What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do  

Jul 03, 2020

Whenever I have heard someone say “I don’t know what to do,” it usually means much more than that. The words imply that the dilemma is just one of information, as if knowing the “what to do” would make it all different. But the truth is that these words are rarely said in a situation where one little tip will make it all better. Instead, they are usually said at a moment when someone has literally reached the end of themselves and feel as if there are no more options. In sum, they are at the end of hope. 

Whether the circumstance has to do with a relationship that is not getting better, a person who is won’t change no matter how hard you try to help them, a business problem that seems unsolvable, or even changing a pattern of behavior that has overcome you, the feeling is the same: “I have tried all I know to do, and done all that I know to do. And, nothing is helping.” At that point, we wonder “what do we do?” 

While the specifics are always different, in my experience there are a few principles which in fact do help situations get better, and I have come to trust them. It is difficult to summarize them in such a short article, but I will offer them here as a quick list, and hopefully they will be as helpful to you as I have seen them be for countless others as well as myself: 

1. Choose Your Traveling Companions Wisely: Often, we are trying to “go it alone,” in some significant way and we have to come out of our independence and reach out to others who can give us the help that we need. Many times that means strength, support, encouragement or healing. Other times it means more tangible help and skill that they bring to the table. But remember, if you are at the end of yourself, you need help from the right others. 

2. Place A High Value On Wisdom: Above I said that there is usually not some “magic tip” that is going to make it all better. But, no matter what you are dealing with, there is wisdom that will apply and often we do not know what that is because we have never been in the situation before. But, someone has. The trick is to find the people that have the experience in what you are dealing with who can show you the path out or through it. 

3. Be Willing To Look At How You Have To Change: Many times, especially when bad things happen to us, we don’t think that we have to change. We feel like the circumstances or someone else has to change to make it better, so we fail to “give thought to our ways.” But the truth is that even with bad circumstances that we did not cause, or difficult people, we do have to make some shifts in how we are dealing with it in order to see movement. Much less the other types of problems that we are causing ourselves. So, be willing to look at your part and make the changes that you need to make. 

4. Embrace Problems As Gifts: I am not saying that everything that happens is somehow good. But, there is usually something that we can learn from what we are going through and some growth steps that we can make in the midst of our difficulty. This kind of stance often causes us to engage the process better and embrace what it has to teach us. When we do that, we go through it more successfully and come out a better person in some way. 

While these principles are no guarantee that difficulties will not come in our lives, they have been proven to be trustworthy in dealing with those hard times and circumstances that life throws our way. Try them yourself, and my hope is that you will find them dependable as well.

Let me talk to you about some tools that may help alleviate the anxiety related to a personal crisis.