Looking for signs, something that many of us do to help gain some perspective or perhaps guidance, on a particular decision that we are faced with. If you are one who looks for validation in the form of signs, I can indeed relate.

Signs can present themselves in a multitude of ways and in virtually any circumstance. They can be real or imagined, depending on your point of view. They can be from God or another higher power that one believes in.  Wherever and however you seek the validation of signs, there is no denying their importance for so many.

In this quest though, what happens when you don’t find what you are looking for…or you think that you aren’t finding it?

It can be incredibly frustrating when you seek out any type of visible confirmation but come up empty. You start to question yourself, you start to invalidate yourself, perhaps even shame yourself for thinking that what you are trying to do is pointless. Also, we can open ourselves up to the naysayers, the negative people who will try to talk us out of something just because they don’t think it’s important.

I’ve personally struggled with this quite a bit in the months and weeks leading up to the decision to leave my day job and jump into coaching and advocacy full-time. Heck, even the idea of starting to get my coaching certifications was a bit troubling…”Should I, Shouldn’t I, What signs are there either way? If we’re being real here, I struggled with it when I started doing the podcast, putting up blog posts about certain topics, collaborating with others online, and probably other areas that I can’t recall at the moment.

I admit I spent a fair amount of time looking for signs, yes, and it can be quite frustrating. I look and look, hoping to see something that will give me some direction, and if I don’t see it, I imagine what it would look like to get a sign.  So now I’m not only looking for signs that are genuine but I’m also imagining the feeling to try to prepare myself and to make sure that I don’t miss it.

Talk about un-nerving and adding stress to my life..Ugh! Like any of us needs more stress, especially when we’re trying to do something good for ourselves and cover all of the bases.  I decided that I had to figure this out and come up with some healthy ways to deal with this conundrum; because if I didn’t I would risk the validity of something I feel is important and good for me.

I mean after all, I’ve made some choices in life that weren’t exactly the most healthy, positive things I could have done. I’m human after all and finding my way just like everyone else. Of course being a survivor I’m prone to second guessing myself at every turn, essentially, finding any opportunity to talk myself out of doing something just because it might not work out the way I hope and plan.

In the end it’s about being open to different possibilities, and being okay with not getting the concrete answer that I hoped, or getting it in a different way.

  • What if the absence of a negative sign is a positive sign?
  • What if the encouragement you get from others in your life, even if it’s not directly related to your sign searching, is indeed a positive sign?
  • What if the searching for some picture perfect, exact confirmation is just a trick of anxiety to keep us stuck, miserable, and afraid to take a chance on ourselves?
  • What if it’s all related to being a survivor, and the mind screw of the abusers in our life has caused us to doubt our abilities so much that we’ll look for any excuse to not do something so we don’t get hurt or end up hearing the “I told ya so” from friends or family?
  • What if it’s okay to just do it, and see what happens and then learn from it no matter the outcome, without having to label it a success or failure?

From this survivors perspective, looking for signs is still an important part of my life but I’ve learned, and continue to learn, that while this can be good, taking it to an extreme can be detrimental to my journey of recovery.  It’s just like anything else in life, taking a situation to an extreme can lead to self-shame, more anxiety, lack of confidence, and depression.

Maybe it’s okay to just try it and see what happens, and not stake our well-being and happiness on any single decision.  Do your best to prepare, cover all the bases, decide if it’s something you really want and then be open to what signs are there, or not there.  Oh yeah, and one other thing, be okay with your decision and know that however YOU proceed, you are doing so because you are worth this healthy decision, whatever it may be. Move forward with it, and on don’t look back.

-Matt Pappas






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