Imagine perpetually falling down a black hole and never hitting a bottom. This is the emotional space you occupy by not making a choice – especially a major life choice, such as your home, partner, career, etc.
Many of us are endlessly falling down this pit of despair because we fear making the wrong choice. Maybe we made decisions in the past that led us to feel such great pain, that to choose again is unthinkable. Or, we are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of options, paths, and varieties on the table that we are paralyzed.
This has been me before, on both accounts. But, I overcame the hell of being caught in limbo by taking action. It’s not something you do once and then you are free. Our experience of freedom versus stuck-ness will always exist on a spectrum, except in brief moments.
Not making a choice is like drinking poison. Because of the insidious nature of suffering, indecision can creep into our consciousness without our even noticing. A massive failing of choice (real or perceived) can easily leak down into doubts over which cereal to buy at the grocery store and which entrée to order for dinner. At that point, life begins to feel like a gigantic question mark is constantly staring us in the face. Yikes! Pretty distracting and unnerving, indeed.
So what do we do to get out of this self-imposed prison?
Nothing will clarify both external and internal truth better than taking action. Action produces consequences and feedback that we can then integrate into our understanding of the world and ourselves.
“Action is the antidote to despair”
– Joan Baez
This is why fear is humanities worst enemy. Fear is holding ourselves back. Fear is being ignorant. Fear is choosing safety over the mere possibility failure. Fear leads to suffering. Fear is suffering. As you can see, the prison of indecision is not a personal problem. It is a societal problem. The more you unchain yourself from indecision, the more humanity as a whole evolves and grows.
What choices are you putting off because of fear? What do you need to take action on now? What cannot wait any longer? Today is the day to take care of unmet needs, unresolved conflicts, and unmade decisions. You can do this.
I recently started the practice of saying a gratitude prayer before eating every night. You might imagine me pressing my hands together and conjuring images of God, but that’s just not how I do it. My method requires no religious affiliation, or even a belief in God. The purpose of my pre-dinner prayer is simply to appreciate the food I am about to put into my body. That’s it.
I’m going to share with you exactly what I do.
The prep – I first remove distractions and light a candle (totally optional).
I sit down at the table with my food and turn off any podcasts, music, or TV. Then, I light a tea candle. The only reason for the candle is the role this plays in habit formation. I took a page from Charles Duhigg’s literal book, “The Power of Habit” and set up lighting the candle as a cue to solidify the habit. Each night, this begins my ritual of saying thanks.
The prayer – I reflect on three key points for a full feeling of gratitude.
1) Thanks to the Universe for providing me with the various tools and ingredients in order to make this meal
I first acknowledge each of the ingredients that make up the meal, sometimes reflecting on where it came from and how it came into being. I will appreciate that so many things had to happen in order for this meal to happen – for example, the food had to be grown over a long period of time and transported many miles to the grocery store.
2) Thank you to myself for taking the time, energy, and effort to make this meal
Next I give myself a “pat on the back” for being intentional with my food and taking the time to feed myself. Hopefully, it’s the healthiest food I could get my hands on. I appreciate myself for nourishing my body and tending to my needs.
3) Appreciation of the power and importance of this food
Finally, I experience a moment of awe and wonder at the power of food. It is very literally the fuel of my life. When I acknowledge the fact, the food tastes that much better. But more importantly, I feel so grateful to have it.
This powerful ritual really builds over time. It’s now a natural part of my evenings. I recommend you find your own spin on this practice, because your best version of “saying grace” will almost certainly look different than mine. And if you do try it out, I’d love to hear your variants, or any other comments and feedback.
In great appreciation,
Friendly Warrior is a Personal Development Blog abundant with wisdom and honesty — Ethan Small has been posting to Friendly Warrior since 2013 with the intent of inspiring others to improve their quality of life.
First time here? Start with these posts:
10 Reasons Pain is Good
5 Steps to Eliminate Worry
Persistence Makes Perfect