The power of choice

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Choice is the central component of the human experience

Choice is something that everybody makes consistently in their lives and choice is something which is the central component of the human experience and which can determine the nature and quality of one's life experience. Choice is where you exercise your authority and your autonomy within the context of your life and your circumstances, and where you are denied the ability to make choices you will inevitably end up badly traumatized and your mental health will invariably suffer.

This is why people commit suicide. They feel that their choices carry no power. Choices are that important.

Choices can have infinite power but can also carry infinite consequences

You might think that the major choices are the obvious ones - buying a home, finding employment, getting married, having children. These are actually your small choices. But the big choices, the really big choices, the ones which determine your health, your thinking, your mental health, how other people perceive you, who you become known as, are all the little trivial (to you) choices you make while lying in bed staring at the ceiling or in the privacy of your bathroom. You might think these choices are minor and insignificant, but I have found that repeatedly, repeatedly among many people, these have often been the most critical.

These are the decisions which carry an impact on your biology, on your mental health, on your development, on your individual concept of who you are and what you're about, on your metaphysic and belief systems, on your whole identity. These seemingly small decisions are the ones which shape you, powerfully, and quite often in the eyes of other people. These decisions therefore affect your sense of emotional wellbeing, your sense of being, your soul, and your entire Life Script.

But also how can you know what is a major decision and what isn't? Unless you've been really lucky, and fortunate, and had someone point this out to you, nobody probably has ever made you aware of the power and consequences of your choices. Your parents were probably too busy modelling their own choice making strategies on you, making decisions for you, and you were judged on your choices with approval and disapproval, or reward and punishment, based on what they felt were good choices and what weren't. In school you weren't expected to make choices, but accept that others made your choices for you. You just had to follow the rules and obey. Unless you've been fortunate to have someone teach you, you've probably had to figure it out for yourself through a lot of trial and error. Most people haven't figured it out. Not even close. You might be one of these people.

Four powerful choices

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You know that choices are important and powerful. You don't need anyone to tell you this. You knew it probably all along ever since you were a little shit who answered back to your parents or did things you weren't supposed to. Making the choices maybe isn't even the problem. It's the consequences. It's how other people will react and how they will respond to you making your choices. We know just how powerful making a good choice is, and what it can do for us. But we also know how making a bad choice can really screw things up for us as well.

It's this knowledge which puts us off making choices. Where do you want to meet for coffee? I don't know. Choose a cafe. No. People are just as scared of making choices as they are of making commitments. They're terrified of the implications and consequences. You choose. They're terrified of being held responsible for a consequence. They avoid taking a position. Procrastination is like a game of tennis. Your mind says "I think.." and your heart says "I feel..." You keep your thoughts and your feelings separate, because if you don't then you have to reach and a position and do something. Making a choice scares people. Most people will do anything to avoid making a choice.

Let's try and make things easier by writing about four powerful choices which you can make at any time, on your own, and even when the bathroom door is locked. These are four choices which will inevitably empower you and go towards changing life for the better. If you screw up on any of these choices it's not a problem. You can always start again and give it another go. But all these four choices matter and make a big difference.

This is all about making it real and keeping it real. This is not "Well I live a good life.." or "I'm a good person." Really? Define good. Life is not all about you. Life is actually about other people. This is a choice to make a commitment not just to talk the talk, but you're also going to walk the walk. You're not only going to speak the truth, you're going to live the truth by matching up what you believe with what you say and what you do.

This is about making a commitment to being real, and a commitment to living your life on the basis of authenticity and personal integrity. You make your choices on the basis of what you believe and you don't just talk about it, you do it, and you don't tell other people who you are, you show them. But what this really means is that you are never ever going to betray yourself. You are not going to compromise yourself, you're not going to compromise your values.

