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If you look at your plan from a different perspective, you may start to feel different about it. Rational thinking and emotions that seem to contradict each other about what initially seemed logical. What happens to you when you change your mind? Have the promises you made become the carrot-and-stick that motivate you carry on? Or are you taking a different path that seems illogical to everyone? People bluntly describe that as indecisiveness and irresponsibility.

Thoughts that arise can be reviewed or criticized by yourself and this increases the awareness of the patterns in which the thoughts fly by. Literally when you change your mind, then you have successfully let go one thought to make room for another. This is a healthy process and what you retain with this is an open attitude. We have around 60,000 thoughts a day so you don’t want to create a congestion with that single one that keeps you occupied.

To really change opinion is something else, because an opinion is based on your standards. Shifting your standards is something that normally only happens when you learn more about who you are, or through the new insights about your old thought patterns. But only when you wish to change to a better, happier version of yourself. Good intentions like “I’m going to exercise more because I want to be healthier” only have a chance to become reality if not so much time and energy is wasted on clinging to obsolete and distracting thoughts.

The grey area of preparation

You can be making big plans when overthinking important decisions. Trying to look ahead for months or even years. Everything is to prepare yourself mentally, socially, educational, financially and legally. For example, for a future trip you can already start learning a foreign language. Or you can convince other people of your drive and enthusiasm. But the preparation of your final decision is a long road and along the way events will arise that challenge your confidence. Obstinately biting into one unchangeable goal – I tried that, makes nobody in your immediate environment more happy. A sour apple is a tough bite.

To be honest, I have attracted unnecessary breakdowns in either just my life, or that of others as well, through stubbornness, boasting, jealousy and clumsiness. The emotional pain (shame and regret) was difficult for me to handle so, at the time, I stopped processing it. With this I became timid, shy and closed-minded. Which are are patterns of inner neglection that prevent from emoting fullfillingly. That’s something that slowly would come back to me at a later age, because only then did I dare to start confronting myself. Looking back on all that, I prefer to consider all that as preparation for now.

Perseverance, creativity, forgiveness and a healthy dose of don’t give a shit helped you with every obstacle. The implementation of your long-term goals requires a long breath, focus and resilience. Your intuition, intrinsic motivation and inner balance are of great importance in this, because during the preparation everything can happen that offers you adversity. Dismissal and financial breakdown, a family member falling ill, a broken relationship. But also an interesting offer from another employer that asks you to stay.

Every change of plans is a potential reason to reconsider your goals. However, the biggest threat to your succes is you. To navigate through this we have an inner compass. Of the three innate counselors in that compass, it’s your intuition that’s respectively above logic and instinct. It is an important part of us and that is why I’d like to to take you on a small story-adventure about thoughts, feelings and intuition.

The Old Matron

An intersection in your life’s path is approaching. You can see the split from afar and you will have to make a choice. Either left or right you will arrive at the destination that is meant for you. But the left path takes you down along the coast. The right path goes into the mountains. Both are going to offer you a great view. All that’s needed is a decision. So you read something about the coast. You do some research on the mountains. You discuss your issue with friends, family and casual passers-by. Everyone has something to tell. Gathering information is what you do.

Imagine that collecting information about your choice is increasingly becoming the only thing you do. You start to realize that your puzzledness has been slowing down your pace towards the divide. You’ve gone too far already so going back is not an option. The pros and cons outweigh each other and it is not long before both options become too large to comprise. The decisionmaking drops down to your lower abdomen – that’s where survival instict resides. By making choices with your gut feeling, instead of your brain (or heart) much more likely you will leave your own future to be decided by fate. What happens is that you are going to ask whoever next person with any nice story to tell you what you want to hear.

So you’re riding the train, or you’re walking through a park, and you get into a conversation with this Old Lady. She looks happy. As if by chance, your issue comes up in the friendly chat. She tells you that in her youth she has chosen to turn right on the intersection, it was beautiful. “You wouldn’t regret it if you’d do the same,” she said. She even knows someone who lives halfway along the path, in the mountains. You’ll be welcomed if you drop by there. “He will help you continue your path,” she said. “Give him my regards and give him this bag of groceries for me, will you?” You feel reassured by the story of the old woman.

