When you’re confused about what to do next, fully surrendering to the possibilities will help you see a clear path ahead.
It all started the day I had lunch with my university friend, Sarah.
Sarah had been travelling since graduation and was full of exotic tales about life in other countries – different languages, foods and cultures. What she was experiencing sounded amazing. She told me she had no plans to settle down and was, in fact, preparing to pack her bags again soon and travel to the UK. Several of our mutual friends were already there, and Sarah extended the invitation to me to travel with her. The idea sounded fantastic and I wanted to jump at the opportunity. I’d always wanted to go overseas and this seemed like the perfect chance to have the adventure of a lifetime.
The trouble was, that I had recently embarked on my career path. I was working for a reputable company on a specific project. This was work I had dreamed of pursuing while obtaining my degree, and it wasn’t an ‘ideal’ time to leave. To compound this, I also had a strong sense of wanting to do the decent thing by my boss and my colleagues, which meant seeing the project through to completion. On the flipside, I was worried that if I didn’t go travelling with Sarah, I would miss my chance entirely. For weeks I was conflicted; paralysed by confusion and completely frustrated with myself because I was totally incapable of making a decision. I was caught in one of those classic scenarios where you have your heart whispering in your left ear, and your brain nagging in your right ear, both with opposing views. While leaving with Sarah sounded very tempting, I could not summon the courage to quit my job. My inner-conflict was all encompassing.
In the end, tired of waiting for me to make up my mind, Sarah left without me. Over the following weeks, at every opportunity I dawdled around bookshops flipping through travel guides. I finished the work project and, as the assignment came to an end, I discovered that I had enjoyed it immensely even though at times I had been very distracted. I also discovered that I had a real talent for the work I was doing. As a result of my dedication and commitment, I was offered another opportunity within the company, with a promotion and a pay rise.
Ultimately, the extra money in my pay packet meant that I could afford to go and visit my friends and this is eventually what happened. I ended up enjoying the best of both opportunities, although at the time I did not know that it was going to work out that way.
What I know now, looking back, is that by actively not making a decision about travelling versus my career, I was practising the art of allowing. I sat with the confusion I felt. Even though it felt like I was really stuck, I was in fact, surrendering to the natural ebb and flow of my life and letting the next thing come to me.
These days I try to practice the art of allowing more consciously, especially at times when I feel deeply conflicted, and my head and heart are giving me different messages.
When you’re in a state of confusion, resistance can easily set in. This causes anger and fear and panic, tension and stress. Then, as a consequence of these emotions, we can also feel tempted to force a decision. But it is at exactly these times – when we are most uneasy – that we need to practice the art of allowing.
Sometimes it takes real effort to do nothing and simply be in the experience. Especially because most of us want ‘control’ and we feel the need to be in charge of every aspect of our lives, especially at junctures when we perceive that our present circumstances are under the threat of change.
But by practising the art of allowing, we accept that change is constant. We also accept that control is an illusion. And when we slow down, relax, and simply observe what is happening in our lives, we can also sense how these things make us feel. We also need to have faith that our instincts (our inner-built compass) will tell us when the time is right to reach out for an opportunity.
When we do this, we’re truly living in the present. And we open up the scope for lasting and transformational change; secure in the knowledge that our journey is as individual as we are and that whatever comes next, is meant to be.