On Sunday, I had the privilege of attending a stake conference where Neal L. Anderson, one of the apostles, was a speaker. These are the four lines of his talk that impacted me the most (this may not be a direct quote; it’s what I wrote in my notes during church).
How do we navigate through the many difficulties of life? We CHOOSE to have faith. If you don’t CHOOSE, you will be confused constantly. We find the way after the choice is made.
He was referring directly to faith in Jesus Christ and in His gospel, but I think we can extend the concept to many other areas in our lives as well.
I had the opportunity to put this idea into practice the very next day.
On Monday one of my mentors said to me – in regards to my treatment of myself – “You need to let go of the expectations, ‘shoulds,’ and doing.”
It’s not like I haven’t heard that before. I’ve been ruminating on and discussing with people for the past year and a half what it means to let go of expectations.
Immediately my mind went to, “I don’t know how,” and then I remembered the words of Neal L. Anderson,
“We have to CHOOSE.
We find the way after we make the choice.”
I decided right at that moment, “I CHOOSE to let go of expectations, ‘shoulds,’ and doing.”
Now I am trusting that I will find the way.
Nothing miraculous happened. No amazing ideas flowed into my mind. No automatic release of all expectations of myself. No epiphany of how to be less frantic in my “doing.”
The thing that changed was my mindset and my energy.
Rather than being stuck in “I don’t know how” energy, I am now in “I am open to finding the way” energy.
What if I never find the way? Was my mindset shift in vain?
I’ve often thought so. You may be like me and have had the thought, “What’s the point of believing in something if the ‘something’ doesn’t happen?”
On the other hand, would it be better to be stuck in “I ‘don’t know” energy? What is the upside to that?
Take a moment and think the thought, “I don’t know how.” What are the sensations? Is it heavy? Light? Dark? Colorful? Tight? Relaxed? How would you describe the feeling in your body? The thought, “I ‘don’t know how” makes my stomach clench, my shoulders tighten, and my mind start to spin and shut down.
Now take a moment to think the thought, “I choose to let go of expectations.” How does that feel different? How does it make your body feel? Where do you notice sensations? How would you describe it to another person? The thought, “I choose to let go of expectations, ‘shoulds,’ and doing,” makes my heart open, my shoulders relax, and my mind calm down.
Even If I never actually learn how to 100% let go of my expectations, “shoulds,” and overdoing things, will I be worse off for having the thought, “I CHOOSE to let go?”
Based on the results in my body, the answer is no.
Even if either thought gives me the result of no change in my behavior, just thinking the “I CHOOSE” thought changed the physical experience in my body to a more pleasant one.
In addition, the new thought opens up the opportunity of finding a way to change. There is now the possibility that I might change my behavior, but with the, “I ‘don’t know how” thought, I never will.
In life and the gospel, we so often want to see the way, to know how things are going to work out, to understand how to do something before we are willing to make a choice. That formula is backward.
Nephi, in the Book of Mormon, said, “I will go and do” – he made a choice – before he figured out how he was going to get the plates of Laban (and the how turned out to be very different from what he would have imagined the way to be). Like Nephi,
We have to CHOOSE.
We find the way after we CHOOSE.