Seeking God

Difficult decisions and self-preservation

There will be times when you have to choose between yourself and the other – and that other could be a child, a spouse, a friend, a parent, anyone – and you will face the dilemma: whose life is more important, theirs or mine?

You will curse your luck and fight with your god for putting you in this fix. You will cry bitter tears and long to be removed from the consequences of your decision whatever it may be. You will wish someone else could make the decision for you, and then you will regret it when that happens.

And at different times in your life, you will choose a different ending. When you are 20 and your parents choose a stranger to be your husband, you give in even if you don’t really like him because, after all, they are your parents and you haven’t known any other centre of authority in your life so far. You choose them over yourself.

When that man threatens your life and that of your children, you choose your children and yourself over your husband and your parents, and walk out.

When you find a partner you love but your parents and children do not agree with your desires and decision to marry him, you choose him and yourself over them.

When you get a dream job but it’s a very long distance from home and your daughter and husband are at a point when they need you around, you choose your family over yourself because you don’t want to live in conflict with the personal and professional part of your life.

And so on, and so on. You make different choices at different points of your life based on what you think is the best decision at that moment. There are no right decisions. There are no right answers. We all do what we must at any given time.

Even so, I have come to the realization that all decisions are subconsciously motivated by self-preservation. We all have the innate skill of prioritization, and even when we are not aware of it, we are constantly prioritizing one thing over another based on our subconscious telling us what is best for our self-preservation at that point in time.

Sometimes, a woman may stay on in an abusive relationship because of self-preservation, and the same woman may leave – even if she has to live in penury as a single mother – for the same reason. Sometimes, choosing a parent over a husband may be self-preservation, or a spouse over a child. Sometimes, it may be the other way around. Situations may vary, but your gut always knows which way the wind blows and where your future safety and happiness are ensured.

At first, I assumed it was more animal instinct than our intuitive higher self, but now I wonder if it is both. Maybe our instincts are given to us for a reason, maybe self-preservation is not as selfish as it’s made out to be, maybe by choosing ourselves over others we are not being ‘bad’ but ‘good’, laying the path for betterment for everyone in the future.

I don’t know how this connects with larger human decisions – such as war or looting of the environment – in the name of self-preservation or ‘civilization’. But maybe that is greed versus genuine need. Even a carnivore does not attack a second prey once its belly is full. I suspect that the more we are in touch with her inner selves, our personal gods and our humanity, the better tuned we will be to the planet’s own ‘instinct’ and, simultaneously, our own higher intuitive selves.

After years of regretting some of my difficult decisions, I am now finally learning to forgive myself for acting in self-preservation. I may have chosen my own happiness over the other’s, but my happiness is important, and it was the best decision I could have made at that point in my life. Main hi aatma, main hi paratma (The soul am I, the Supreme am I). These were the necessary hills and valleys in my journey.

Seeking God

Decisions, decisions

Some decisions suck the blood sugar out of you (this is research by the way) and some come so easily that you suspect something’s wrong.

I’ve mostly always taken emotion-based decisions, which isn’t really a good idea, I know. I often regret it later, I often cry, I often go through difficult moments of doubt and self-blame — mostly because all the big decisions of my life have affected everyone around me as much as me.

But the decision I took three days ago — to choose between a full-time job in the same industry I was coming from, or a work-from-home position with lesser pay but greater flexibility to try out new things in my life — has been both crystal-clear and difficult. I’ve been vacillating between “It was the right decision” and “Was it?” for the past 72 hours.

I chose to stay home. I chose to spend time on my kids and my dashing new husband and our lovely new home and my own spiritual growth. I chose to take a risk with my life, knowing full well that my income will go down but my happiness quotient will go up. I chose freedom over security, God over people.

It sounds like an obvious choice for someone like me, but it’s been hard too. Hard not because of my own thoughts but because I had moments of worry about what others would think of me. Hard because I haven’t sat at home for years, there’s always been an agenda even on holidays. Hard because I am not yet the superwoman like all those work-from-home moms who juggle housework, kids’ work and office work efficiently, day after day. I’m still learning how to draw my boundaries at home.

I tend to drift. I tend to get involved in chats with the neighbours, buying vegetables from the roadside vendors, doing the laundry, fixing the cupboards. Then I remind myself of my dear friend R’s advice (she was one of my most efficient freelancers): “Housework will in itself not give you any lasting value; your work will. So be disciplined.” And I get back to my computer.

The past few days have shown me strange new sides of myself. I saw myself being crabby at the end of the day when the husband came home. I saw myself hesitating to leave the house at all, it was too much of an effort. I saw myself compulsively reading blogs and watching videos online. I saw myself struggle with writing a new story. In short, I saw in myself remnants of a younger me. The fearful, insecure being I used to be. When, after 11 years of working, I found myself a homemaker again, the old psychological habits popped back up too.

Luckily, though, this time I’m different. I can sense God in all that I am going through; it is as if Life is testing me: Have those lessons been learnt? I can see myself from the outside, and check my behaviour before it leads me to trouble. I can reverse my self-conversations, and choose positive over negative self-speak. I can apologise to my loved ones, and request their patience while I go through all this re-adaptation of identity.

It was yet another big decision that I took with a bit of an emotional quotient, but I am able to control the damage this time around. And every day, as I get better and better at managing this, I am more and more excited about the possibilities. I can’t wait to see what I am going to do next.