I Thought I Didn’t Know


You know how sometimes a certain idea or phrase starts showing up everywhere you look? Lately, I’ve been noticing a message jumping out at me from books, articles, podcasts, and conversations. Take action. Take a step in the direction you think you might want to be headed and see where it takes you. If fear is what’s holding you back…maybe you should give it a try.

It seems like good advice…for someone else.

I have a confession. I’ve told you before that one of my favorite journaling exercises is dialoguing with my inner mentor. I’ve told you how helpful I can be to myself when I make a point of listening to the wisest parts of myself instead of just the loudest. All of that is true.

But, if I’m being really honest, I have to admit that I’ve been avoiding my inner mentor lately.

There’s an area in my life where I’ve been struggling to make a decision and choose a direction. Every time I think about it, I repeatedly claim that I just don’t know what to do. I say that I have no idea what I want or even the next step to take.

I’m realizing that might not be entirely true.

I think part of me does know what I want to do. I don’t necessarily know every step of the way or what the end result will look like, but I know more than I’ve been willing to admit.

Why would I do that? If part of me has an idea about what I might want to choose in a question that’s frustrated me for years, why have I been claiming not to know?

For starters, I have a long history of listening to fear over all else. I have let fear’s voice dominate my decision making. Even though I practice intentionally listening for the quieter parts of myself, there are still times when fear drowns them out.

It’s not easy to change the stories we tell about ourselves and our lives. In this area of my life, the story I’ve believed is that I’ll never know what to do and wouldn’t be capable of doing it even if I could decide. Shifting to see myself as someone who knows something she wants to try and is capable of taking steps toward that goal doesn’t happen overnight.

On top of it all, change is just hard. Testing something that matters to us is terrifying. We may not be content where we are, but at least it’s familiar. As long as I don’t know what I want, I can stay inside my comfort zone instead of risking the uncertainty of trying something new.

I started writing out some simple steps to try if you find yourself in this frustrating place where fear is keeping you from a decision you know deep down you want to make, but that just didn’t feel right. There isn’t a specific strategy that will unlock the difficult questions of life. I know from experience that the ways people have tried to help me fix my indecision have often been more frustrating than insightful.

Yes, there are things we can do to engage with our dilemma more deeply, but we can’t force our way to answers. You are a person, not just a problem to be solved. This isn’t about just finding the right answer. It is about who you are.

Most of us face these times of indecision or attempts to avoid change at some point. Whether you have no idea what you want to do or you think you might know more than you’re ready to admit or you’re feeling pretty good about all your decisions at the moment…you are not alone.

I don’t have a glamorous story about choosing my new direction. I reached a point where I couldn’t stand the thought of continuing in the same situation. Staying with what was familiar finally got more uncomfortable than taking the risk to make a change.

I’ve admitted something I want to myself and I’ve even said it out loud to a couple other people. I still feel scared, but in a more excited, energized way. I also feel relieved. Whether we’re aware of what we’re doing or not, it takes a lot of effort to avoid things.

(By the way, I’m not being vague about the answer I’ve been avoiding just to tease you. I’ll likely share more as time goes on, but right now I’m taking tentative first steps. I wanted to share a piece of this right now because I know how frustrating and messy this sort of indecision can be.)

I’d love to know…when have you struggled to come to a decision or make a change?