I wrote about this before but thought I would revisit it to see what comes up.
FOLLOWING MY GUIDANCE
In my late teens and early twenties, I discovered I had a strong and clear inner guidance. When I followed it, things fell into place in amazing ways. The following path wasn’t always easy or carefree, but it felt deeply right and life brought me to places – including physical places and communities – that felt deeply right.
I explored following it in daily life, including in the smallest of ways to see what would happen, and also so I got to see what in me feared following it.
In what situations was it more difficult for me to follow it? Not surprisingly, it was typically when other people were involved and my social anxiety, desire for approval, fear of disapproval and anger, and so on came up.
In my mid-twenties, I studied psychology at the University of Utah on a student visa. (I am from Norway.) During a semester off, I went to Nepal and India and met someone literally from around the corner from me in Salt Lake City. (We had mutual friends so it wasn’t as much of a coincidence as it sounds like.) We got into a relationship, and when my student visa later ran out, we had a choice of splitting up or getting married. We chose to get married.
That felt OK, although the decision was confused by several emotional issues surfacing in me: Fear of being alone. (Although I loved that too.) Fear of losing the community at the Zen center I lived at in Salt Lake City. Fear of losing the cool things in the US culture I couldn’t find easily in Norway. (Including psychology classes on ecopsychology, environmental psychology, health psychology, and systems theories.) Fear of losing my beloved Rocky Mountains and desert. (I felt a profound belonging to that land.) And so on.
LEAVING MY GUIDANCE ON A MAJOR LIFE DECISION
But what felt very strongly not OK with my inner guidance was moving to Wisconsin. My wife got into the graduate program there, and I didn’t want to be the one preventing her from following her dreams. Here too, issues came up: I didn’t want to be selfish, I didn’t want to be the reason for her resentment if she didn’t follow her opportunities.
Although I loved a lot about being in Madison – the community, working with sustainability – it also felt deeply wrong to be there. My inner guidance was there always telling me that this was wrong. And that obviously also impacted our relationship. That too started feeling not right and not as aligned as I had wished.
Even after moving to Oregon, which felt far more right for me, the sense of something fundamental being off was there. My inner guidance told me that the relationship was not right. And I still stayed, likely because of a combination of convenience (it was good on the surface and comfortable in a conventional sense) and my issues (unprocessed fears). My guidance was still there, always, telling me that this was not right.
LEAVING THE SITUATION
After some years of this, I did move away and got divorced. And although my outer life now feels much more aligned, my inner sense of alignment is still not quite there.
I still feel an inner sense of being lost and I am not sure if that’s from childhood issues or going against my guidance for so long, or – more likely – a combination.
“I WENT AGAINST GOD’S WILL”
Throughout all this, the discrepancy between my inner guidance and my active choices was deeply uncomfortable and painful for me.
And I added to that discomfort by telling myself I had gone against God’s will. God had plans for me. God told me what to do through my inner guidance. And I went against it. I ruined my life. This was quite traumatic for me.
It took time for me to process this and clarify this more deeply. Through The Work of Byron Katie, I found more clearly that I hadn’t gone against God’s will. It’s not possible. What happens is the divine. It’s God’s will. Even going against my guidance was God’s will.
IT’S ALL TRUE
It’s not something I wish to repeat. It did create a lot of problems in my life. I did get off the track that felt deeply right for me. In some ways, it did ruin my life. I did go against my clear inner guidance. And yet, I did not go against God’s will.
All of this has validity.
The conventional view is true. And it’s true that I didn’t go against God’s will.
FINDING COMPASSION FOR MYSELF
I also find gifts in this.
I got to experience what happens when I go against my inner guidance on a major life decision. (It’s the same that happens when I go against it on smaller decisions, it’s just that it has a bigger impact on my life.)
I got humbled and humanized.
I got to see that it’s possible to recover from this. It’s possible to again follow my inner guidance and get my life back on what feels more deeply as a right track. (I am still in that process.)
I find compassion for myself. Yes, I made a mistake in a conventional sense. Yes, I did it from unprocessed issues. (Passed on possibly for generations.) Yes, it had consequences. And that is very understandable. I was caught up in issues. I didn’t have the outer and inner resources to make a better decision. How is it to meet that with kindness? How is it to meet what comes up in me around this with kindness?
More than that, it’s very human. I got to experience something very human.
And would I have done it differently if I could have? Yes.