Any time there is more than one option, and sometimes even when there is undoubtedly only one option, I become paralyzed by the burden of picking the right one. It’s as though my life literally depends on making the right choice and I can’t move a muscle until I do. If I’m wrong I’ll spend eternity paying for my mistake. Every day there will be a reminder. As I’m broke, starving and begging on the sidewalk outside of a NYC McDonalds, I’ll be able to trace it back to the day I irrationally ordered that merino wool shirt online for 83% off even though I may not have necessarily needed it but it was a really good sale. When I’ve broken my hip and I’m stranded helpless on the dirty floor of my studio apartment kitchen filled with single place settings and ramen, I’ll remember the time I turned down that guy at the bar who said he’d marry me and take care of me.
Sure, it’s a little drastic and doomsday-esque, but it’s all totally possible. It all boils down to the same thing. If I make the wrong choice, I will die. Death: the Great Motivator. At the absolute minimum, a mistake will result in severe discomfort and a mental loop of regrets, shame and judgment, but that will eventually lead to madness and death anyway.
How can such simple decisions be so dramatic? Seriously. Am I to assume that I have made all of the right decisions up until this point, but this is going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? I’m currently alive and therefore my track record of not completely fucking everything up is still in my favor. Isn’t that enough? My entire life has proven that I can make just about any decision in any arena and I, in fact, will not die. Yet, I find myself thrown into a loop of beliefs that the blunders are all just piling up and I’ll eventually be kicking myself for not acting with more scrutiny, for not looking at the mountain of errors early enough to start cleaning things up.
The panic usually results in: 1) avoiding all forms of action and falling asleep only to wake up and find the decision still unmade, the thing still undone; or 2) trying to “feel something” with a hit of coffee (often drank quickly and in secret) that I don’t even want to drink anyway. One thing to avoid the other to avoid the other and all of it to avoid death.
If you came to me and told me all of this I’d tell you to just make a decision, any decision. Do anything at all and I’d bet my life on it that things will turn out okay. I trust Grace for everyone else, but struggle to furnish my own unerring faith. Truth is that to date, each shuffle, step, and leap I’ve taken has landed me in a wonderful place. It’s the sidesteps and indignant toddler-like sitting down that have resulted in suffering.
Gina, make any decision. It really, truly does not matter that much. You’ll be fine, maybe even better than fine.
So tell me, when you have anxiety, panic, fear, or depression that stops you in your tracks, what is your tip to recall that "This too shall pass?"