Just as I rely on my GPS when I'm driving to help me get where I'm going, we all need help navigating our paths. And just as every journey begins with a step, my journey began when I asked God for a sign -- and I received one: an acorn fell at just the right moment. And then, when I asked for confirmation, another one fell.
But what if I hadn't recognized my sign?
One thing that helped was that when the acorn fell in answer to my question, I was alone. This was in the years before everyone had a cell phone to consume their attention. I wasn't distracted by anyone else's presence, opinion, or tweet, and so I was able to relax and listen to my own inner voice. Solitude gives us the quiet space we need to find ourselves, away from outside influences.
Once you create that space for yourself, the next step is to ask for the help you need. Ask for guidance. Ask for solutions.
And then listen for a reply. Really listen. Let yourself be wide open to your experience and know that the voice is going to be your voice -- not your dead ancestors or angels or spirits. It's your own authentic voice.
In order to hear, you have to be able to receive, to accept that you're deserving, you're worth it. This is where most of us get in our own way. When you ask a question and hear the answer, trust it instead of talking yourself out of it.
It isn't easy to ask for help. There are many reasons for this. We may feel that asking for help means we are weak. We think we should be smart enough and strong enough and decisive enough to solve our own problems or not have problems at all. But sometimes intelligence and strength and willpower aren't what we need. We all have our blind spots, and we can benefit from a different perspective. We can't do it alone.
Once you've made the decision to ask for help, how do you go about finding it? There's no right answer, but I'll share some of the things I've tried; maybe they will work for you, too.
- First, ask trusted friends and family members. These are people you love and they want to help you. They're more likely to tell it the way it is.
- The Internet can also be a wonderful tool, especially if you're looking for help with a very specific problem. Do your research. Google and I spend a lot of quality time together.
- Be open-minded. Don't assume that there is only one path for getting where you want to go. The guidance you need may come from a therapist, a cab driver, a song on the radio, a mentor, a child, a book, or a website post. You just need to find the voice that is right for you.
- I can pretty much guarantee you that if it's the right answer for you, it will come from more than one place -- but every little voice counts.
- Don't anticipate what it's going to be and how it's going to show up, because sometimes our answers come in ways we'd never expect.
- But what if you aren't sure? What if you can't decide whether the advice you're getting is good...or bad?
In a situation like this, I suggest giving yourself a little time to think things over before you make any decision. Step back and look at the problem as objectively as possible. For me, this where meditation, going to the gym, and walking around Manhattan come in.
And then trust yourself. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you may find that you've been wearing the ruby slippers all along.