Each of us, at some point in our life, will face a proverbial “Fork in the road.” The upside of these junctures comes from the gift of hindsight and perspective they can give us once we choose and start down one of the “paths.” It is in the actual progress forward that we have the opportunity to learn more about ourselves, which is foundational if we are to get better at making decisions that are congruent with who we truly are. It is also where we have the opportunity to build our self-confidence. Even if we find we have made a mistake at some point down the road, this realization can act to further empower us because it will show us that we are NEVER “locked in” to taking even one more step in what we now see as the wrong direction. Another perk? The progress we have made comes with new perspectives that were not available to us at the onset! At the end of the day, it is better to make a choice and start “walking” than to stay paralyzed by indecision and camped out in a metaphorical “Hallway.”
Some of you may be wondering how a bad decision, with all of the potentially negative consequences that it might instigate, could possibly be better than not making one. To this I will assert that not making one is actually a choice in and of itself…In essence, a decision to stay right where you are, and frankly, “forks” don’t just appear if everything is wonderful…so staying where you are is akin to giving up or settling. Next, I will warn that any decision that is made with the intention of avoiding another, often ends up back-firing, so keep this in mind the next time you find yourself leaning toward making a choice that allows you to escape or delay a seemingly more daunting one. “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” This is one version of a quote by Jean de La Fontaine; a favorite of mine because it is a reminder to avoid getting into the habit of side-stepping our way through life…chances are you will be faced with the same lessons regardless of the path you choose, so why not just trust your gut in the first place?
Make the commitment to yourself to endure short term pain if doing so will bring you closer to long term happiness!
Building self-esteem is really quite simple. The reason I have been focused on and encouraging progress down your chosen path is that it is reinforced when you actually DO SOMETHING and prove to yourself in the process, that you CAN! The more you actually DO (tackle, survive, etc.), the more confidence you will have that you can handle whatever you may face in the future, and this is at the core of what self-esteem is all about. Any self-help book or program that suggests you “visualize” (or even more offensive), “recite affirmations at your reflection in the mirror” as a means to build your confidence/self-esteem, is simply full of shit!
Let’s look at this from yet another perspective, just to drive my point home…
“Can you recall a time in your life that you didn’t survive a decision you made that turned out to be the “wrong” one?”
The trick in this question is that if you are still here, you have NEVER come to a place in your life in which were not able to survive a bad decision. That said…let me concede that it is ABSOLUTELY possible for a solitary choice to ruin or even end your life and I would never downplay the importance of making good ones! (In fact, my next post will be focused on ways to help ensure that you do just that). My intention here, is instead to refocus you on the fact that nothing has “taken you out” to date, so if you are still here, you need to start acknowledging your resilience and give yourself some credit for the choices you already have under your belt. Recognizing this fact will help you to cultivate the COURAGE you will need to start walking and stop taking yourself so seriously that FEAR sets in and renders you immobile even after you are reasonably confident in your current choice of direction. Incidentally, two of my least favorite words are FEAR and SUGAR because they both SHUT US DOWN! … But that’s another blog as well.
I know what I am suggesting is easier said than done, because I have faced my own fair share of “forks in the road.” I have also “done my time“ in the hallway. So, I speak from experience when I tell you that the more you practice, the better you will get at not only making better decisions, but acting on them. Gandhi had it right when he said, “Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” It’s all about keeping things in perspective…reminding us that our individual journey and accomplishments will likely go completely unseen by most of the world, but from our own perspective, what we do is the WHOLE POINT! If our actions help or positively affect others, that’s the icing, NOT THE CAKE!
The path you choose is not actually the biggest issue. When it comes to building confidence…
Walking it, IS!
Deliberate movement forward, IS!
Believing you are capable of making choices that are in alignment with who you are and what you want for yourself, IS!
Having the confidence that you can and will handle whatever happens as a result, IS!
So, the next time you find yourself standing at the base of a “Fork,” do whatever you need to do to make the best decision you can, (given what you can see from your vantage point at that time). Meditate, check in with your gut, do your due diligence, check all options against your core values, and consult others whose opinion you trust…but once your clear path becomes apparent to you, have the courage to START WALKING, because the longer you hesitate, the less confidence you will have to move forward in any direction. Inaction can become a habit and keep you stuck in the “Hallway” for far too long!
“IT’S HELL IN THE HALLWAY,” and your goal should be to spend as little time there as you possibly can!
Until next time,