#91 What to do When You Don’t Know What to Do, Part I

don't know what to do

Do you feel so much overwhelm that you don’t know what to do or where to start? This post and the next, #92, act as a guide to steer your mentality in a positive direction before you take drastic action.

I. Step 1 Pause

If you don’t know what to do, are you open to pausing for a few minutes at a time… multiple times?

Close your eyes and think of everything gone wrong (and right). Think of all the things you didn’t get, the things you didn’t accomplish, the people that failed you, etc. Visualize, or write down, all these items as if they’re swirling around together like a disturbed hornet’s nest.

That’s the first thing to do when you don’t know what to do. Pause to simply observe.

Pausing includes:

  • closing eyes
  • taking deep breaths
  • observing the nest
  • not reacting
  • focusing on nothing except observation

Pause as often as it takes until you master it. There are no rules. Play with it and figure out what resonates with you. And for additional details, see Post #63, Ease Anxiety, Soothe the Mind.

II. Step 2 Accept

Enlightenment, according to psychologist Dr. Robert Puff, is the “radical acceptance of what is.”

And it can be so tough to accept what is! But, are you open to trying it? Imagine yourself coming to terms with all the things and with all the people – and what that might take.

Can you accept “What Is” by fully recognizing that these events/results have occurred? 

Important note here! To be clear, this acceptance exercise is not about forgiveness, justifying, un-doing things or making amends in your life – we aren’t quite ready to address these issues yet.

Challenge yourself to pause and accept what is. That means you don’t:

  • reject the world as it is
  • resist things or people as they are
  • cover-up situations or events
  • change what is

When you don’t know what to do, step 1 is to pause. Step 2 is to practice the art of acceptance. Then, you are ready to create distance…

III. Step 3 Distance

It is common for us to use descriptions such as, “I am lost,” or “I am a failure,” or “I’m clueless.” This inaccurate phrasing twists the true meaning behind these statements, and not in a good way! 

A statement that starts with, “I am” technically refers to your state of being. Your state of being, or humanness, is constant. Always. However, the emotions we experience are not. And as a human race, we will intermittently experience the whole spectrum of available emotions. 

Let us not conflate the emotional experience of feeling, which is a verb, with our state of being, which is a noun.

Therefore, if we want to describe our feelings/emotions, it is much more accurate to state, “I am experiencing this,” or “I’m feeling that.” Emotions are NOT synonymous with your state of being. 

Therefore, we will state what we truly mean:

  • “I am experiencing what it’s like to feel lost.”
  • “I am feeling like a failure.”
  • “I am noticing that I feel clueless right now.”

This exercise focuses on your experience of emotions, independent of your state of being.

Keep in mind along your journey to practice labeling emotions as opposed to labeling your person. This allows you to create distance. Distance is helpful because feelings/emotions are always temporary!

I emphasize again: the experience of feeling human emotion (a verb) is NOT synonymous with your state of being (a noun). See Post #92 to continue this exerice.

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