Thoughts and emotions
We think and we emote, don’t we?
These are connected, because the way we think is the way we feel. Negative thoughts are followed by negative emotions. Somebody treated in a way you don’t like and you’d think: “I’ll never be able to forgive him”. Your next feelings towards him will be of melancholic nature.

When you think in a loving way your thoughts will be followed by empowering emotions, either towards other people, towards ideas or things. Any opinion like “this is the best idea I’ve ever had”, for instance, will definately inspire you. Wouldn’t it?

An important reminder to remain aware of is, at least in my opinion, that thoughts and emotions are nothing more than just thoughts and emotions. You are entitled to either create them, or at least label them as positive or negative.

The bag of groceries

After the chat with the Old Woman, online you read about a hostel behind the first mountain ridge. Well in time you book a room at the inn. They want you to pay in advance – unusual but okay, fine. You also make a promise to that person who lives further up in the mountains, you are going to bring the shopping bag. You continue your path. “I will turn right”. But gradually the shopping bag becomes heavier and some thoughts begin to nag your attention. With every step you take, the encouraging words of the woman fade away. You realize that her enthusiasm about the trail was mainly her nostalgia, not yours. The old woman just wanted to see you reassured.

Also, in the sporadic mail contact with that stranger in the mountains it shows that he’s not someone on whom you can build your future. It is going to be a long, exhausting walk and at the top of the mountain you will need a place where you can rest. He tells you that he is making an extra effort to prepare for your arrival, but his real intentions seem unclear. Yet he cannot provide any clarity about when he will be home. This worries you and you start to wonder.

You remember that it’s not them who’ll have to walk the beaten track, it’s going to be you.

The bag that you carry is the physical reminder of the promise you made. But for a while now you are alone again and the situation seems to have changed after reconsidering. Your feeling has changed and with it your thoughts. “The old woman just used me and now I have to go up the mountain path to do her job for a man I don’t trust.” Well, that’s not an uplifting thought. “I want to turn left at the intersection. I do not want to climb these steep slopes and rather go to the beach.”

They are one, yet they differ
You cannot think badly about someone and at the same time feel loving emotions for them. Interchangeably you cannot have bad feelings about something that you think positively about. In this way thoughts and feelings are one. But unlike thoughts, our feelings are sentimental and soft.

Feelings also alternate each other at a slower pace. Where thoughts can make a sharp turn reactive at the moment, emotions need a big curve. It is during this gaptime in which perceptively an inner conflict might arise. As your feelings and your thoughts then seem to be of contradicting nature – while in fact they’re not.

The mountain trail

Het voelt alsof je terug bij af bent, want alweer weet je niet wat te doen. De werkelijkheid is dat je al die tijd al wandelt richting het kruispunt en vergeet nu te genieten van het uitzicht. “Krijg ik mijn geld wel terug van het hostel?”. “Voor mij gaan ze vast geen uitzondering maken”. En dan: “Ze gaan bij de receptie zeker vragen naar wat ik met die boodschappentas van plan ben, hoe ga ik dat uitleggen?” Zo van, “Ja, ik ben van gedachten veranderd..” Ze zullen wel denken, “Heb je er weer zo één.” De daaropvolgende emoties komen in overeenstemming met het lood dat verder in je schoenen is gezakt en je schouder die steeds meer pijn doet door de zware boodschappentas. Eindelijk ben je aangekomen bij de T-splitsing en de weg zoals je die hebt bewandeld houdt op.

