The Agony of I Can’t Decide

indecisionA young woman in her 30s sat on my couch, her face tense as if to keep from crying.

“I care about my boyfriend so much, he’s the sweetest, but I could never live with him because his work life is so unsteady, he has lots of debt, and I want to find someone I can live with.”

She wanted to do The Work on her situation again with her boyfriend so she could get more clear about her relationship and where it was going.

But she really knew the answer.

She had already done The Work on money, debt, jobs and what her boyfriend should or shouldn’t have, and relaxed about his business.

But she never felt the urge to invite him to move in with her.

It didn’t go that way. It was a “no”.

The next time I saw her, she reported that she broke up with him and was going to start dating other men.

Many, many….and I mean many….inquirers have come to work with me, whether solo sessions or in retreats, on a topic that’s old, difficult, common and very stressful.

Should I stay or should I go?

Trouble making a decision to leave something, somewhere, someone.

When do I quit? How do I quit?

I can relate so much to this when it comes to business and work, jobs and career.

When I was starting out in business, I had a part time job. I thought I would have that job for two years (I even said one year when I first began) and I ended up staying for five.

It turned into a really great, simple, very part time job with less and less time required from me.

I did The Work on that job many times. The job wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t my life’s joy either, that’s for sure. It was stable, offered great health insurance for me and my kids, the environment was quite beautiful, it was fairly easy to get to, the people were nice.

I stayed because I felt it was required for relaxation, ease, and allowing myself to be supported financially by the service I provided for the place I worked.

It was almost when I stopped thinking about leaving, and truly accepted being there and staying put awhile, that I saw it wouldn’t be long before I really would leave. It didn’t matter how great it was or how comfortable I became with it.

I was leaving.

Could it be the same with primary relationships?

Maybe. But often….they seem even like an even bigger deal.

People feel the agony of wondering if they should stay or go in their marriage or committed relationship or someone they’re dating.

What are the thoughts that are so painful?

Let’s explore.

What I hear, and what’s run through my mind too, are thoughts like these:

  • I have to make a decision
  • There’s a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do (I need to know what’s right)
  • I could make a mistake
  • I will hurt my partner (hurt the employer, hurt the neighbors, hurt my family)
  • I will regret leaving later (so I shouldn’t leave now)
  • I will regret not leaving later (so I should leave now)
  • I’m missing something better
  • It could be worse (so I should accept/appreciate this partner)
Here’s the thing with all these thoughts.
All these very stressful thoughts may have some assumptions present that are in themselves very stressful. They may seem kind of weird, but just consider them.
They might be driving your worry.
  • There is an “I” that needs to make a decision
  • I am the one in control of my life with or without this partner
  • I’m calling the shots if I leave, or if I stay
  • This is up to me
  • I’m all alone (and it’s terrible)
Starting with any of these thoughts and questioning them, from both lists, can bring greater freedom.
But I suggest deeply considering the four questions for this second list.
Because here’s what happens for me as I do this.
First, are these thoughts true? Am I in charge here? Is it really up to me?
There’s another human being, who I’ve loved dearly enough to spend lots of time with, who is a dynamic living entity who has their own ideas and thoughts. There’s a room with furniture. There’s daily life happening and buzzing outside. There’s my work and so many other activities.
It’s a huge hodge-podge soup of life and I’m a part of it.
How do I react when I believe I’m in control, and I have to make the right decision, and that my happiness hangs on this decision?
Agony. Anxiety. Flip-flopping back and forth internally. Suppressing my deepest ideas, feelings, and words.
Worrying about outcomes.
Some people report that when they believe they are in charge, they consult everyone else about whether or not they should stay or go.
Pictures float through about what it will look like if they decide yes or decide no.
But who would you be without your thoughts that so much is riding on this decision, and you are in charge, and you must do the right thing, and that happiness depends on this decision?
Without these thoughts?
I suddenly feel a grand lightness. Relief.
Without the belief that I am fully responsible, and capable of making a terrible mistake, I feel free to speak what feels most true for me. I communicate with myself, my partner. I’m very honest.
I stay present in this moment, here, now.

I notice. I slow down.

I let things move as they move, without trying to push, rush or force anything.

And if I get afraid of what will happen next, I can do The Work.

“Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.” ~ Byron Katie

Tell the full truth today, with love and honesty. Then allow life to move and see what happens.

Much Love, Grace


3 Replies to “The Agony of I Can’t Decide”

  1. Oh so powerful to find the story (at least the strong one present NOW)! Then, you can question what’s stressful, like “I’m wasting my time”. So great! And I love the feeling of letting it be as it is….bringing you money, bringing you some internal work (LOL). OK to know you’re leaving, too. Awesome. You get to find out what NOT to do! Much love, Grace

  2. Phew Thank God for Grace Notes! They make such a difference to me. I love your job stories so much. Ha, just today I found out what REALLY is going on inside of me. I told someone at the school I’m working at “I have a lot of skills. I’m getting a master’s degree. I’m a Spanish teacher wasting her life by being a baby sitter to kids. Subbing is NOT teaching!” Well, this person understood me so that was nice and now I know my story! This is an all encompassing comnclusion about my life! Ahhhh!!!

    I’m now willing to let subbing just be subbing…one day at a time. Subbing can just be ‘a job.’ It’s not who I am, it brings me money and there are rare times I’ve enjoyed only some kids. But I do know that I’m leaving. I do believe in doing jobs I actually enjoy and using my skills. I don’t believe in just working for the money…at least not for the long-term.

  3. Ah Grace,
    This grace note tugs on my heart. Because I’ve never felt in control…or rather my beginnings were totally out of my control and against my will, I’ve want to be in control, at least MORE control.
    So BK analysis says drop that silly idea and let stuff happen. Disappointment….

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