But what this also means is that you make a commitment not to make another person uncomfortable, or diminish their dignity, or force them into a role which goes against them just to please you. You simply refuse to put yourself into such a situation, and if you find yourself in such a situation you walk, you leave, you quit, you do whatever it takes so that you are not in a situation which holds another person captive. You just don't go there because any such situation has no integrity.

Liars don't heal and fakes never prosper. Liars don't get anywhere meaningful or beneficial and the costs will always outweigh the benefits. You can wear all the right clothes, make all the right moves, make all sorts of shit up and get people to believe it, but the honest person who is real and authentic will always get much further on a lot less. Sure they will have to sift through all the liars and fakes out there too, but see when someone real connects the connection is real, and it lasts.

Dishonest people, people who either tell lies or are living a lie, people who lack a moral compass and who just don't get it, people who blame others for things that they do and they know it, and people who make choices and they make those choices knowing that another person is going to pay or suffer for that choice and they are conscious of this, such people are toxic. This refers to the people who speak, or talk, or make promises, and they know that the words coming out of their mouths are not true, and they know that someone else is going to be hurt by that, and we can include all those people who deliberately go out of their way to say something or do something to hurt somebody else. These are all examples of bad karma.

Karma is not the freaky Western concept of divine retributive justice that many people seem to think karma is. Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning 'action'. Karma is commonly misundersood to be a form of divine retributive justice especially in Western culture. This is far too simplistic because like consciousness or the environment karma can never be fully understood or know. It is too complex and too infinite. Karma can can only be felt or experienced. This means that karma is like love and fear, the two dominant forms of energy in human interaction. It can only be defined by you as a part of your individual experience and perspective. You cannot define karma or know of it as a complete entity.

You share your perspective, and your insight and wisdom, but not your suffering. You have a choice. You can either pass on the insight and wisdom, or you can pass on the suffering. This comes down to whether you want to be a victim or a survivor. What do you want to share with other people? The trauma or the narrative? It's up to you, it's your life, it's your choice. You can pass on whatever you like, but again, this comes down to the choice.

This doesn't mean that we don't have grief, or suffering, or issues, or weaknesses. This is not 'positive thinking' bullshit, or suggesting you become invulnerable, as hard as stone, or pretend to be a brick. Conversely, if you need support from others you need to reach out and get it, you need to work through your issues, accept your weaknesses, your issues, and your vulnerabilities because if you don't you will be passing on your suffering to others. Nobody else needs to be the victim of your issues.

But if we look at life, and all the great spiritual and religious traditions, we find one thing they all have in common, is that life will never be that wonderful collective Kumbaya singing experience, it will never be idyllic or even what we call fair. Life is an experience which comes with suffering, pain, heartache, misery, loss, and sickness. Life is never going to be that simple experience based on 'this is why this has happened.'

It's like when someone says, "If I only knew..." If you only knew what? What difference would that make? You have no idea why you go through certain experiences and traumas. Maybe you have a gammy leg or wonky eyes because that's how it worked out and you were meant to go through that experience. The human species is based on diversity and physical imperfection. What if God sent down an angel to Earth and people found the angel and the angel asks "What do you want? You've been wandering around and mithering, but what do you really want?"

So say you say something like "I want to know why this happened, or this happened, or this happened."

So what if the angel just smiles and says "Well, shit happens." Now what?

Some people go through stuff which is so tragic it's unspeakable. Some people have gone through such trauma which makes you wonder how they managed to get through a day. Nothing can make such trauma go away. But this is the thing, you should not ever diminish or negate your tragedies or trauma in life. It's just as much a part of you as anything else. It's what makes you you just as much as anything else. It's part of your story, your narrative, your history. Nothing can make that better.

You see when it comes to trauma, and healing, and recovery, it's important that, as part of the healing and recovery you never ever forget the trauma you have lived through. This is not about forgetting, or diminishing, or discounting. It's about looking at what you've gone through, what you've experienced, and saying "This will never destroy me or defeat me." This is about you not being defeated ever by what you go through in life, but also you will not accept that what has happened as your karma or lot. You have to somehow find a way to turn your experience into your source of wisdom, your narrative, your story, something which you can share with others to provide insight. This is making the choice not to live in misery.

