What sort of a day have you chosen to have today?
Most of us would respond to this question by starting with: ‘I was OK until such-and such happened,’ or ‘Well, I had to do such-and such, so I was affected by that’, or just with irritation: ‘If only I could choose!’
I’m here to remind you that those are all choices too – that’s the bad news! And the good news is that once we really grasp that it’s always a choice, we can choose differently and feel better for it.
So what do I mean when I say that we always choose? When I first came across this concept, I couldn’t make sense of it. I thought that there were too many outside influences on my life – my work, my relationships, the weather, the state of my finances, the traffic – the list goes on and on! So I rarely felt as if I could choose what my day was like; it depended on what was happening around me. I was a fairly typical victim of circumstance.
Then gradually I began to realise that maybe it was a choice of sorts, to be a victim of circumstance, and that just made me feel worse! When you get this, you just feel cowardly or stupid: why don’t I just walk away from this job, this relationship, that makes me feel like a victim of circumstance?
Eventually I began to grasp that it isn’t necessarily about running away from things that adversely affect you; in fact, that’s not possible. If we are used to being a victim of circumstance, then we will take that attitude into any situation. It is about becoming conscious of what choices we do have in any situation.
The essential distinction is between passive and active choices. A passive choice is where ‘they’ or ‘it’ have made us feel or react this way. We allow the circumstance to be in control of our destiny, our mood, our attitude, and we passively accept its influence. We say, ‘There’s nothing I can do about it.’
Yet this is not how we are naturally wired. For evidence, look at how we handle things as children, before we learn to be passive. Children don’t think, ‘Dad’s in a bad mood today, so I will have to keep quiet and not be a nuisance.’ They think, ‘Dad is in a bad mood today, so I will see if I can make him laugh, or I may go and play with my favourite toys and leave him to it – he’ll get over it.’ Children find a way of making it work for them, by choosing how they react.
We are intended to be in control of our own destiny and we have the ability to do it, by consciously choosing how we react to circumstances. It is up to me to decide how I will react to bad news, someone being unpleasant, a traffic jam, and this is what gives me control. It becomes an active choice.
We are capable of doing this – we all do it sometimes. For example, ‘I’m tired and I had a bad day, but I want to go and see my friends and have fun, so I’ll have a good shower out on my favourite perfume/after shave and put on my glad rags, and then I’ll be up for it.’ So let’s just choose to do this more often!!
- We can choose to make bad news a reason to allow ourselves an indulgence to make us feel better, or a prompt to make a change in our lives
- We can choose to let someone being unpleasant keep their attitude to themselves and let it go past us – walk away and leave them to it
- We can choose to use a traffic jam to listen to our favourite music or an audio-book
By making a conscious, active choice, we take back control of our own mood, our own attitude, our own state of mind. This helps us to make our lives work, no matter what, and keeps us in a place where we feel we can always make a positive difference, should we choose to.
Life is too short to be influenced by the negativity or adversity around us so let’s choose to enjoy our time here and make it work!!
in peace and love Di and Jo xxx