Yet again you don’t know what to do. It feels as if you’re back at the start again. While in reality all this time you have kept walking towards the intersection and forgot to enjoy the view along this part of your journey. “Will I get my money back from the hostel?”. “They probably won’t make any exceptions for me”. And then: “At the reception desk they will definitely ask me what I intend to do with this shopping bag, how am I going to explain that?” Like, “Yes, I changed my mind …” They’ll be thinking: “That’s just another of those kinda people”. So in correspondence with these thoughts, your next emotions will probably be having something to do with great reluctance and an aching shoulder from carrying that Old Hags bag. Now, finally you arrive at the T-junction. The road like you’ve come used to walk ends here.

There, at the intersection is a large wooden pole with two arrows; turn left for the beach, turn right for the mountain top. You look to the right and you see that the road quickly turns into a sandy trail. You cannot see far because it’s densely forested. You look to your left and see a paved road going down in a straight line. From here you can see the distant beach. But you’re not alone. She is sitting at a picnic table that stands near the signpost. She is packing her bag and it seems that she is about to continue walking. She sees you too and calls. “Hey, how happy I am to see you”. She walks over to you and even before you have a chance to sit down yourself, she continues: “I’ve been here for a while and I have to tell you, I found it so hard to make a choice.”

You perk your ears. “I’ve been sitting here for a while and whether I want to go left or right ..”, she says. She’s got your attention now and you nod in agreement. You ask if she comes here often, turns out she doesn’t. While she prepares to head off she asks you to tell about your story. You say, “Well, a while ago I met an ol-“. She briefly interrupts you. “By the way, I want to go up the mountain,” she says, “I believe its a lot less crowded than it is along the coast.” For a moment you’re still and she answers “Shall I carry that heavy bag for you?” This is the moment when you say: “Yes, thank you. Actually, I know someone in the mountains who can help us out. I am so happy that no longer I have to travel alone.”

Your inner forces
The man who lives in the mountains was not home. Instead you found him drinking at the bar of the hostel. That’s how you were able to hand in the bag fairly quickly. With the girl you didn’t travel long. Turns out she walked a much slower pace and in the morning prefers to sleep in, how distracting – I’m just making up some story, okay.

The point is that you can never predict your future. In addition, it’s about the gift of intrinsic motivation which all along prevented you from turning around and heading back, or coming to a full stop. While struggling on, it was your inner balance that has been thoroughly tested by the burden that Old Woman entrusted you with. What brought you to your life path’s crossing in the first place was perseverance. Once you got to actually making the big decision it so happens to be that you are warmly taken care of by the moment. Your worries have been solved in a way you did not expect.

It is also important to note that intuition cannot be provoked or attempted. In this story, it only spoke to you the moment you arrived at the decision – when you decided to walk with her. Being resilient was truly only asked of you when you shed a tear while you said goodbye to her. It was a farewell without losers. Hopefully you meet again.

What if your plan of change is unsupported?

Branching off the main road while the others wish to continue going straight. All of us has experienced this at least once. Being blunt about it, I’d say that you walk your path and if it does not make you happy you better change. Others will not understand a sudden turn. Either if they support you seeking your luck or not, in many cases they won’t be able to follow you. Others might tell you it’s illogical or irresponsible. People who often change their mind may be easily carried away by external stimulants – by other people, for instance.

I therefore think it is important to discuss your plans with others beforehand, to test whether your beliefs can withstand a beating. But if you hint just a little to asking others for their approval, you throw down your future at their mercy. You see, people want to protest, force their opinion or convince you of their perspective. Especially when they themselves prefer you to not do whichever you want to do. So find the balance within yourself, between thoughts and feelings. I do that by separating myself from others, spending time alone. No peer pressure.

In my time spent alone I go through a kind of grieving process in which I distinguish my own beliefs and those that others have imposed upon me. I accept feeling lonely by reassuring myself that I really need some time alone for this. In the meantime I can actually really enjoy myself providing me with my own needs. Sometimes I want to go inwards by listening to music, meditating, drawing or by writing a blog article.

On the other hand I sometimes need an outlet, such as cycling long distances through nature, or by gardening. I use mental power to try and overcome limited physicallities which sometimes comes down to a true inner war. All of them I won because I chose growth over comfort.

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