“We can choose to be affected by the world or we can choose to affect the world.” –Heidi Wills
Either way, we have a choice. When something bad happens we may think, “Oh my God, why did this happen?” When really, life always happens. That is one surety we can always count on. When it does though, sometimes we get caught up in automatic, negative assumptions and knee-jerk reactions. We become a slave to it. We think we have no choice. When really, we stand each and every time at a crossroads.
The problem is that we have a habit of feeling that we really have no choice in our reactions. When in reality, we’re either blind to the choice, we aren’t willing to face the alternative, or we make ourselves a victim. That’s right, we “make” ourselves a victim. While we can be victimized, we choose to become a victim when we choose not to move past a situation. We stand every day at a crossroads of responding versus reacting, having the courage to take responsibility for our actions and choosing our responses, or reacting in a way that only serves our ego.
What’s the solution? How do we remove the blindfold? In order to find the solution we first have to understand WHERE the blindfold came from. Others will say, “Who cares? What does it matter where it came from?” It matters because there are patterns to our thoughts and behaviors. Imagine driving on a highway. You know you want to get to a particular place, but you don’t know which exit to take. Chances are you’ll either get off on the wrong exit, or you’ll keep driving past exit after exit and miss the right one. However, if you know where you’re coming from, and you know where you’re going, then you can figure out which is the best exit to get you there before you even get on the road. Which way sounds better?
Assuming you chose the latter, think on situations where you’d like to make a choice to respond rather than be affected and react. Ask yourself:
- When did you start making that choice?
- How did you learn to make that choice? Who did you learn it from?
When you have that answer, ask yourself now:
- Knowing what I know NOW, what would have been a better choice?
- What healthy boundaries can I set to support myself in making that choice in the future?
- How can I become aware of when to make this choice? That way when the situation comes up again, I can choose differently.
Epictetus, a Greek philosopher, once said, “When anyone or anything provokes you, remember that it is actually your own opinion provoking you. It isn’t the person who insults or attacks you that torments your mind, but the view you take of these things.” This process helps change that view.
We aren’t born with this awareness. We create it when we take the time to learn from our past. That’s good news! It means we’re not bound to create the same circumstances over and over in our lives unless we choose. Every moment in life is a crossroads and a choice. Meaning at any time, we can make a different choice! All that is required is that you resolve to practice these subtle shifts.
Remember, this type of thinking doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, focus, and PRACTICE!
Jade will be part of a panel of ExecuNet Career Strategists who will talk with members about the biggest job search roadblocks and how to knock them down. Click here for more details.
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