All of us reach a point in our lives, where our decisions inevitably create profound changes in our hearts, our minds and our world. Fears can be the charging force pushing on the direction of our thoughts, dictating our movements. Sometimes these are hidden fears that we are not ready to confront.
But eventually, we all come to a crossroads where we need to make certain life-changing decisions, regardless of our fears. At this point, the direction of our movement must encompass confronting our hidden personal fears and feelings that play such a powerful role in our decision making.
Fear of the unknown can shake our resolve in moving forward as we begin to face our heart pounding moments that inform our personal actions.
Our decisions are unconsciously influenced by our experiences during childhood, adolescence and adult life. We grow up in survival mode, learning to protect ourselves from the verbal, physical and emotional onslaught of our parents, siblings, teachers, school yard bullies and others.
These learned survival traits compound and confuse our thinking of who we are and the direction of our lives. They affect our daily actions, at times giving us distressing results in our confrontations, causing us to begin asking more contemplative questions at new crossroads: How do I decide what to do? What is my problem? Where do I look for helpful information? Why is it so important to know about my past? Who can help me with my decisions? When should I begin the search? Such thoughts radiate through our decision making both internally and outwardly.
Whether we are sitting in our car at a crossroad to an unknown destination or at a crossroad in our mind confronting a fear resulting from an experience, can we determine who we are and what we are all about? What does all of this mean for us?
It means courage. As we walk through life, we, individually, carry our failures, losses, hurts, and other issues experienced while growing up with family or alone. We ask ourselves, “Are we any good? Are we worthwhile? Are we broken?”
These are scary and real questions that may present themselves at our crossroad. How do we explore thoughts and confront fears resulting from our actions, or the actions of others, that have affected our lives?
Here are 4 simplified steps that can help:
- One needs to explore the ways we protect ourselves unconsciously, from the anxiety of recognizing singular or multiple traumatic events that have shaped our decision making. We do this in order to defend against a fear or troubling emotion, which becomes the catalyst for our actions.
- In my therapeutic experience, when looking at those unconscious fears that interfere with our decision- making, it’s advisable to attempt to understand only one issue at a time. Otherwise, we may experience frustration, aggravation and other emotions, resulting in nothing being done at all.
- Once the issue is brought out into the “light of day,” exploration of our feelings can be utilized using “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how,” to try to understand how our unconscious manipulates our thoughts and emotions. Recognizing our basic emotions and understanding them is just as important as being able to accept the defenses we utilize in protecting our fears. We often experience interacting emotions producing thoughts that may result in anxiety, anger, apathy, despair, doubt and indecision. I have personally experienced issues causing the complexity of emotions to interact and force the outcome of emotional interplay to action. We direct ourselves to play out emotional entanglements by interjecting ourselves into circumstances we have unconsciously designed. Those emotions and fears we have to deal with unconsciously affect the decisions we make as we travel forward into the crossroads of our lives.
- Once we understand our feelings and survival techniques, goals can now be visualized, empowering us to resolve those fears that have impeded our life’s changing decisions, allowing us to move forward. The many crossroads encountered during our life can now help us to strengthen our belief about ourselves.
The most recent crossroad and decision-making that I have confronted was heart surgery. It was determined on the operating table that the surgery could not be performed because my heart was covered by plaque, closing my aortic valve by over two-thirds. If surgery continued, a stroke would most likely occur since the procedure for this type of surgery was so recently developed
Afterward, I was informed that there are surgeons currently training to perform this next level of surgery. So I wrestled with two decisions: Wait for the training to finish and risk having the surgery, or do nothing and let it go.
This life decision was not easy, as it affected not just myself, but my family. In the end, I elected to let go of the surgery. In coming to terms with this difficult life- changing decision, I have become more comfortable with managing this arduous crossroad.
The life-changing decisions and crossroads we experience are different for all of us. Trying to use complicated methods to explore our issues can result in the opposite of the desired goal. A simplified way to begin the process of understanding who and what we are all about, may have a greater positive influence on the changes in our life and the decisions we make that are right for us.