This is what this choice is about. You choose between insight, and wisdom, or misery. You cannot change what has happened, you cannot make it go away, but you can make the choice between wisdom and insight on the one hand, and misery on the other.

This is making the choice, and a commitment, to taking risks and giving chances in life. This is important. While choice is central to the human experience, trust is central to the human connection. Stop holding out for proof. Take risks. Give people chances. Follow hunches.

You see if you ever become incapacitated, or become ill, or weak, or stifled, you're invariably going to go through a stage of regrets. Whenever you get held back or incapacitated you will always hit the regret stage. You will always hit that stage where you say to yourself "I should have done this." Or "I should have listened to so and so." You will always hit that place each time you hit a position of weakness. It doesn't matter if you're going to recover and come back. You will always hit the regret stage or as I refer to it the Could Have Should Have But Didn't stage.

This is true even if you just come down with a cold or the flu. See whenever you feel your strength and stamina slipping away you always start to review the life we feel we should have had if we had taken risks and given people chances. This is the life we would have lived had we listened to someone, had we not been afraid of being wrong, of being humiliated, afraid of being rejected, afraid of being let down. There may be other questions. What if I couldn't follow through? What if I couldn't take the consequences? What if I ran out of money? What if I end up alone? Yeah. What if?

Okay so go home and ask yourself how many of your fears in life have actually come true? How many of your actual worst case scenarios and worst nightmares have actually come true? Then you can go through your contacts list and your friends and ask yourself how many of those friends have let you down? Then you can go even further. How many of the good things and positive changes in your life did you actually have anything to do with? Probably at most two or three instances, and one instance will likely involve a friend and cause you to laugh about it now. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here.

The best thing which have happened to you in your life you had sod all to do with. How did some of the best events in your life take place? Probably they were down to a lot of factors which you didn't even have a clue about, and which were incredibly risky and you didn't know anything about it. You might not have even existed had your mother not shifted her arse in bed over a sticky patch on the bottom sheet while your father drifted off back to sleep. Nine months later you appeared on the scene. Life is in itself an incredible risk.

Stop playing it safe. When you're making decisions about life, stop looking backwards for guidance. There's nothing back there for you. The reason why you are where you are now and can look yourself in the face in a bathroom mirror is because that part of your life is over. It's history. Stop trying to create your future out of your history. Don't go there. Avoid it. See when you have to make a choice or a decision in your present time, that's when you need to open your mind, get out of your home, explore, experiment, seek out new faces, new experiences. Don't go back to who you were, what you did, and back into the past. It will pull you back and drag you down. You'll be going back to images of yourself which are false.

Life is short. Very short. In fact nobody knows how long they're going to live or even how and when life changes. A lot of opportunities aren't going to come back a second time, or if they do, you're probably not going to be in that position to take them up. Within this is a choice between regrets and mistakes and failures. There is a difference. You can get a lot of wisdom and insight from mistakes and failures, but not from regrets.

Words are powerful. Very powerful. Words form the basis of magic. Casting a spell involves words. The fundamental basis of all magic is language. Spelling, or putting letters together to make a word, is the same activity as spellcasting. Think of the power a single word can have when it is spoken to someone else. Now think of the words which have power over you, whether you are the one saying that word, or it is a word spoken by someone else.

Now what are the words you use which you should never say to yourself? What are the words you should never use? What are the words you should never even have in your mind? Think about this. Think about the words you use, and the toxic parts of your vocabulary, and how the toxic part of your language affects the energy around you, fills your mind, shapes your brain. How do these words affect the energy between you and someone else? Think about the effects of that toxic vocabulary put into words and sentences and shared or used against people, and how it serves to create divisions, hostility, shuts down discussions and discourse. How is the political discourse the politicians and media are feeding you affecting you in your community? How effective is that political discourse in getting you and others where you need to go in life?

