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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Dawn Johnson

Fear of the "wrong" path

Section 2.... The Map!

Now that we can look at our life's decisions as a maze rather than two paths diverging in the woods, we can allow every twist and turn, detour and dead end to mean something beautiful. Moving forward from here, the paths we choose to walk are no longer riddled with fear and, in fact, quite a bit more exciting. However, even if we have that moral compass in hand, even when we see our lives like an exciting maze full of paths to be explored, and even if we can accept the lessons that big and small detours in our lives present to us, we often fear we are going to get stuck miles away from where we desire to be, if we haven't already. This can also stifle our progress and cause unnecessary anxiety. Have you ever felt this particular fear? I have! So what else is possible?

Let's continue to shift our thoughts to be more powerful and enriching. We all too often forget there are multiple possibilities and ways of looking at our paths and decisions. Here is another perspective shift that is so freeing

First let me ask you, with which map are you viewing your life and your decisions? A grid perhaps? A grid is wonderful for several reasons in building a town and a community. It is clear cut and concise, as well as, fairly easy to navigate. However, if you are trying to arrive at your Great Aunt Mildred's for her birthday party and take one wrong turn, it can lead you a couple miles away from your destination. I myself am terrible at directions and this would most definitely be me; sitting at a random subway chatting with Earl about all my failures at navigating my life. Sound familiar?

When we think of our lives like a square grid, we tend to say, "yes this detour was good but it has de-railed me so far away from my goal that there is no hope of finding my way." You stay stuck at that random subway on the South of town, Earl doesn't probably know how to help you, and there are too many twists and turns back to your destination to ever have hope of getting to Aunt Mildred's party. This is a limiting belief our brain readily accepts as fact and slows us in our progress. We feel that our decisions have caused all of our goals, dreams and ambitions to be clear across the country on a grid map. And unless we navigate onto the "right" roads, we'll end up even farther from our goals. It is a never ending nightmare to think that one detour, one mistake, one good choice that came to a dead end can lead us miles away from our destination. So again, what else is possible? If this line of thinking is not serving you, change it!!! Change your story! Change your perspective!...

Is this the only way to make a map? Is it the only way to view our paths?

The answer my friends is a loud and resounding NO! Let's shift to a new line of thinking and to an entirely new map!!! Did you even know you had this choice? I didn't. And once I found out I had the choice to choose a different map, I have been able to move forward steadily into various paths with clarity, calmness and even excitement. I have seen that my goals and dreams and desires were a lot closer than I realized. And I was then empowered to say goodbye to Earl, get myself into motion and arrive at Aunt Milred's just in time to watch her teeth pop out as she tried to blow out the candles of her cake.

So what other maps are there?

Have you ever heard of the phrase, "All roads lead to Rome?" Well both Rome and France have a system of roads that lead directly to the center of the city. How neat is this! What would happen to how we make decisions if we were able to apply this type of map to our mental computer programming?

It can change everything! And this is why...

If you give your brain a new thought, at first it will reject it. It has been operating from the grid for so long, of course it is going to spit out and try again and again to find proof that this circle map is "wrong". However, with time and continuing to remind yourself that you are the master of your own thoughts, you can train your brain to view every path you take, every small detour and even mistakes you make from the blueprint of a circle map. And with this map, each and every road can lead directly back to your main goal."

How is this possible? Here is an example: Imagine three people that have a dream to become a wonderfully talented landscaper. The first one chooses to go to school and get a degree in botany. The second one decides to follow his gardener around, observes, asks questions, and starts his journey this way. The third decides to read books, practice in his window box and immediately start his own landscaping business. Did they each take a different path? Yes. Did they each get to their destination? Yes. Each road was full of its own obstacles and unique hardships, but in the end they got there. One road may have been clear of traffic while another road may have been riddled with car accidents, rush hour traffic and protesters picketing in the middles of the street. But all roads led to the same goal.

