A lot of people, likely including you, are having to make hard decisions right now.
Should we cancel the trip?
Should I keep my kid home?
What to do if the school district closes?
It it wise to visit my elderly parent?
Decisions like these are hard partly because we are choosing between two crappy options.
My husband and I were supposed to go to Southern California this weekend where I would attend a business retreat that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks.
As things started to unfold with COVID-19, I began to wonder if the trip was the best idea. I’m NOT missing it, I thought to myself.
First we decided to drive. That seemed better than flying…and bonus points for a road trip! That meant snacks and a playlist. All good.
Then things continued to unfold. And got more confusing at best, alarming at worst. You know the story.
What I noticed was my rigidity around staying with The Plan was keeping me from being discerning. I didn’t want to feel the disappointment of cancelling, I worried I was over-reacting and my ego was involved.
As I sat with the decision to go or not go, one of my most trusted advisors came to the table: Ahimsa.
Ahimsa (ah-him-sa) is a Sanskrit word that means non-harming, non-injury, non-violence; or in other terms, kindness, compassion and love. It is the foundational principle of Yoga philosophy.
Most of us do not act in ways we think of as violent (though there are many subtle layers to this that might surprise you). Even making decisions that are non-harmful is fairly clear most of the time.
But what happens when both/all choices are crappy? Much of the time these types of decisions are hard because all options have their own negative consequence and perhaps even cause harm.
Then, Ahimsa advises, choose the option that causes the least harm.
My decision to not go to LA was not difficult in the scope of things. I’ve made heartbreaking decisions under the “least harm” guidance of the Ahimsa principle. Getting divorced a decade ago comes to mind. Both options — staying in a mutually unhappy marriage or tearing apart our family — had terrible consequences that affected not only the two of us. There was no one “right” decision. Yet in the deepest, quietest part of me, there was a choice that ultimately caused the least harm.
And sometimes that’s the best we can do.
Thankfully, after emailing the retreat leader that I would not be attending (and surely I was not the only one), they decided to take the whole thing online. We’ll meet on live video. How amazing that the technology of our times allows us this flexibility! We are fancy.
Sending love to you as you navigate these coming weeks and months,
making hard choices,
interfacing with disappointment
and having love and compassion for yourself in the process
(Ahimsa toward oneself, always, as much as you’re able).
And may we all be flexible and discerning, informed and pro-active.
Take care, Michelle,
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