The Power of Choice
On average, how do people respond when you ask them how they’re doing? Do they say they’re fine?
A common acronym for fine is:
F – F-ed up
I – Insecure
N – Neurotic
E – Emotional
Or how about some more answers to “how are you?”: busy, crazy, overwhelmed, and tired, perhaps? On top of competing demands and expectations from the outside world, we have our own wants and desires for our lives. Hopefully, by the time one matures into adulthood, it’s well-known that we do not always get to have our way right when we want things our way. However, how can we get more of what we want and let go to recalibrate when we don’t? We want to let life flow, as it will anyways, in and out like the tide. Some days people are just amazing, I’m grateful and so happy that this is my life. On other days it’s a comedy of errors, and I’m left asking: did that really just happen and is this real life?
When something does not go as planned, how do you respond?
I’m talking more about situations that are beyond my control to influence the outcome. For example, I can be ticked about the weather, but I have to find some acceptance around it, or stay irate at the rain. Or another example – I can lament my personal history and wallow in my past pain, or I can learn from it and grow from it. What is in the past is gone.
What if you’re not getting what you want right now? How do you deal with the frustration? Some people shop and call it retail therapy. Some people eat and call it eating their feelings. I can fall into both categories at times. There are other disruptive or unhealthy behaviors, and we could go on and on naming examples. We tend to want to escape sometimes into television, our phones, social media, etc.
What helps me?
I think it boils down to my ability to behave mindfully as well as my spiritual condition.
When I have prayed, meditated, and gotten centered, there is a different vibe to me altogether. Some days I’m more in tune with a higher purpose and better equipped to handle life as it is, with soundness of mind and clarity of thought. It’s called mindfulness.
According to the Foundation for a Mindful Society (2018), “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” It is being in the present moment without judgment of the people, circumstances, or surroundings as bad or good. It’s utilized best when we practice this on a daily basis.
A Mindfulness Practice
A simple practice I do to help me get focused on the present moment rather than fret over the past or worry about the future is to describe my surroundings. Again, not labeling anything as good or bad but merely describing them. I am sitting on a blue couch, typing on a black laptop with my feet on the ground. Engaging all of your senses helps as well. I smell the candle burning and feel the fan blowing. Saying these things to myself (out loud if necessary) helps me to get back into my body and out of a cluttered mind until my mind clears.
What is your decision to be?
We may not get to determine how someone else drives in traffic and whether or not they cut us off, but we do get to decide our reactions to the stimulus we find ourselves facing. I’ve chosen to be with the disappointments if they come, but not dwell there. I don’t want to let outcomes own me anymore as much as they used to. I can no longer afford the luxury of negative thinking, and today I do have the power of choice. What is your choice?
What helps me is having that accountability and knowing I have guidance – a set of ears to hear what’s going on inside my head besides me just trying to do battle on my own. I’ve heard it said before – if your mind is a bad neighborhood, don’t go there alone. That is what coaching is meant to be. As Boyd says, it should be a project designed with benchmarked successes to put me out of a job ultimately. We can be that support for you. We can set you up with the gears in motion ready to drive you straight to where you want to go. You don’t have to try to figure this out alone.
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