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Paint Paralysis

Earlier in our marriage, Matt and I gut-rehabbed a home.  If you live in a city old enough to have homes that predate 1900, you can probably appreciate all the twists and turns that this project had in store for us.  From finding newspapers from the 1910s as insulation in the walls (hello fire hazard!) to floors that were sinking beneath our feet, it was always something.  Finally, though, we made it to a point in remodeling where we got to pick paint colors.  I was so excited.  

Paint color has no magical power, yet it seems to.  The color, shade, and finish you pick have the allure of being what will make or break a room.  How will people feel when they walk into the family room?  Will it highlight the natural light?  Will it hide my children’s dirty fingerprints?  Will the world keep turning if I pick the wrong color?

I remember going to Home Depot, staring at the paint swatches, and feeling completely frozen in indecision.  Worse than that, I could not even make any sort of choice remotely related to the paint.  I left empty-handed and completely overwhelmed.  I had what I call paint paralysis.  

There are seasons in our life that feel similar to paint paralysis.  We have to make a big decision.  Things did not turn out as planned, and now we need to figure out a solution.  We feel like picking a paint color is akin to moving a mountain.  

Too often we give more weight to the decision than the process of small steps to get there.  We think that the paint color we pick will determine our experience of living in our home.  We forget that we can change our minds, move in a different direction, or that paint color is just a small piece of what makes up how our home feels.  We become immobilized to make any decision, which can often lead to an increase in rumination, anxiety, and depression.  

Here’s what we have to do: move in any direction.  Yep.  Just take one step towards somewhere.  It may not be the right one.  That’s ok, movement is the key.  Although the world projects that it is, life is not a linear path.  It’s a path with hills, mountains, valleys, jungles, and deserts.  It has turns and parts where you can’t see what is ahead.  That’s ok.  Just take one step forward in any direction and see where it leads you.  

One small choice will lead to another, which leads to another, and before you know it you’ve made significant progress.  Start with something easy, pick out a roller or a brush.  Pick out a brand of paint.  Slowly but surely, the bigger decisions because less daunting and easier. 

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