By Hannah Maine

Making big decisions, like where to go to college or what career to pursue, can be incredibly difficult for anyone. It’s especially hard if you’ve been fortunate enough not to have to face serious decisions in your childhood. A majority of us had parents making the big decisions on where we’d go to school or where we’d live, and our biggest worry was what sport we’d play. For most, turning 18 doesn’t make you an adult because you can vote or gamble, it’s because you have big, adult decisions to make.

Without practice, it can be hard to sort through all the opinions and voices in your own head about what you should do. If you’re nervous about a big decisions, you probably go back and forth, agonize over the pros and cons, and ask everyone and the mailman for their opinion. You’ll soon realize, no matter how many opinions you collect, you won’t be closer to making a decision.

Until you know what you really want, you’ll try to take on others’ opinions as your own, but your inner voices will always pull you back. In order to find peace in your decisions, you have to look inward and tap in to your intuition.

The first step you have to take is to block out the outside voices. Your parents, siblings, and friends probably have strong opinions on what you should do. They may have good reason, but you are the only one who has to live this decision every day. And you won’t be at peace until you find your inner voice and listen to what it has to say.

Your Inner Voice

Listening to your inner voice is a lot easier said than done. There’s a difference between your thoughts and your intuition. Your thoughts can race with worries, pressures, and “shoulds”. Your thoughts have an expectation of what you want and when it should happen. They’re impatient and filled with judgment. Your intuition is patient and subtle. It’s a calm, trusting feeling. We often block our intuition by pressuring it to be logical or to fit into societal ideas of what we should be doing.

In order to sift through your thoughts and your intuition, you have to get quiet.

Call it meditation, prayer, or whatever you’d like. But you need to get rid of all the distractions and be still with your thoughts. It’s no wonder our inner voice has a hard time coming out, we all spend so much time distracting ourselves, binging Netflix or scrolling social media. Our true feelings can be uncomfortable.

Embrace this discomfort. Get quiet and just sit with your thoughts and feelings. Write them out if they feel overwhelming. But don’t hide from them. You may itch to reach for your phone or put on a podcast, anything to fill the silence. It takes some practice, but try to get comfortable with sitting in silence with yourself. With all of the distractions of daily life, you may be running from a feeling your intuition is telling you but you don’t want it to be true.

Start by just observing your inner dialogue and becoming aware of where your thoughts are coming from. Recognize when you’re telling yourself what you “should” do because you think it’s what your supposed to. The more you observe your thoughts like this, the easier it will be for you to see when your thoughts are coming from a place of fear or judgment.

It’s Not Logical

Often our logical mind doesn’t like the emotional or spiritual truth we know inside. But what is logical is not always right. What we believe to be logical is often influenced by arbitrary standards others have told us to follow. Societal standards are often motivated by things like financial security and the approval of others.

For example, it may make logical sense to go to a school close to home where you got a scholarship because you can live at home and save money. However, your soul might be called to a school that’s farther away or more expensive because it’s where you’ll grow and experience more. Society (or your parents) may be telling you to pursue a stable career path, because you’ll never search for a job or want for money, but you may be called to something a little less predictable, like owning your own business or being an artist.

Take your time. Your inner voice is not rushed. It does not demand to be heard through frantic thoughts. It will come out in feelings and signs when you give it the space to do so. Let go of the timeframe you’ve put on yourself. It will come in due time.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. And the reasons you make your decisions are for you to agree with. You are the one who has to live your life. It may feel catastrophic if your parents or friends don’t approve of what you’re doing, but that will pass. If you are happy with your decision, the rest will fall into place.