Finding the way forward ~ while standing (on) our own ground

No one can know what the future holds or what's right for each of us in life.  Some destinies seem more definite than others, but even then outside factors can unexpectedly intervene and turn our worlds upside down.  Our lives take us through hills and hollows, but some seem more right and necessary to us than others.  

How do we find what's right for us?  There are no easy answers and decision-making is tricky.  In the course of these articles I've shared how I've made appalling mistakes by taking other people's advice too literally and of accepting their declarations of truth and faith as having more than individual value.  I have also found more formal and traditional ways of planning and weighing things up fallible, if in a different way.  I've recognised the need to find other ways of working things out and arriving at what's right for me.  I've concluded that the compass I need is within myself.

My guess is that each of us is going to have our own way of doing this.  I'll share the outline of mine here in case aspects of it are useful to others.

I'm both highly analytical on the one hand and naturally intuitive on the other.  I like to take both into account when I'm working things out as neither is complete in itself: logic provides a good mechanism for doing research and checking information, and intuition is helpful for creative insight and impulses.  Where the two intersect, I come to that place of inner knowing if something is right for me or not.  So I pay attention to both, do my homework and then listen to what's going on inside me, especially what's going on in my body. 

If I'm on track I feel steady and calm, even if I'm a bit nervous too.  I also feel hopeful in a level-headed way.  There is a feeling of things being right.  My body feels sturdy.  If I feel any physical drawing back, niggling doubt, sinking sensations or trepidation I back off or consider other options.  I've learnt to hold to what this tells me even if in a logical sense it seems wrong.

If I feel that certainty, I hold to it.  But if it's a big decision I let it sit maybe for a week or so.  That certainty may be over-ruled by other information, other factors, and if so I slip my past certainty into the 'that was interesting' file and move on.  It might be useful for further reference another time.  But not now.  My sense of what is right may change overnight.  Then I stick with that.  Until the next thing comes along. 

While the input of others is important, at times their notions of what is right can be distracting and unbalance us.  I keep listening to how I feel inside and if I've been reticent I usually find out later that my instinct was right all the time.  I call this holding my own ground.  This is the central thing: many influences in the world swirl around us all the time.  We all need to hold our own ground and to make our decisions from that place of inner confidence.

Other distractions may come in the form of group excitement, such as occurs after disasters and during wars.  At such times large masses of people get upset and that energy seems to pool into group fear or over-drive of one sort and another.  When our fight or flight instincts are on full alert it can take considerable strength of character to holds one's own ground, and make decisions and draw conclusions in a careful and moderate manner.  These instincts can be valuable but can also lead us astray. 

If a decision has to be made in a hurry and I don't have time to work things out to my own satisfaction I usually let whatever opportunity is there pass unopened.  If I don't have time to do things properly, they aren't right for me at that point.  Maybe another time.  I don't have to explore all opportunities.

I am wary of high emotions which can make things seem much more urgent and right for us than they actually are.  I see an emotional response as just an emotional response, nothing more.  That has its place but not in the foreground of working out what's important.  So if that's what I experience, I wait until it has subsided before moving forward.  If, after that, I come to that place of calm confidence and inner assurance it's usually fine to go ahead. 

It's also about staying safe.  It's fine to be cautious.  If that's what makes us feel stronger then that's a good choice.  If we make choices which include significant risks we need to have done our homework and to make those choices with care and deliberation.

If we keep tuned to our inner sense of rightness that will swing the balance one way or the other, or in an unexpected, previously unexplored direction.  Taking time for consideration and doing good ground work leaves the way open for opportunities to arise which may not have been evident before.  Of course, this may happen anyway!

If we keep holding our own ground and standing on it fully, we'll stay on track.  If we allow ourselves to be distracted or swayed away into areas in which we feel shaky we are likely to gradually get further and further away from what is right for us.  Then the effort required to regain our rightful path will require much greater effort and possibly cause considerable upheaval.

Sometimes the what feels like the right choice turns out to be wrong, but does none the less lead to the one that is right, which might not otherwise have been able to be reached.  

Over the years that I've been using this approach I've got quicker and more confident at weighing things up and making decisions.  And I'm less anxious generally.  Don't imagine that I no longer get into muddles or make mistakes - there are still make plenty of those, but my batting average is much better than it was.  It's not everything but it helps.

You'll need to work out your own evaluation process.  I wish you good fortune in working out what that is.

To go to the next article click on this link:
Holding the balance ~ and passing the torch

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