QUESTION: How can you tell the difference between a situation (in my case, a new position as department head in a problematic political climate) that is alternately uncomfortable, frustrating, challenging, disheartening, occasionally exhilarating, eye-opening, and interesting because it offers challenges needed to learn new ways of dealing with the world and grow as a person and may provide an opportunity to help transform a situation for others - from one that is simply flies in the face of everything you ultimately care about and believe in, tries to turn you into someone you’re not such that you should drop it all and just move on (if one ideally had the financial and personal luxury of being able to do so), especially when others are counting on you?

ANSWER: It is clear from what you write that you have thought (and overthought) your situation and examined it from several angles. Yet, you are still in a place of confusion about which direction to follow. Thinking and overthinking certain situations can only take us so far. Sometimes we have to step away from thinking and feel our way into an answer. Being confused is part of that process. Our minds and egos are comfortable with "yes” and “no", not so much with “I don’t know”. That third way of learning to tolerate the "not knowing" is powerful medicine, a place where our knowingness can make itself present. We have to feel our way in this space; it is outside of the sphere of intellectual understanding. Going back and forth between "yes” and “no" as a way of not tolerating the unknown, muddies the water. 

You are asking a question because something feels uncomfortable. Do you need to push through your comfort zone or are you in an unhealthy situation? Not knowing the answer is a part of your journey; you need to sit with it in order to be shown what serves you best. 

Ultimately, we can learn from all situations. As long as we are not harming self or other, there is no right or wrong. Keep in mind that our intention in a situation is as important as our action. Sit with yourself and check your intention in both being engaged and/or disengaged. This life is your canvas; paint it with what you feel in your bones.

Ask AbdiAbdi Assadi