No matter what is happening in your life, it’s through choice that you will create and shape the kind of life you want.
We always have a choice in HOW we respond. We don’t always get to choose what happens in our lives, but we do always have the choice in how we respond. Every choice we make ends up with an outcome. Every choice produces a result. In every moment there are an infinite number of possibilities for us to choose—do we chose to stay stuck in anger and grief or do we chose to move out of our comfort zone and stretch and grow?
No matter what our situation in life is, there are always more things that we can change than things we cannot change.
What is choice’s role in unexpected change? Unexpected changes can leave us feeling off balance and swirling with a myriad of feelings. It is important to be with the feelings, acknowledge them, and then begin looking at the choices before you. By being grounded in your body and having a relaxed mind, you can begin to see more clearly what your choices are.
Questions to ask yourself
· How do I want to respond?
· What is in my best interest?
· What is going to move me forward?
· What is going to bring me growth and a feeling of well being?
My experience: With my family member who is chronically ill: Yes, I cycle through layers of grief, and I always come back to my belief that the most important thing I have to offer is my inner state. I watch how my thoughts want to gravitate to the past or the future where I find regret, fear, and anxiety. I see the present moment is where I can chose where I want to put my thoughts and energy. It’s in the present moment that I find love instead of fear.
Each moment gives me the opportunity to decide what I am going to do next:
Do I want to feel fear about what might happen or do I want to send love and light?
Do I want to surf Facebook or do my exercises?
Do I want to go out for a walk or read my novel?
Do I want to eat an apple or have a bowl of ice cream?
Do I want to be unhappy about the grey rainy day or enjoy the rain on the windows?
To what am I going to give my energy? Do I want to feel down in the dumps or uplifted?
Each choice creates the quality of my life.
The greatest power: choice
At every moment we are empowered to make choices. These choices can be based on anger or fear or they can be based on love and compassion. No matter what is happening you have the capacity, moment by moment, to create a sublime life simply by exercising your greatest power: the power of choice.
The Gap – According to Bill Bridges change has three stages – endings, the gap, and new beginnings. The gap is the space where the old has ended and the new hasn’t begun. For some this space brings a lot of excitement, renewal, and creativity. For others the gap is something they want to skip over. They feel anxious, uncertain, and fearful.
What makes the difference between these two experiences? Usually it is our thoughts that determine our experience. Our negative thoughts bring on fear and anxiety; our positive thoughts bring a sense of well being.
How to transform anxiety-provoking thoughts?
· First, sit comfortably in a quiet place and focus on your breath going in and out.
· Next, start noticing your thoughts without judgment. Watch how one thought arises in your mind and then is followed by another thought and then another – a never-ending stream of thoughts.
· Pay special attention to thoughts that start repeating themselves – again without judgment.
· Imagine your thoughts as different kinds of clouds floating by with the deep blue sky as a background – the clouds come and go and the thoughts come and go.
· Begin to be aware of yourself as the watcher of the thoughts – you are the blue sky watching the stream of thoughts.
· Say to yourself, “I am not my thoughts. I am the watcher.”
· As you keep bringing yourself back to the watcher, do you notice a sense of your own presence separate from your thoughts?
· With practice the sense of presence, which may feel like a deep stillness and quiet, will deepen – when you are here you are fully in the present moment and you are no longer being run by your thoughts.
My experience – This exercise has been enormously rewarding for me. When my mind starts to worry and think about what ifs – what if this happens, what if I don’t do the right thing, what if… – I catch myself as I start to feel anxious or fearful. I see that my thoughts are trying to predict the future, which I know I can’t predict. I remember to breathe deeply and remind myself I am not my thoughts. I begin to watch them as the watcher. I then feel my body relax, and I rediscover that sense of tranquility that is always accessible to me in every moment. I just have to turn to it by remembering to breathe, bringing myself back to the present, and witnessing my thoughts.
Benefits from watching your thoughts – By practicing watching your thoughts you take a step back from your thoughts and are able to experience that you are not your thoughts. You learn that your thoughts are usually about the past or the future. By learning to watch your thoughts they no longer have power over you. You learn how to be in the “gap” – in the space between thoughts and actions. It is in this space that you can experience tranquility.