“What should I do?”
That’s a question we all frequently confront, but occasionally the stakes can seem higher than at other times. Regardless, the answers are usually already within us. If we go looking for outside validation that our decisions are good ones, we might end up more confused than ever.
I recently found myself falling into “The Validation Trap” regarding a $1,466 trip I’d booked six months in advance, not knowing what my life would be life once August rolled around.
I’d spent the money for airfare and tuition for a retreat in the Catskills Mountains. But just a few weeks before, I injured my foot, making it difficult to walk even short distances, much less navigate through two international airports, and then get myself to the Port Authority in New York City for a bus ride to a 1,000-acre mountain property I wasn’t going to be able to enjoy.
On top of that, I’d recently started a new communications job in higher education, and the trip would require me to miss the first two days that classes were back in session. Talk about bad timing.
My intuition was strongly telling me to just let it go and write off the no-refund trip. But I kept asking various people what they thought I should do, seeking validation that my tentative decision not to go was a good one. After all, it seemed like a lot of money to abandon, and I would miss a continuing-education opportunity.
A couple of people told me, “You have to go!,” indicating that if they were in my position, they would find a way to drag themselves there on a bum foot.
Finally, I cemented my decision after completing a journaling exercise asking for my Higher Power to guide me. Here’s some of what I wrote: “Other people’s judgments about letting go of that money shouldn’t affect yours. Just let it go. The Universe will make it up to somewhere down the line.”
And so I stayed in Atlanta. And it was a good thing, too! Naturally, as I expected, issues come up on the writing job requiring immediate attention. The fact that I was there, able to handle the issues well, and solidify the good impression I’d made with my new employer was priceless.
I thought to myself, “Oh my God, what if I had listened to other people and gone on that trip against my better judgment?”
And even though the retreat was advertised as providing “No refunds,” I was ultimately able to the majority of money back through presentation of a doctor’s note and a carefully worded appeal.
So things worked out for the best by trusting my inner wisdom instead of relying on anyone but my Higher Power to guide me.
Of course, at times it can be helpful to bounce ideas off of others. But catch yourself before you stuck in “The Validation Trap,” expending a lot of energy trying to convince others that your ideas or plans are good ones.
You may find it helpful to do what I do when I’m confused: I just type or write at the top of a page, “Dear God, Angels, Spirit Guides of Love, Light & Wisdom, how should I handle (fill in the blank).” And then I start writing the answer to myself with any thoughts that pop into my head.
I’m still amazed at how well this works.