Choices: The Buck Stops Here!

We can choose our reaction to every circumstance. Now, I know this is a very unpopular thought in today’s “victim” society. However, no matter what happens to us, we have the choice how we react to it. We choose our path. No one chooses it for us. This is why the buck stops here folks. We can choose to react in a negative or positive way. In fact, everything we say and do is a choice. If we walk out a door we can choose to turn left or right. Depending on our choice, it creates our next experience. Let’s say we turn left and go into the kitchen. There we are have an entirely different experience than if we turned right and went into the basement. No matter what we do, EVERYTHING is a choice.

An example:

All our summer clothes are stored in boxes in the garage. There is so much junk stacked up that we can’t get to our summer clothes. We have choices. We can fret and stew and be angry at the situation. We can go out and buy more clothes. We can pull ourselves together, march out into the garage, clear a path to the boxes, and retrieve our summer clothes. Or, we can actually clean the entire garage and be pleasantly surprised at what we find that we thought was lost.

Let’s look at each choice.

A. Stew and fret: our blood pressure rises, our discomfort level rises, we still don’t have access to our summer clothes. If we wait long enough it will be winter again. As you can see, nothing has been solved. We remain a victim of circumstances and our own lack of action.

B. Buy more clothes: Well, we now have summer clothes to wear. But, where do we store them when we are done? Back in the pile of other boxes in the garage for the cycle to start all over again next year? It has cost us money we could have used elsewhere and there is still no solution to the real problem, convenient, organized storage.

C. Clear a path and retrieve our summer clothes. In doing this, hopefully we will do more than just clear a path. Perhaps we will better organize for next year. We might even find some of those missing things we have been looking for. In clearing the path, perhaps we will make a commitment to do a little more clearing each month until it is done. At least in clearing the path we have reached some sort of middle ground that we can look back on and see some satisfaction in. And, we have taken responsibility for our situation.

D. Clean the entire garage and be pleasantly surprised at what we find that we thought was lost. Wow! What a treasure hunt! Imagine the end result. This happened to me a while back. I used to own a boutique locally. When I closed the doors I brought everything home. My living room was stacked. My bedroom was stacked. My office was stacked. My library was stacked. It took me years to completely go through things and clear out the clutter. I have finally gotten the down to just my library. However, it seems to have taken on the life of the place we all dump things we don’t know where to put or don’t want to be bothered with it.

I need a quiet place with a comfortable chair where I can meditate, read, and record my thoughts and feelings in my journal. There is no room in the library and that is the place I want back. I started cleaning. It was difficult to start. Because there was so much I had no idea where to start. Not knowing where to start is often the reason nothing gets done. It is too overwhelming. I was once asked how I would eat an elephant? I had no clue. Finally my friend said, “One bite at a time”. Now I use that philosophy in tackling overwhelming projects. I simply pick up the first thing I bump into.

It is amazing what I have found. Things that I wanted or needed for years appeared as I peeled back the layers. I would stop, admire the find, announce it to everyone, then find a place for it. I have to admit that I am a frustrated organized person because I have not yet learned to put things back in their place. It is a lesson I still struggle with. However, I have found that the secret is to get rid of everything that I have not used in over a year. If I have not used it, I probably won’t. If it is because the item has been hidden by all the clutter, I bring it into the light and give it a place. I am still working on my library. I can see the floor. I can get to my desk. I am to the point where family members walk through and say, “Wow!” So, I have every hope of overcoming this personal weakness. I know it will make my life easier and less stressful, but it will also give me a place of peace, quiet, and alone time.

We will be discussing each of the four choices. I found this exercise very informative. It helped me to understand how I was choosing to react. It helped me to understand the impact it has had on my life, the limitations it has caused me and the frustration and anger it has triggered in me. Understanding choices and how we make them may help you to conquer your demons as well.

This choice is a personal choice that you make yourself. It involves no one but you. It doesn’t actually effect anyone but yourself unless the garage is a touchy point in your household. Therefore, no matter what, the choice is all yours, baby.

A. Stew and fret:

our blood pressure rises, our discomfort level rises, we still don’t have access to our summer clothes. If we wait long enough it will be winter again. As you can see, nothing has been solved. We remain a victim of circumstances and our own lack of action.

