I don’t know what to do. How often do you say these words to yourself and others? Let me guess – a lot. Well, at least I used to fall into this not knowing mode very often in the past. I would feel stuck, tormented by doubts, and run around asking everyone for their opinions on what I should do with my life. Needless to say, you do receive opinions when you’re looking for them, but for some reason it doesn’t make it easier. Some time ago I realized that asking What should I do? is the worst question you could ask others and the best question you can ask yourself. Let’s plunge and find out how to start knowing.
Imagine life as a theater. We are all actors playing roles assigned to us. You’re playing yours on kind of an autopilot until you hit a point where you get confused about your further actions and words. It feels like you’ve just woken up from a dream. You freeze. Your head goes blank. What should I do next? – you wonder. And then you start looking around to see what other actors are doing. One is a king. Another one is a beggar. Yet a third one is playing a wicked witch. Hmm they all look so certain in their roles, maybe I should go and ask them for advice on my future moves.
And so you do. You go to each of the actors separately for consultations. They, sure feel proud and happy that you approached them. It makes them feel superior to you, so they are more than willing to teach you how to play their roles. You learn a bit of one role – feels good at first, but then it doesn’t seem to work. You jump to another. And the third. What’s going on? Why none of these roles seem to fit my performance? The answer is simple: because these are not YOUR roles and you know it somewhere very deep inside. When you try to borrow or steal someone else’s place in the play, you create chaos. The play does not need more of the same roles – it needs you to play yours, so that the whole performance goes beautifully as planned by the director.
I remember when I, just like that lost actor, would often forget what role I was supposed to play. I can even say that most part of my younger days was a constant search for my proper role. And I did try loads of other costumes suggested by other actors. It was fun, but I had a nagging feeling that I was living someone else’s life – my mom’s, my boyfriends’, my successful friends’, but not mine. At one point I came to a realization, that people, who want to consult you, are either as lost as you are, or at the very best they know their role well, but have no clue about yours. And if they can share anything of value it’s only their experience on how they found and settled in their role. This can help you trace back yours. All the other information is just opinions, it’s just more confusion which you certainly don’t need.
After hitting on this realization, I started looking for people who seemed to be very well established in their roles and checked if they had anything to say about my concern. It’s funny, because I saw it in an instant that none of them said: Do like I did and you’ll be successful. They do not splash around with opinions and one-fits-all advice. Instead almost in a unison they urge to look within or to look up and find your unique path. That’s a piece of advice that’s safe to follow, because you’re not trying to become someone else, you’re are borrowing their techniques to uncover yourself.
Ok, so what does it mean to look within or up? If we come back to theater’s analogy, where could this actor find out what he/she is supposed to do? There are two ways. Either one should get very still, relaxed, and try to remember the role the director assigned them. Or they can go to the director and ask for a reminder, a hint. In real life, those two options are kind of intertwined. Let’s say that director is God or universe or intelligent energy (whatever names you call it) which gave you this life and supposedly your purpose. How do you reconnect to it?
Some people pray, some meditate, ask for signs, monitor closely their emotions in an attempt to figure out if they’re on the right path. All of this process is very internal and at the same time it’s communication with something higher. So, by looking within you are looking up at the same time. It’s all one after all. What we call the inner voice is nothing else than this universal intelligence which guides us to where we need to go. The director lives in us, so to say. And that’s the only source which can actually give you a feeling of knowing where to go, what to do, and how you fit in the totality of the play.
Some time ago I read an article by Liz Gilbert called Start knowing, in which she argues that we, especially women with our super sensitive intuition, KNOW what we have to do. We pretend we don’t when the little voice within whispers us things we don’t WANT to do. I couldn’t agree more with this statement. I love catching myself making this five-year-old girl’s face who looks to her mom for answers when I actually DO KNOW myself the next best thing.
So why pretend? Well because, this next best thing is not always the easiest option that we had hoped for. It might mean staying in a relationship and rumbling thru the dark when all you want is to pack your bags and leave. Or it can mean turning down a very glamorous job offer which would make your ego purr with delight, but would bury all your dreams. Having a very open conversation with a friend and becoming totally vulnerable with your truth. Bringing your creative expressions into the light of day for others to see and judge. It’s scary, isn’t it? So why not win some time by playing the I don’t know game? That’s what we do, don’t we? And yet it doesn’t work. It never will. Let’s start knowing and get our act together, friends. We all have got roles waiting to be rediscovered by us for the show to go on.
Knowing where the knowing hides,