Focusing Tip #396 – “I can’t manage to settle on one option.”

Focusing Tip #396 – “I can’t manage to settle on one option.”
September 12, 2013 Ann Weiser Cornell

“I can’t manage to settle on one option.”

Renee writes:
I am trying to make a decision about what to study this year. There are many options and directions and I find myself running from one to another. I have been trying to decide now for more than two months with many Focusing sessions…but always the doubts come back and I can’t manage to settle on one option. The doubts tell me I might be missing my true next step and will not be able to grow in my profession as an art therapist. 

I would be grateful for your help me with this tormenting situation! I’ve tried making lists of pro’s and cons, trying to quiet my mind in order to hear the true answer. Every few days it seems my body is quite clear about a path and then come fears and doubts. I do the process again and come to a different answer…

Dear Renee,
Gene Gendlin always says this about decisions: “If you can’t decide between two choices, it’s because neither one is right.”

Let’s pause and take that in…notice what difference it makes to say this inside: The reason I can’t decide between these choices is that neither one is completely right. Does that bring a deeper breath?

So you might approach the decision this way: For each choice, what is right about this choice, and what is not right?

Listening to doubting parts is also important: not to take their advice but to make sure they feel heard for what they don’t want. You can go from not wanting to wanting to life energy. (“It doesn’t want you to miss my true next step…Ah, it really wants me to take MY true next step… What would it feel like to be taking my true next step?”)

It might be that no way, in the real world, is completely right. You might need to decide on an option that doesn’t have everything you want. But at least you will do so with open eyes, understanding why you are making that choice, what you are trading. And saying to the doubting parts that you know they are worried…but this is what we are going to do.

“What would it feel like to be taking my true next step?”

Renee tried my advice, and wrote again: “I focused on the true next step. It felt centered, calm, empowering and strengthening. Nothing on my list suited exactly. How will I truly know, beyond doubt?”

I don’t think it ever works that way: that we know for sure, beyond doubt, before we take a big committed action.

That’s why I say (and I have heard Gene Gendlin say) see if you can take a little action. If you are deciding on a course you will take, go and visit the location, talk to the people, ask to talk to others who took the course before. Try it out. Put your body in the situation. It’s hard to sense in advance; it’s much easier to sense where you are right now.

You may still need to commit without knowing for sure; life is like that. Our bodies don’t know the future, only the present. Maybe the doubting parts will relax when you are not asking of yourself that you be sure; just that you are doing the best you can. 

1 Comment

  1. Paul 2 years ago

    What a beautiful view of decisions. A part of me wants everything to be crystal clear with a coming decision about a life choice. A dreading part woke me up last night with a strong sense my eyes and whole self must live in alarm for fear of what might be going to happen to me if I make that choice. (It makes sense to It, and goes back to traumatic childhood experiences.) But for other parts, that decision makes the most sense of other options available now and feels right. Focusing offers great possibility for growth but it can’t fulfill childhood fantasies that everything can be made perfect. As Self in Presence I can simply listen to my parts, make the choice that feels the most right, and pivot if needed.

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