These past few weeks have not been easy for me.
I’ve struggled with a decision.
I’ve made pros and cons lists.
I talked myself in circles. Over and over again.
In my writings and with my clients, I often speak to the importance of stress reduction while healing from chronic disease.
But I am a human being and I slip up just like everyone else.
I forget what I’ve learned and fall back into old patterns that no longer serve me.
This is not my typical blog post, but it is related to IC healing.
During your healing process you will be faced with important life decisions, just as you would be without IC on your plate.
Life around you doesn’t stop, although sometimes you may wish that it would just slow down, even just a little bit.
What to do when faced with a decision…
I won’t get into the nitty gritty details surrounding the particular decision that I was struggling with because it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that I came to an answer that was right for me and in the process of doing so, I learned the importance of asking the right questions.
Your decision can be as small as, “Should I attend my friend’s party this evening?” Or as big as, “Should I take on this new promotion at work?”
Whatever the decision or dilemma you are facing may be, take some time to sit with it. By this I mean get really quiet and pay attention to what is going on inside you.
Listen to the various voices or parts in you that are voicing their opinion.
Often, you will hear the voice or your mother or father, or maybe an authority figure in your life telling you what’s best for you.
Maybe the voice is disguised as your own true voice, but is actually being filtered through years of conditioning and beliefs that you have taken on from your family, your culture and society at large.
If you listen close enough and try to quiet the louder voices by focusing on your breath and your heart, you may be able to hear that quieter voice within you.
You can call it your inner voice, your higher self or your intuition. What does that voice have to say? Where is it trying to guide you?
Our beliefs are deeply ingrained and have been passed onto us
For most of us, our beliefs about right and wrong and how life should be lived are so deeply ingrained in us , that it can be difficult to see and experience life beyond these beliefs.
But where do these beliefs originate from?
When making this most recent life decision, I had to confront a deeply held belief in me that what I do is who I am.
That I must work hard to keep achieving and accumulating more wealth and security.
That doing so makes me a worthwhile person that others can be proud of.
A lot of emotions came up surrounding this belief and I felt the heaviness and sadness of carrying this belief. With this belief running the show, I always feel less than and like I am not doing enough with my life.
I realized how much of a role this belief has played in shaping my view of myself and the world and it is a belief that I no longer want to resonate with.
It takes time and perseverance and a degree of constant vigilance, but these beliefs can be uprooted and replaced with beliefs that actually serve your authentic self and the life you really want to live.
Hence, part of your decision making process will involve encountering and challenging deeply held beliefs that you have carried since we were a child.
As yourself, if I no longer believed this, who would I be? Would I love and accept myself? Would I even recognize myself?
It can be scary to confront these beliefs and the strong feelings that arise when you do, but in order to live an authentic life, it’s a step you need to take.
Asking the right questions
When making a decision, we tend to ask the wrong questions.
In other words, we tend to ask questions that fit in with our deeply held beliefs in order to seek an answer that will keep us aligned with these deeply held beliefs.
For instance, this recent decision involved the potential to bring more immediate cash flow into my life. I was asking myself, will this decision bring me more financial security? What are some of the things I could buy or do with this extra money?
While there is nothing wrong with asking this question, or obtaining financial security, this question was very loud in me and overshadowing other important questions that I was blocking myself from asking.
Why? Because the value of financial security is held very high in this culture and in my family especially. My beliefs were telling me that this is where my focus should be at this point in my life.
However, I was prompted by a mentor of mine to ask a different set of questions:
Does taking this opportunity feed my authentic self?
Does it bring me closer to my desired state of being in the world?
Am I sacrificing my long-term goals and aspirations for the short term benefits?
How do I want to feel on a daily basis?
What do I want to make time for in my life?
What is really important to me and will this opportunity bring me closer to that or further from it?
Do I really want this or am I feeding my egoic identity or trying to live up to other peoples expectations of me?
As you learn to ask the right questions and feel into your inner guidance, decisions will come easier to you. There will be less stressing, less fretting and more assurance and confidence in your everyday life.
You will begin to live more authentically.
Gains and losses
Of course, with any decision we have both gains and losses.
Since I decided not to move forward with this opportunity that presented itself, I lost greater financial freedom and security. I lost out on learning a new set of life skills and I am not living up to societal expectations surrounding accumulating wealth.
And what did I gain from my most recent decision? Greater authenticity and peace within myself.
I am allowing myself to be exactly who I am by doing what feels right for me.
I can focus my time and energy where I want to, which for the most part right now is working with my nutrition and IC Wellness coaching clients and studying functional diagnostic nutrition to further my education and gain new resources to better serve all of you.
I am also giving myself permission to rest when I need to, to meditate more and to cook nutritious food, all of which would have suffered to some degree had I moved forward with the opportunity presented.
How does this relate to IC?
You may be wondering, how does all of this all relate to IC?
What I have found and what I am still learning to put into practice myself, is that when you are trying to heal from chronic illness, even daily decisions like whether or not you should go to the movies with your friends, or whether or not you should have a piece of that pie your aunt brought over for dessert, can seem overwhelming.
When you are healing from IC, you may feel like you are missing out on life and that losing so much of what you previously enjoyed.
It feels like you have to consider your IC at every turn. And the truth is that right now, you do.
It can be easy to push yourself too hard and not give your body what it really needs — rest, attention, recovery and nourishment.
So when you are faced with decisions, big and small, always take a moment to ask yourself, does this bring me closer or further away from my healing goals?
Will this nourish my body and soul?
Will this feed my authentic life?
Take the question posed above as an example: Should I go to the movies with my friends tonight?
Sometimes, you may find the answer is yes, I do want to go out tonight with my friends to re-connect with them. My soul needs this right now and my body is up for it.
Sometimes, the answer to the same question will be no, I need to rest and recover right now. I will stay in.
You will learn in time when to say yes and when to say no.
There will be times when you make a decision that has negative consequences for your health. No one is perfect. But you will learn from it, pick yourself back up and keep going in the right direction.