You should probably stop reading this blog before you even start.
Because I don’t have answers for you. Regardless of how much you want me to tell you exactly what to do, I can’t. There’s a chance that I might inspire you, or give you an idea, or point you in a certain direction, but in the end the only person who can tell you what to do is you.
Over the past few years I’ve realized that I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with consuming self-help material. I want someone to give me answers. So I scour the internet, read inspirational e-newsletters, watch video blogs, and devour self-help books, all with the hope that someone will answer these questions for me:
How am I supposed to live my life?
What should I do with my career?
What is my purpose?
How might I best serve the world?
I end up with a ton of techniques, mantras, green juice recipes, yoga postures, meditation practices, vision boards, and journal entries – but no answers. Then I end up stressed out that I don’t have time to watch all of the video blogs that I want to watch, or try all of the techniques that I’ve read so much about – and still I have no answers.
Why can’t I find answers?
Because life isn’t about arriving at the answer. It’s about pursuing the question.
It’s about making choices in each moment that feel right for you – not because someone on Oprah told you to do so – but because you can’t help but follow the longing within your heart. And if you don’t have any particular longing at the moment, no self-help book is going to give it to you. You just need to wait for further instruction from within. The time will come when you know how to act and what to do. Be patient.
You probably don’t like this advice. Trust me, I understand.
I’ve spent years listening to business coaches, self-help gurus, angel channelers, and therapists tell me that I have to listen to the voice within. For a long time I thought this was a load of crap. I’d get angry about the fact that I was paying people hundreds of dollars per hour to tell me to listen to myself. I felt so lost that I’d given up on the idea that I had any wisdom inside of me. I would plead with them, “What would you do in my situation?” And they would reply with something like, “What do you think I would do?” To which I would want to scream, “Just tell me what to do goddammit!!!”
Over time, however, I’ve realized that there is a voice inside of me that knows what to do. But it doesn’t speak all the time. And it doesn’t always speak when I want it to. Because sometimes I’m supposed to feel lost. This is the nature of being human. My inner voice nudges and speaks in its own time – a special, divine timeline that doesn’t always fit within my plans and structures. I don’t get my answers when I want them. I get them when I’m meant to receive them.
As I’ve been getting closer and closer to the end of my current contract at work, I’ve been getting more and more uncomfortable with not knowing what to do next. I want someone to tell me what to do. I want the answer to be obvious. But it’s not. I became so obsessed with trying to find the answer that it started to consume me. It’s all I thought about, dreamed about, and spoke about. I made flow charts, plans, pro and con lists. Until finally I reached a point where I realized I needed to let go.
I need to surrender my obsession with finding the answer, and trust that my life is about journeying through the question.
The problem is that most of the time I find this approach so uncomfortable that I can hardly bear it. I like structure and plans and easy decisions. I don’t like the unknown.
But for now I’ve decided to put away my self-help books, affirmations, malas, and journal. I’ve unsubscribed from a ton of e-newsletters. Instead of trying a new technique every morning when I meditate, now I simply focus on my breath. My home yoga practice has become an exercise in listening to my body and doing what feels right for me, instead of practicing a certain series of postures because I heard they were good for me or because I want to master something difficult. My husband and I are taking a break from discussing what’s next for us because we’re both tired of thinking about it.
I’m doing my best to create space for the next phase of my life to reveal itself. Is it easy? Hell no. But I know that I’m not going to find my answers in any book or blog (and neither are you).
As Shel Silverstein wrote:
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
Bethany Butzer, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, researcher, and yoga teacher who helps people create a life they love. Check out her book, The Antidepressant Antidote, follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and join her whole-self health revolution.
If you’d like tips on how to create a life you love, plus some personal instruction from Bethany, check out her online course, Creating A Life You Love: Find Your Passion, Live Your Purpose and Create Financial Freedom.
Image courtesy of Ginny.