What's Your Anchor?

In my clinical practice, I spend a lot of time helping people work through decisions where there doesn’t seem to be a clear right answer.  Often, people really just want me to tell them what to do! I get it, decisions are hard and sometimes they can be overwhelming. There isn’t always a clear path. As people of faith, we pray and seek guidance from God, but the reality is that guidance doesn’t always come right away, and it’s not always as clear as we would like it to be. So, we are still left working to discern and figure things out at times.

I am pretty solidly against giving my clients explicit advice unless it’s in a crisis or safety situation for one simple reason: I’m not them! You are the person who is the expert on your experience. You are the person who has to live with the consequences of your choices on a daily basis. So, YOU should make the decisions about your life!

Often we seek the advice of others when we are unsure of ourselves. Maybe we have had experiences that we see as failures, and we are still blaming ourselves. Maybe we have had others tell us outright that we aren’t smart enough, or competent enough, or good enough to have the things we hope for. Maybe, we are really scared of being successful, and being responsible for the vision that we’ve seen for ourselves. Whatever the case, the best decisions we make are ones that are consistent with who we are and what we believe. So, how do we figure that out?

Well, it’s a process, but I try to help people start it by asking them a simple question:

What’s your anchor?

When I ask that question, I’m asking about what keeps you grounded; what’s your home base. We all know what an anchor is. It’s a heavy piece of metal that keeps a ship steady and in the same place, when the time is appropriate. I’m a word nerd (surprise!) so I love this definition of anchor: “a person or thing that provides stability or confidence in an otherwise uncertain situation.” Your anchor is what provides you stability and confidence in a changing, frantic, uncertain world. It’s the thing that keeps you grounded, and keeps your life from capsizing. For me, your anchor is an idea that is much more complex than the word suggests: it’s about your values, your relationships, and even your purpose. Your anchor is your “why”. It is the essence of what makes you who you are.

The anchor, literally and figuratively, determines whether or not you’ll make it through a storm. The anchor determines whether you stay or leave. And, to just wear this metaphor completely out, I want to note that the anchor goes where you go! Ships don’t pick up a new anchor every time they decide to dock. Ships have anchors ON BOARD! Wherever they go in the world, the anchor is there to settle and ground them if needed. That is what our anchors can do for us!

A couple of weeks ago my pastor was preaching and mentioned a favorite song in the black church, a song by Douglas Miller entitled “My Soul Has Been Anchored in the Lord.” The song starts this way:

Though the storms keep on raging in my life,
and sometimes it's hard to tell my night from day.
Still that hope that lies within is reassured
as I keep my eyes upon the distant shore;
I know He'll lead me safely to that
blessed place He has prepared

But if the storms don't cease,
and if the wind keeps on blowing, (in my life)
my soul has been anchored in the Lord.

It’s easy to see why this song is a favorite! The message is simple: Life gets messy, and scary, and even overwhelming. But my anchor keeps me safe and gives me hope. For those of us who are believers, our faith very well might be that anchor. But don’t stop there- get specific!

If the idea of anchor feels a little too broad, here are some additional questions to consider:

  • What are the particular things in your life that keep you feeling safe and secure?

  • What are the most important values in your life?

  • What kind of person do you aspire to be?

  • What do you want others to know most about you?

  • What brings you joy and fuels your passion?

When you know your anchor, life becomes more manageable, and decisions are easier to make. It’s worth the time to reflect and get a good sense of what grounds you! Thanks for reading, and make Well Choices!

Photo by Rostyslav Kondrat on Unsplash