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You're The Only One Who Knows

You’re the only one who knows when you’re opening and when you’re closing. You’re the only one who knows when you’re using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you’re opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is-working with it rather than struggling against it. You’re the only one who knows.

Pema Chodron From Comfortable With Uncertainty

You’re the only one who knows. This is often the best advice and likely not what you want to hear when you are in an advice-seeking mode. It’s a lonely truth that no-one can tell you what to do or how to do it. My best friends and sangha mates allow me space in which to explore this. But I find, especially having moved from my home of 35 years, that I really crave that person who can just tell me what is right, especially when I am taking risks. The irony is that it would not be a risk if you knew it was right. In addition, the dichotomy of right and wrong creates more suffering because it comes packaged with the idea that our good decisions lead to happiness and our bad ones lead to suffering.

You’re the only one who knows who to love, whose teachings to follow, who to trust, when to quit your job, when to do drugs and when not to. And there are more serious decisions that still no one can make for you.

The best I can do is look at my intention going in and what I hope for as both long-term and short-term outcomes. This is where practice comes in:

What long-term intentions have I set for myself? Long-term intentions are the ones like not harming others, being precise, or simply to enjoy my life.

To examine my short-term intentions, I ask questions like, what kind of head space am I in right now as I have this experience? Am I operating in desperation? Am I able to access my long-term intentions? Am I doing this to escape something difficult? Do I feel brave?

Some good open-ended advice I once received was to ask myself How can I love myself more in this moment? And I find that I am the only one who knows.

These questions are useful for working with yourself or helping friends and loved ones. Listening and making space is often the most transformative thing you can do for others or they for you.

Pema Chodron describes taking refuge as “a basic expression of our aspiration to leap out of the nest, whether we feel ready for it or not, to go through our puberty rites and be an adult with no hand to hold.”

We can frame our decisions and how we experience our suffering with this idea: Let go and jump. Then keep jumping. Be ready to meet both suffering and joy with each breath.

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