You want a clear example? Try Brexit.

How is that one word used in its various contexts creating hostility, hostility to everyone you meet, everything you see, and the other areas of life and society? How about the hostility which is directed towards yourself?

Think about this. You wake up in the morning and you are angry. You are hostile. You see your life as not enough. You see others as not enough. Your first reaction to everything is critical. Your first reaction is that "This is not good enough". These people are not good enough.

Here you have two power words 'blame' and 'deserve'. I blame them. I deserve this. You feel entitled. These are three words which are lethal and toxic to humanity - blame, deserve and entitled. If you could erase those three words from your mind, completely, you would have no idea how much better you would feel and how much easier things would become. If you never ever used those three words again things would be so much easier in your life, you would not be so depressed. You're not entitled to anything. Blaming others, or blaming anything, it dis-empowers you. You might as well lock yourself in shackles and handcuffs. Seriously. It opens your mind to the mental health virus known as ideology and when ideology takes root your individuality and integrity will be eaten away. Your perception will become distorted.

This is the whole issue of following an ideology. Any ideology. You set yourself up as having a solution - usually someone else's solution - and blaming other people for some sort of failure, be it a moral failure, political failure or any other sort of failure. You place yourself into a position of social conflict. Rest assured that if you are blaming someone else, other people are blaming you. Have you ever thought of how many people there could be out there blaming you and pointing the finger at you? How would you like to dwell on that thought? If you are blaming others, then someone is also blaming you.

But also choices can have an infinite number of consequences. If you are blaming others, rest assured that someone is taking anti-depressants because they know you, or they have developed social anxiety, or depression. Someone has changed their perspective of other people because of you. How would you like to dwell on that thought?

There's nothing wrong with being a young conservative or debating the principles of socialism while you're in your 20's, still trying to figure the world out and also still trying to get your shit together. But there comes a point in life where you have to find your own way to a laundrette, figure out your own life script, your own game plan, create your own language, culture and community, and walk your own path through life without needing to suck on the tit of external authority.

People who are native English speakers just don't realize or understand the enormous advantages their language gives them. English has more words than any other language on the planet, at well over a million. Out of well over a million words, at most you're probably not going to develop a vocabulary of more than 40,000 to 50,000 words. Go to university and knock yourself out being an intellectual, go be a professor and you're going to struggle to get a vocabulary of more than 50,000 words. Out of the million and more words, and your vocabulary of 40,000 words, you're probably not going to use more than say 300-400 words every day.

This is also why English is so popular as a second language. No other language offers you the opportunity to communicate with other people knowing just a couple of dozen words. Then you have 300 million people, Americans, working to make English even simpler. Take for example the word pavement, which Americans changed to sidewalk after a few of them got squashed by cars while walking down the middle of the road. This is also why Americans changed horse riding to horse back riding, after some Americans kept tugging the tail of horses and getting kicked in the face.

You can seek to make each day in some way meaningful, and to wrap that meaning in language.

This is the final choice. Choose to get up, every single day, and seek out and find some significance or meaning in your day. You may not know what is going to happen in your day but your day is significant? Why? Your day is special because you've woken up, you can breathe, you are conscious, and you can pee. Doesn't matter what you have and what you haven;t got, what matters is that you're awake, you're alive and you just are. Just because you are. Tell yourself that this day is never going to come again. I'm never going to live through the events of today ever again. I will not have the chance to go through any events which take place today ever again. I will not have the same chance to connect to people as I have today ever again. I will never see the sun in the sky. Or hear the music. Just this way as it is today, ever again. Nothing in my life will ever come again this way.

Just that choice alone, that single choice, should cleanse your heart and your mind of any bitterness which exists. Choose to live for yourself, and live for the moment.