You Can Choose


life is all about choicesOh yes, you can choose. You can choose pretty much every aspect of your life, from the small to the large, from the clothes you wear to the colour of your hair, and the music that you listen to, and of course, to the politicians you elect to run your country and ultimately tell you … what you can choose.

But it’s not all lollipops and roses, this ability to choose. First off, once we’ve chosen, we might not be happy with what we chose, and we might not want to take responsibility for how our choice worked out.

That’s free choice. And it can be exhausting.

Now, of course, there’s some stuff that is best when it’s our choice. That’s the prime directive from our childhood – it’s all about getting out from under the right of other people to make choices for us. We can’t wait for the day when we’re on our own, able to decide what we want to eat, drink, and wear, and how we wish to behave without being told what we can and cannot do.

And yes, we find out the hard way that these choices are always available to us .. as soon as we are able to pay … financially, physically, and emotionally … for the right to choose, and the consequences of what we have chosen.

It’s a child’s parents who have to teach children how to make smart choices.

One thing that parenting magazines stress is that giving kids virtually unlimited power to make choices is damaging to the child.

Some kids are better at decisions than others; some kids shut down when confronted with too many choices.

But one thing is certain. “An infinite number of choices will make a child anxious and insecure, ” says Dr Gorski. “Think how you feel when you have a dozen important decisions to make. What we think are small issues, such as what to wear, or what to eat, are huge to a child. Having to make too many choices – even kid sized ones – can be overwhelming.”

Children are more comfortable within boundaries. “A child who acts up is begging with her behaviour to be shown limits. ”

I know exactly how they feel. It’s not so different when we get older. Yes, it’s great to be able to choose our destinies – that’s what being an adult is about! However there are times when it’s just so much easier if someone else makes the choice for us.

Take music, for instance. It’s great to be able to access any song we want to hear, and to hear it as many times as we would like, but sometimes, it’s more relaxing to let a radio station’s programmer made that decision. Not only might we hear songs we like, but we might even hear new songs we wouldn’t have found on our own.

no choice is still a choice. jpgOr TV programs. Remember how we used to follow a series for years .. like Seinfeld, or Friends, and Thursday was the night you didn’t go out because you might miss an episode?

Well, it’s not like that anymore, because there are 500 channels on the satellite, and then there’s NetFlix, Hulu, Kanopy, and a half dozen other additional outlets, and then you can also stream television episodes from any point in the history of broadcasting, and watch them at any time of the day or night.

All you have to do is choose which episode … And again .. that’s stressful. What if you decide to watch this one episode, or this movie, and there’s another better one you don’t have time to watch because there’s only so much time in anyone’s life?

You can choose. But sometimes, it is great when someone else chooses for you. Isn’t it great when you ask your official or unofficial ‘other’ what they want to do, and they tell you? In detail? What they want to eat, where they’d like to go, and what they’d like to do after that? It can feel really good to hand over the reins to someone else, occasionally.

If you are the one who is always tasked with making choices and decisions, even about petty things, like what to eat for dinner, it can become exhausting. Deciding what to make, gathering the items needed, and then preparing the meal … and doing that day after day after month after year … the excitement wears off pretty quickly.

choice is energyYou can choose to agree, or disagree, or to start a dialogue where your preferences are considered and best of all, suddenly, you have more choices!

What we learn, as kids, and what we take with us into our adulthoods, is that every group in which we are included is a community, and that not everyone’s needs can be met all of the time. Fair is not always equal. We resent if there is one person making all of the decisions all of the time. We need to spread the freedom of choice around and amongst us.

As we grow and begin to reason, we also see the consequences of our choices, and learn that what might be fun or easy in the short run, could be disastrous in the longer run. Not flossing in your teens might feel like you are getting away with something … but you’ll be making some dentist rich in your forties from the consequences. We learn that we may have to deal with the regret of making a bad choice, but that we can’t always know what is best, and that mistakes, and how we deal with them, are also a part of life.

Choice can be a liberating or a limiting thing, depending on circumstances. There are days when, just like a child, it’s best to limit your choices, to ask yourself to be responsible for just so much, and no more. Limiting the amount of decisions you need to make can be as beautiful a thing as having the reason and responsibility to make really big choices.

You can choose that too.