B. Buy more clothes: Well, we now have summer clothes to wear. But, where do we store them when we are done? Back in the pile of other boxes in the garage for the cycle to start all over again next year? It has cost us money we could have used elsewhere and there is still no solution to the real problem, convenient, organized storage.

C. Clear a path and retrieve our summer clothes. In doing this, hopefully we will do more than just clear a path. Perhaps we will better organize for next year. We might even find some of those missing things we have been looking for. In clearing the path, perhaps we will make a commitment to do a little more clearing each month until it is done. At least in clearing the path we have reached some sort of middle ground that we can look back on and see some satisfaction in. And, we have taken responsibility for our situation.

D. Clean the entire garage – As discussed in this post already

Choice by Consensus

This one is simple. You make a choice as part of a group or based on the information and advice provided by others. The alleged logic is that you don’t have to take full responsibility if it doesn’t work out. You risk getting nothing that you wanted. And if by some chance you do get something, it isn’t really yours.

Choices based on Negative Consequences

If you are always worrying abut the negative consequences of a decision, you often go ahead with things simply because you don’t want to risk what might happen if you don’t. You can get so caught up in the negative that you lose track of what is really important. And, you can feel victimized by these possible negative consequences, with resentment leading to anger.
However, there are positive sides to this choice method. Possible negative consequences can be positive motivators! This does not mean you avoid what you don’t want rather than choose what you do want. The philosophy for our laws is based on this negative consequences theory. Deter possible crime by the possible negative consequences for that crime.

Choice by default

This decision-making choice is that you don’t make a decision at all, you just wait to see what happens.
Example: You are standing on a railroad track. A train is coming. You have three choices. You can get off the track. You can remain on the track and you can choose not to choose and the choice will be made for you. That is the default choice. You must be willing to accept whatever the consequences for not choosing. And even that is a choice.

The process rather than the results

The difference between focusing on the HOW rather than the What. She uses the following example: Your end goal is to have a home for your heart. “You decide to take some decorating classes, hire a decorator, or purchase a bedroom set. You then assume that by doing so, you’ll eventually end up with your goal,” she explains.
“This is not necessarily the case.” You can go to college without becoming educated, eat healthy foods and still feel unhealthy, decorate your home and still, in the end, not have a home for your heart. Therefore you can opt to use the actual steps of the design process to further develop your vision, but don’t entirely rely on them to bring about what you need and desire.”

Choice by Elimination:

You procrastinate, letting things go unattended until they become intolerable, and then you have no recourse other than the one you could have chosen months earlier!” Results: frustration, anxiety. It cripples your creativity. The end result, do to the haste and rush of doing something, anything to change things, is lack of balance and harmony. The result will not be satisfying nor done as well as if you had taken the time to do it the way you wanted to in the first place.

Conditional choices

“You decide that before you can totally commit yourself to your inner vision, you must meet some arbitrarily chosen condition.” That you will have a home for your heart as soon as your neighbor stops throwing his beer cans in your yard. That you will be organized as soon as your kids start picking up their rooms. She continues, “You set up false cause and effect relationships, and endowing external circumstance with the power to bring you happiness, or keep you from it. It’s usually the latter that tends to happen.”

Choosing only what seems reasonable and possible.

Self-limiting, safe, no risk… fearing failure you choose only those things that you know will not fail. In doing so, you limit yourself and your dreams. You settle rather than dream. You settle, and 20 years down the road wonder what happened to your life.

One of my favorite concepts from Steven R Covey, who’s books include, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People” is that we need to act, rather than be acted upon. Make choices before they are forced on us, where we then have no choice.

The path of Least Resistance, what seems like the easy path now, often turns out to be a difficult one down the road. In never saying no, we give up the things we really wanted to do for ourselves. In never setting firm boundaries, others are always infringing on our personal rights, our personal space. If we take the easy road, because it is easier than the struggle that it takes to make our dreams come true, we live a life of disappointment. We settle for less than we deserve. We settle for less than life can be. We never risk. We never grow. We pass up opportunities and we stop short of our goals.

Sometimes the road to our dreams is paved with hard work. But it is worth it!

Chris

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~ by womenstudycenter on January 13, 2009.

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