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Freedom

William Ellsworth

 
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Having just celebrated the Fourth of July, Independence and Freedom are still fresh on my mind.

Let’s consider Freedom…the ability and opportunity to live as one chooses—to make choices for oneself.  These choices may surround our laws or our country. But we also have choices about our individual lives-- what we study, our chosen education, and career choices…And the freedom to choose those people we wish to make significant partners. These are choices we make repeatedly throughout our lives. 

But the question is…

How do you go about making your decisions? Truthfully, how we go about making these choices can be critical. Oftentimes when deciding, we look for the easiest route…the job that we can easily land—whether it is really our passion or not. We settle for the life partner that is convenient or familiar—even though deep down we know the chemistry and spark may be tepid at best.  Choosing based on convenience can strip you of the power to make life altering, soulful, decisions.

I’m not ignoring the fact that for many, this is super TOUGH. I understand--I’ve met many people who literally avoid decisions altogether. For some, making decisions is painful and disturbingly difficult. They are worried so much about making the wrong choice that they remain paralyzed, doing and deciding nothing.

I actually find it easy to make decisions…but it wasn’t always this way. I used to fret over each decision; whether it was in regards to architectural design, color or material selection, or those decisions surrounding my own life.  I would agonize over every decision and once I finally made a decision I would second guess myself relentlessly.  Does this sound like you? Do you suffer from the same panic or fear of decision?  It can be both frustrating and impeding as it keeps us stuck at a crossroads without any hope of moving forward in any direction.

Today, I make decisions all day long for myself, my family, my office, my clients, and so on.  And I find it easy and painless to do so.  Let me share with you what changed it all for me.

I used to evaluate every decision with my analytical brain. I would think or even write down the pros and cons. This can be a very helpful exercise, but not one that left me certain with any of my decisions.  I learned that true wisdom does not lie in my intellectual mind. Rather, it lies in my intuition…or as some would say—in my gut. This is intuitive thinking or what I like to call, soulful thinking. And soul-driven decisions always feel steady, strong, and solidly certain. 

Now the question is—how do you get to that intuition? How do you access it and how do you know when you have? While there are various ways to “feel” the voice of your intuition, I will share with you the simplest way I know of. For me, my gut…my stomach is the tell tale sign. If I am uncertain about something, my stomach will feel unsettled, a little anxious, and even a bit queasy. But as soon as I make a decision that causes a stillness and steadiness in my stomach—I know I’ve heard my intuition and I am making a soul-driven decision. The reason for this is our intuition is all-knowing, wise, and grounded. While we may flutter around swayed by other people, distracted by so many things—our intuition remains steady and stays the course.

For many, “feeling” the difference between the analytical thinking and intuitive thinking seems impossible or at the very least—difficult.  It is certainly a process made stronger by practice. The best way is to check in with how you feel as you make a decision. Start this with even the smallest decisions. And soon you will find yourself making the big decisions in much the same way.  Become truly tuned in to the signs that your physical self is sending you.  Begin to know and familiarize yourself with how your body responds to uncertain situations compared to those that just feel right.  When it feels right, what does your body feel like? Is your breathing slowed? Do you feel a sense of expansion rather than contraction? Become an expert at reading your body’s signals, because they are the voice of intuition seeking to be heard.

Now for you or others—it may not be the stomach which alerts you—and that is more than ok. For some, it might be checking in with how you are breathing. Is it a calm deep breathing once you have made a decision? Or is it a bit unsettled, shallow breathing which reveals an uncertainty and trepidation? Our bodies each respond a bit differently, but in every case our bodies are speaking to us in hopes that we will listen.

So don’t be afraid of the freedoms that you are incredibly lucky to have. Embrace them…appreciate the ability to choose despite the worry of choosing poorly…and boldly make decisions that bring you happiness, meaning, and inspiration. And once you make the decision—stand by it with courage and conviction.

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Until next time... with inspiration,
Karen Otis