Choose the Right.
You know the song.
If you went to primary, you heard it over and over and over again.
Lyrics combined with powerful music, repeating this clear message:
There’s the right and the wrong to ev’ry question.
If you went to primary, you learned decisions in life are right OR wrong.
You were also taught these ideas:
- Choosing the right is good and approved by God.
- Not choosing the right is bad and leads to God’s spirit withdrawing.
- And because God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, any sin you forget to repent of may impact your eternal salvation, including your ability to be forever with your family.
Those stakes are as high as they come.
And even in the Mormon paradigm, choosing the right isn’t as easy as it sounds.
God doesn’t give commandments for everything. (D&C 58)
Even in his basic commandments, he changes his mind–like when he told Nephi to cut off Laban’s head.
So it’s your job to figure out what God wants you to do in any particular circumstance. Somehow, you need to figure out God’s will.
But beware, Satan is always trying to tempt and deceive you. So you’ve got to figure out Satan, too.
At least there is the Holy Ghost to guide you, right?
Unfortunately, this approach brings you to the unanswerable question: “Was that thought a prompting from the Spirit or was it just my own brain?”
If you still can’t decide what to do, you can simply follow the prophet.
He speaks for God.
Well, except, of course, when he’s speaking as a man.
I dare you to find a better recipe for anxiety!
How do you escape choose-the-right thinking?
I have found that many post-Mormons have a continual desire to do the right thing in situations where there isn’t a clear-cut right choice. This “choose-the-right” thinking often leads to withdrawal, indecision, and inaction — none of which are conducive to personal growth.
When you find yourself paralyzed by a choice, you might want to try this:
- Notice your feelings. If you are feeling uncomfortable, allow the discomfort. If you grew up Mormon, you were repeatedly taught you should “always have the spirit” with you.You probably learned to view uncomfortable feelings as a sign something is wrong and learned to resist them. As humans, we are designed to feel a wide range of emotions. All emotions are vibrations in our body that come from our thoughts (or interpretations). Emotions themselves are never a problem; they exist to teach us, aid in our survival and provide energy for action.
- Notice your thoughts. Write them down. Think of each thought as an object to be looked at. If you are thinking similar thoughts over and over, you are witnessing your brain acting efficiently. So if you are repeatedly thinking something like, “I just want to do the right thing” you have discovered a powerful thought loop. Just be aware of it. Thoughts we think over and over feel so real; however, they are just thoughts.
- Notice that you can notice both feelings and thoughts. If there is a part of you that can observe what you are feeling and thinking, it’s clear you are more than what goes on in your body or your mind. When you feel anxiety, you can switch into observation mode by getting curious. Ask yourself “what’s going on in my body right now?” and “what thoughts are moving around in my head?”
As you begin to allow your feelings (rather than repress them) and begin to see your thoughts as thoughts (rather than absolute reality), you are building the foundation to a relationship with yourself as a whole human being.
Then, whatever you choose, you can do so from a place of love rather than fear.
And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing!