What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

Sometimes, in spite of our incredible brilliance, wisdom and intelligence, we are faced with a situation that doesn’t present us with a clear choice. Sometimes, though rarely in my experience, we find ourselves without any “good” choices. No matter what we do, we’re going to disappoint, hurt or upset someone. In my recollections, most of those times have closely followed a really bad choice that I’ve made.

In other situations, we have a few different choices that are all okay, or maybe even they’re all good. Maybe we have job offers from four different companies that all seem to be wonderful opportunities. Personally, I’ve never been in that situation but I think it is theoretically possible.

Regardless of the precise circumstances, there is a technique that my wife Randa taught me that ranks among the best things I’ve ever heard of. Right up there with homemade biscuits and old-fashioned sorghum molasses. Good stuff.

So, here it is…

You take your choices, the ones you can’t decide between, and you write each one down on a separate but identical piece of paper. I suppose you could use tree bark or tanned alligator hide, but paper is usually more convenient. After you’ve written each one on a separate but identical piece of paper or whatever, fold each one into identical shapes. Preferably with the writing on the inside so you’re not tempted to cheat. If you’re the kind of person who’s tempted to cheat in something like this, this whole idea probably isn’t going to work for you anyway.

After they’re all folded into identical pieces, set them in a bowl, on a plate, in a hat or something else of similar service and availability.

Now comes a key step. You can use this whether you’re a person of great and abiding faith or a person who suspects but isn’t sure that the universe occasionally conspires to help you. You pray, meditate, or cognitively focus by whatever terms you might use, on the decision facing you. For me, I pray, “Lord, please show me what I should do in this situation.”

After this period of mental and spiritual focus, once you’re convinced the Lord or the Force or the Universe is ready to help you, pick up one of the pieces. You can do it with your eyes closed if you want to be sure you don’t tilt the table, so to speak. This next part is absolutely critical; it is the crux of the crisis, so to speak.

Be especially alert to your very first reaction. The immediate, spontaneous reaction, not the aftermath of carefully contemplating the revelation. Okay, ready? Unfold the paper and read the choice written there.

Are you elated, disappointed or unaffected? Or are you just relieved?

If you’re elated, you now know what you truly desire to do. This is the choice you will pursue with delight and enthusiasm, the one you’ll fully engage with. If you’re disappointed, you know from the totality of your inner self that you really don’t want to pursue that one. Not the result of hours of analysis and deliberate contemplation, but the spontaneous revelation of the intuitive self, the part of you that incorporates the conscious and the subconscious, the adult and the child, the id and the ego.

If you’re unaffected, you might want to leave that one out on the table and repeat the process. You now realize that even if that is a possibility, it’s not really one you want to dedicate yourself and your best efforts to. If you’re just relieved, maybe it’s because you’ve been spared the disappointment of one of the other choices. Maybe you feel like this is the right choice and you’re relieved that you are no longer in a state of quandary. You’ll be okay with this one.

I don’t use this technique often because most of the time, my choices seem pretty clear. Maybe that’s owing to a strong sense of right-and-wrong, maybe it’s owing to a lot of practice, or maybe it’s owing to a deep belief that no matter where I go, my God will be with me and continue to lead me. Maybe it’s a combination of all those and a few other things. I don’t use this process very often, but every time I have used it, it has worked with amazing effectiveness.

Thanks, Randa!

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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