I’m feeling very confused. Different people are giving me advice and I don’t know who to trust. I lost my job a few months ago and I have to make some decisions. My parents think I should go back to school. My boyfriend (who I live with) thinks I should look for a job in the same field. I feel pressure from both of them and I don’t know what to do. If I go back to school full-time, I’d have to live at home (near Philly). I really did hate my last job. I’d rather be a nurse. But I’d miss my boyfriend and he doesn’t want me to go. I trust the advice you give. What do you think I should do?
Dr. Norquist responds:
It sounds like this is a decision that can set many changes in motion for you. No wonder it feels so big. Your parents and your boyfriend each have their own lenses, but this is your life, not theirs. How can they know what is right for someone else? Everybody has advice they can offer from their own life experience, but only you can decide what is right for you at this juncture in your life. Of course, there will be consequences with whatever decision you make. The decision you make needs to be what is best for your life journey, not what pleases others or what others think is best for you.
Your next question might be – how do I know what is best for me? It starts by moving your attention away from the external world, and focusing your attention inside yourself. Imagine the different possibilities and see how you feel inside when considering each option. See yourself finding a similar job and continuing to live with your boyfriend for an indefinite period. What happens inside when you sit with this visualization? Does it feel right? What feelings or bodily sensations emerge? What is your felt sense about this possibility?
Try this same exercise with the other possibilities, such as moving home and going to full-time school, working part-time and going to school part-time, etc. Listen inside for what feels the most ‘right’, or even the most wrong or ‘off’. The more you practice this listening skill, the easier it becomes.
Sometimes the answer is not an unequivocal yes or no, and further exploration over time is required. The important thing is for you to recognize that it is up to you to take control of your own life.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanyacounseling.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2017 Chaitanya Counseling Services