 

You Can Choose


There are so many things in life that we can’t control – the luck of when and where we’re born, and to whom, for instance. In life, there will be happy surprises and tragic accidents; transcendent moments and unexpected betrayals; passion and loss. That’s just how life works, in all its great beauty, heights and depths. Some stuff you get to decide – some you don’t.

One thing is certain – you’ll never know what might have been if you hadn’t been born you.

Onism – n. “the frustration of being stuck in just one body, that inhabits only one place at a time, which is like standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die-and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.”

We are born narcissists, and that’s what knocks us back when key moments occur without warning. We live under the illusion that we are in control of our lives; fate knows better. Even the most meticulously planned course of events can take a left turn, and topple us into joy or despair, forcing our emotions to run the gamut. The world keeps turning, the pieces of the planet’s puzzle drop into place, and that’s just the way it is. No choice but to deal with what we’ve encountered, but much choice in how we handle our feelings. 

path of rosesWhat gets strewn along your path as you navigate the years may surprise you. Spoiler alert … it’s not all gonna be roses. Roses need manure to flourish, so expect a lot of horse shit on that path.

Everything’s relative. Perception is reality. You may think your life is horrible, but to someone with even less of what they need, you probably look like you’ve got it made. What we choose to value says a great deal about character. If your house was on fire, what would you choose to save? What makes you get up in the morning and begin another day? Depending on how you see your life, you can feel gratitude for what you have, or feel chronically and spitefully short changed.

Lachesism: “Longing for the clarity of disaster, the desire for revelation.

There will always be tides in life, times when you feel alone, and wonder if the blackness around you is all there really is. You won’t know if you can take any more, and you’ll wonder why you should bother to even try. But the truth is, when life is tough, you can cave, or you can triumph. You can struggle on alone, or you can reach out to accept help, and to offer others help. Your choice.

We can overcome our infantile narcissism, but it takes insight. To ‘sonder,’ means to realize that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. Yes, you are the star of your own inner movie, but everyone else is also living their own epic. And what you do impacts upon everyone around you, whether they play a major or minor role in your blockbuster.

Once you’ve understood that all whom you encounter have as much weight and importance as you do in the universe, it takes a concerted effort to dismiss how your own behaviour changes their realities. The way you approach your emotions will have consequence. Your choice to be optimistic or pessimistic, to be altruistic or self-centered, will color the worlds of those around you, and by extension, everyone those people interact with, and so on, ad infinitum.

It’s ironic; to be truly aware of one’s own importance in the universe is to understand that everyone else is just as important.

Scary, eh? Most of us never realize the full magnitude of our actions, and unfortunately, some who do dream of using those very repercussions to achieve dominance. Again … a choice.

can't photoshop uglyWe’ve all known people who have captured our attention through their strong personalities. We call some ‘Suzy Sunshines,’ and others ‘Debi Downers.’ It has little to do with how they appear on the surface, though years of channelling strong emotion and inner convictions will eventually shape our physical forms.

Some intuitively understand the power of personality. We call those people celebrities, or movie stars, or politicians.

But for most of us, it’s the little ways we operate that matter. It’s easy to urge others to join in celebration, but much harder to open oneself to mourning. And yet both of these circumstances will alter the people around you, however subtly.

Kenopsia, n. “the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs.”

It’s important to work through that emotional gamut of joy or grief; to feel is to heal. Denial, anger, despair, rage, numbness, isolation, desperation – we need to know how they feel to know when the hurting stops. But we also have to know when to stop allowing these emotions to control us, and by extension, those around us who love us, but who have psyches of their own to protect.

Getting outside our own immediate impulses may be difficult, but it’s also a chance to understand the difference between the savage and the civilized mind. Our natural inclinations lean to a need for comfort and the attainment of our own immediate gratification of physical needs; civilization imposes the strictures necessary for all within a society to live peaceably. Civilization involves rising above the knee jerking of base impulses to a sober rethinking of how our primal reactions of rage or revenge to events beyond our control will eventually destroy the fabric that holds each society together.

When we hurt, when we’re tired, it’s so very hard to work towards a nobler self. We ask ourselves is it worth it? Is it even possible to take the high road? Or is it already too late?

… you can choose.

 

first published Dec 6/2015: bobsegarini.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/roxanne-tellier-you-can-choose/