they would, we feel like we need to “pay” for our bad choices. You made your bed, now sleep in it…?
That kind of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth.
Society tells us, “There are no second chances,” but in reality, there are – tons of them.
What if, instead of flogging ourselves, we could see our “mistakes” as something of value?
The good news is that our choices don’t determine who we are. Punishing yourself for a decision that didn’t align with your values is a huge waste of time, energy and self-esteem! The real tragedy would be not paying attention to how you feel and staying in a job or bad relationship because you were afraid to admit, that although you made the decision in good faith, it turned out to be wrong for you.
Every time you make a decision, you are experimenting with what is possible for you and your life. The outcome of a decision is really just a piece of feedback, like a guide or a clue to what really matters to you. The outcome of decisions, if used as a scale, can help you determine the things you really need in your life and which things don’t fit in with what you know to be the truth about you.
Take two! – Think about the movies again and the actors who sometimes repeat the same scene over and over to fulfill the director’s vision. They look at the scene and see what’s working and what needs to be adjusted. With each take, they get closer and closer to how they want the story to play out until the director says, “It’s a wrap.” No one tells the actors they are wrong or bad; they just make adjustments until they have the right feel for the overall picture. What if you could see your choices as opportunities to adjust and give yourself the permission for a second or third take, if needed.
A choice is always a gamble, but if you don’t have right and wrong attached to the outcome of your decisions, then they become a little easier to make. Learning from outcomes becomes an asset, a looking glass that reveals your true essence. Trust yourself. Sometimes we will make personal adjustments so our decisions work for us and sometimes we just recognize that we need to choose again. The key to becoming comfortable is to stop punishing yourself and start using the results of your choices to teach you who you are and what is important in your life.