Another example: This time Imagine two people. The center goal for this example is mere happiness, peace, and contentment. However, one person makes decisions that do not follow that moral compass we addressed earlier. His path is riddled with mistakes, hardship, pain and struggles. In this case we can in fact say he is miles away on the outskirts of the circle. In this case we see a person who chose to walk away from his true destination and desires. Whether or not fully realized or admitted outloud, he feels discouraged and hopeless, standing too far away from where he wants to be. Not only that but operating from the grid mindset of complexity, thinking in order to get back on track there are just too many turns and twists. It seems hopeless.

Now the second person chose a path, keeps moving one step at a time along that path towards that center focus, and is able to arrive at the center goal of peace and contentment.

What can change for the first person if he saw his life's mistakes as having simply led him to the outside of this circle map instead of that grid map? It can change EVERYTHING!!! Suddenly they no longer have a million hours of navigating in order to get back on track. Suddenly there is only one thing to be done.... TURN AROUND and START WALKING the other direction!!

Did both people in this example make it to their goals? Yes! It just took one a little longer than the other to get there. However, the duration of our journey is so personal and is not what is important in the end. What is important is that they made the journey and they arrived. No judgement and no fear!

Lastly, if we not only shift our perspective from grid map to circle map, but also shift and be flexible with our goals and dreams, our life becomes even more beautiful. We can begin to recognize our unique gifts, talents and how we already use them in the world for good. We can begin to see our true worth and identity. So try this... whenever you have a big daunting decision to make, pause for a few minutes, or even a day. Ask yourself, "am I allowing this decision to become attached to my identity?" "Are my decisions defining who I am as a person?" And "If I say no to this path and go with this other path, will I feel my self worth drop an octave?" If so, remember these three things....

1. You are the same wonderful, valued person no matter which road you venture on.

2. All roads lead back to peace, happiness and contentment! Why? Because happiness is not based on ANYTHING external. Happiness doesn't depend on that promotion, even on marriage or how many children you are able to have, or how big your house is, or what diagnosis your doctors gave you, or whether you get your Masters Degree or work at McDonalds. HAPPINESS IS YOUR CHOICE! And ANY ROAD (between multiple good roads) can lead you back to happiness, if you let it!

3. Put all your decisions, goals and dreams aside for a moment. What is your main goal for your entire life? It doesn't have to be complicated! What is your personal mission statement for YOU? For instance, if my main goal in life is simply... "Learn and Grow, Give and Serve!" Then it matters very little which routes I take, what school I attended, what programs I join, what trials I experience, what lack of dreams I realized didn't get accomplished. I am already striving to fulfill that main goal. I can breathe and be centered in that contentment for a moment. I can become grounded in my purpose and re-aligned on my path. If you are learning, growing and able to help others do the same, in my mind, this can put at rest any fears you have of not achieving your dreams or having the life YOU envisioned for yourself. You are already on one of those roads back to the center. I promise!!

I truly, personally believe if we have that moral compass in hand, if we make mistakes here or there, if we take this path and get lost for a couple days, or our path doesn't look like Jill's path, as long as we focus on our center goal of following God, and our personal mission statement, we cannot go wrong. There might be paths in this map that are more optimal, have less traffic or that serve us better, but in the end my friends, we will make it home again. We will achieve all the goals we desire and then some! And sometimes those harder paths we find ourselves on are a blessing in disguise. We can reach that center goal having grown leaps and bounds from a road full of trials. Whereas the often more "optimal" roads very often may not be as good a teacher.

So pause, breathe, smile, get excited that no matter what job promotion you take or turn down, no matter who you marry or if you don't marry, no matter the obstacles and set backs, and no matter what your life currently looks like... YOU ARE NEVER TOO FAR FROM YOUR DESIRED DESTINATION! AND YOU WILL GET THERE!!! Each life and path looks different. And that is OK! You took main street and I took Tenth Avenue. That's it!

Now go make decisions with your own circle map in hand and continue to be the amazing YOU that you already are! The world needs you and the decisions you make to learn and grow, give and share! And that is enough!

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