We'll all heard people try to justify actions by saying "I had to do it...I had no choice." I am here to tell you that phrases such as that are flat out wrong.
We always have choices. They may not be good choices; they may not be choices we like, but we always have choices.
Choices lead to decisions. Decisions lead to actions, or sometimes inactions.
Maybe I am channelling Yoda tonight, but a couple of things got me to thinking about choices and decisions.
The presidential election yesterday is a big factor in my thought process. Americans had the opportunity to choose the candidate they thought would best represent their beliefs and interests and that choice lead to the decision that this country made overall.
I remember the 2004 election, and hearing a song with an unforgettable lyric...unfortunately for me, I have no idea who the artist is or the name of the song (if anyone reading this knows, PLEASE contact me!).
The lyric is "When you choose the lesser of two evils, you always get something less and something evil."
It also illustrates the idea that sometimes the choices are not ones we like, but the choices are there.
The other thing that has me thinking about choices and decisions came in the mail today. It was a bill. Now, yes, most of us have bills. This is a bill that I have known about for a long time, but today the bill had a condition to it...pay x amount of money, and by the way, the due date is in one week.
This seems simple, right? If x amount of money is not available for this bill by the due date, simply call up those kind folks and explain the situation, politely telling them when you will be able to send the money.
Like some Facebook relationships statuses, it's complicated.
The complicated details are not important for this discussion, but when receiving this bill today, I caved in on myself.
I'm going to switch gears for a it here to talk about a life changing event for me...The Hoffman Quadrinity Process. In technical terms, it is a 10 day transpersonal psychology based workshop. In simple terms, it is the hardest thing I have ever done.
I went to the Process a year ago in September along with 23 other people. During the Process, participants are guided through a series of exercises that help them explore patterns of behavior learned from parents or parental figures in our lives. Methods for identifying and breaking these patterns are taught as well. The experience is very emotionally charged, there is a lot of crying and intense bonds with fellow participants are formed.
When I returned from the Process, I felt so alive, so empowered! Living in the real world is quite different though and I soon fond myself falling back into my own patterns. The Process gave me a set of techniques to use when these old patterns emerge...but I chose not to use them.
By that time, I had been out of work for roughly three months, and while the work I did at the Process interrupted the depression I was dealing with, I quickly slipped back into old, bad habits.
Without too much analysis of the psychology behind this seemingly insane behavior pattern...I mean really, having tools and techniques to break free from patterns that hold us back in life and choosing not to use them? Hardly a sane thing. Point is, for whatever reason, I was getting some sort of benefit from choosing the depression and the lack of forward movement. Maybe it was the relative safety of staying small and unimportant. Maybe it was like Marianne Williamson says; what we are really afraid of is that we are amazing and powerful.
I continued to struggle with the depression and the anxiety...come to think of it, I am struggling with those things. No, I am not taking any meds for these things. Over the years, I have tried meds for anxiety, depression, bipolar, ADD...hell, I was even on anti-psychotics for a while, because I made the mistake of being honest with a psychiatrist when he asked me if I heard voices. While I was describing a spiritual experience, he wrote me a script to make the voices stop...of course, they didn't because anti psych drugs don't affect the spiritual realm.
The meds never really improved things for me and sometimes made things worse. So I stopped.
Lately, I feel like I have been waking up spiritually. My Navajo herbalist friend calls it remembering. I am remembering what my spiritual mission is in this lifetime. I am remembering what I am supposed to do. I am remembering what I have dine before, so that I can learn from it.
Yes, I'm looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends for the holidays. Yes, I am still dealing with feelings of loneliness and worried that I am not doing enough for the kids that I work with...but I feel like for the most part I am in a good space mentally and emotionally. Then I got the bill today, and I started to fall apart.
That inner voice that we all have started talking to me...at Hoffman, they call that voice "your dark side."
"You won't have that money by next week...what if you lose those specialized services? They're so important, but I guess you don't deserve them. You owe a lot of money for that besides what the bill said. How are you ever going to pay that? What about gifts? You have three birthdays and Christmas in December...are you going to get pathetic gifts? You're making more money than you ever have before, but you're still a loser when it comes to money! What a pitiful excuse for a human being you are!"
That my friends, is the voice of the dark side.
That is the voice that helped me feel worthless, disempowered, and pathetic this afternoon...but then something else happened.
I remembered that I always have a choice.
I can continue down the rabbit hole (as my beloved wife is so fond of saying) or, I can refuse to stay long in that old pattern, and choose something different. I realized it was time to make a decision.
I remember a quote that my counselor and later friend, Carol, had on her wall: "Change will only occur when the pain of change is less than the pain of remaining the same."
What if today is that day for me?
What if I can no longer abide by the old behavior patterns?
What if today is a good day to die? (Klingons, anyone?)
Today, I made a decision: I decided to choose a different way of living and to let go of the old patterns. I choose to move forward in love and light. I choose to live the way I envision my life to be instead of the way my dark side thinks my life should be. I choose to step into my power and my amazingness...we all have it you know!
Tomorrow I may choose something else, but this is the decision I made today.
Not many people know I'm a Reiki Master. The principles of Reiki give s beautiful example of choice in the present moment:
Just for today, I will not worry Just for today, I will not be angry Just for today, I will show gratitude Just for today, I will do my work honestly Just for today, I will treat every living being with kindness
I may fall back into old patterns in a day, week or month...but this is what I choose just for today.
Each day, we all have choices and decisions to make.
I've made mine...what's your decision?