In our ongoing, alternating awareness of our responses to the external world and the internal world, we can notice there are moments of resistance. We think we should do something but we cannot get ourselves to do it. There are moments of avoidance. We know a task is out there and we forget, or do something else, or distract ourselves. We avoid noticing the task. There are moments of withdrawal. We don’t want to go out, see people, address problems, or take action. Our internal conversation with ourselves begins to focus on these ways of not doing, not feeling, and not thinking.
There are methods of overcoming these obstacles, but first we have to decide if they are important to overcome. Or are they signaling something needing attention? First we have to notice and listen. Sometimes we get distracted with an internal kind of criticism for having these reactions. But part of the art of managing our minds is knowing when to accept a “gut instinct” and when to override. It would be so much easier if there were simple ways of making this choice. But it falls into the category of “no right answer.” If we turn right we will have one outcome and if we turn left we will have a different outcome. Parts of those outcomes might be predictable and parts of them may be unpredictable.
Looking back we can see our lives have unfolded in complex ways, and our choices have been a large, although not sole, part of that unfolding. Sometimes we could see in advance what might happen, but other times, surprising directions developed. Most serious decisions we make have both a predictable aspect and an unpredictable one. This makes them undecidable by any systematic means. Perhaps our hesitations are a response to this complexity and a signal to stop and consider the possibilities.
Some people say, “I can always trust my gut instinct,” and some people never trust their own feelings or responses. It is a lot easier for reality to be one way or another. It takes more effort to recognize that with the complexity of our minds and our lives, our reflective understanding is important, and so are our feelings. Our goals are important and so is the enjoyment of the current moment. Our relationships are important and so is our relationship with ourselves. It is sometimes difficult to inhabit the gray area in the middle, making decisions anew with each turn in the road. But really, that awareness, that flexibility, that capacity allows us full access to ourselves and our worlds.