What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do
“I don’t know” is one of the most common answers I hear as a coach.
In fact, several years ago my own therapist pointed out to me how often I said this phrase in our sessions. I realized that she was right. Saying “I don’t know” had become a habit that not only blocked me from moving forward with decisions, but also prevented me from growing and fulfilling my highest potential. It was easier to just say I didn’t know the answer than to look for it within myself.
I once received an email from a client who wrote:
“Pam, I don’t know how to behave with my kids. I don’t know how to make it clear to them that I’m interested in their lives without coming across as overbearing or intrusive. I don’t know what topics to talk about, when to ask questions, when to allow silence. I don’t know whether to plan activities or just have down time together. I don’t know whether to let them hang alone in their bedrooms or encourage family time.”
The words “I don’t know” seem so innocent here. My client felt as though she was simply stating a fact. But “I don’t know” was just a thought, not a fact.
Of course, there are times when admitting that we don’t know something is important. And we can work to figure those things out. But most of the time, we say “I don’t know” as it relates to ourselves, and it doesn’t serve us well.
Confusion pretends to be necessary and protective. When we're confused, we delay making decisions. Indulging in confusion blocks access to our own wisdom and keeps us stuck in procrastination, inaction, and fear of making the wrong decision.
Did you know that the only thing that makes a decision “wrong” is the thought that it was wrong? What if you chose to believe that there are no wrong decisions? That you're only either succeeding or learning?
I remember trying to make a decision about what to do after college graduation. I had the opportunity to volunteer in Israel for a year or stay in the U.S. and find a job. I hemmed and hawed and asked everyone I knew for advice about what they thought I should do. I felt anxious and insecure and doubtful for weeks.
Then one day, I decided to go for it. I submitted my registration forms and started telling people about my plans. As soon as I did this, I felt so much relief. And I felt committed and determined to make it the right decision.
Do you indulge in confusion? Do you often tell yourself you don’t know what to do? Here are five suggestions to help you get unstuck.
instead of saying “i don't know”:
1. Ask yourself, “If I did know, what would I do?” or “If I did know, what would the answer be?” Asking this helps to unblock and unlock your inner wisdom.
2. Access your future self. Pretend to go into the future a week, a month, a year, or several years. Ask your future, older self what she would do in your current situation. You’ll be surprised at how knowledgeable she can be!
3. Ask yourself, “What would LOVE do?” Instead of trying to make a decision from confusion, worry, or overwhelm, generate (or imagine) the feeling of love. You can never go wrong taking action from the emotion of love.
4. Ask yourself, “If any decision I made were to turn out amazing, what would I choose?” Rather than anticipating failure, you can predict a successful outcome and then work to make it a reality.
5. Don’t limit yourself. Sometimes we think that we need to choose one thing over another when we can actually choose both. For example, my client didn’t have to choose between planning an activity or having downtime with her kids. She could have had both!
How often do you indulge in confusion or say “I don’t know?” Use one of the tips above to help you make a choice right now. Leave a comment below and share your decision!
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