Mental Health

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The Power of Choice

Published: 2021-02-19
The Power of Choice
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You know already that your performance is impacted by what goes on in your head. And you might have had some challenges with that at times. You know you’re thinking thoughts that are adversely affecting you, and you feel like you should be able to stop them.

But that can feel like an "easier said than done" idea that makes you want to scream when you just can't get a grip on thoughts that are - well, let's just say "less than helpful."

Whether it's because something huge has blown up in your life, or there's a string of smaller obstacles that leave you feeling like the Universe is out to get you, it'll all feel a whole lot worse if you're being bombarded with a lot of negative thoughts about your situation.

The worst prison on the planet is the one you create in your mind. It can make you feel trapped. Helpless. Powerless. Like there's no way out, and nowhere to go even if you could get "out" (wherever that is or whatever that means). This can make it just too easy to go with the negative thoughts and believe that you're stuck.

The longer you allow yourself to be in that place, the more difficult it is to shift into a more positive one that will get you moving again.

So you believe you're stuck. It's only a belief. That's not remotely the same as a fact. The beauty of that - and the power in that - is that you can change your beliefs. And when you change your beliefs, your feelings will change, too.

For example, if you feel trapped in an unhappy environment at home, at work, or in any other situation, the first useful tool is to change your perspective and to recognise that you are not actually "trapped." Whether or not you're about to leave, you do have the ability to do it. You have the option to make a choice about whether to stay or go.

You can also choose to begin finding solutions to the problems. Perhaps a friend or counsellor could help brainstorm some useful ideas. Maybe there are some ways to ease the situation or to make improvements that you haven't yet considered.

And if your choice is to stay put, then the next helpful tool is to focus on the blessings in your life. There are always plenty of those, even when everything seems dark and miserable.

You can also choose to meditate and take yourself to a peaceful, restful place in your mind (which can do a lot to help reduce the stress you feel in general). Practicing mindfulness meditation in particular can be helpful because you will become more mindful outside of your meditation time. This can help with controlling your thoughts and creating a most positive frame of mind.

And if your choice is to leave the situation, you can begin looking for a way out of that environment.

All of these suggestions will give you a sense of control over the situation. Without that, it's easy to feel like a helpless victim who has ended up in a terrible position because of the decisions, needs, feelings, or expectations of someone else.

It can be so easy to blame others and not recognise the part we played in things turning out as they have. Too easy, in fact.

When we do this, however, we give away our power. When we put the blame elsewhere, it's the same as saying, "I don't have the ability to choose for myself. I'm not able to make my own decisions or to say 'no' or to insist on doing something the way I want it done." We're basically saying, "Here, you can have control over my life. Take my power. Please."

But if that's what you're doing, it's probably because you weren't aware that it's okay to keep your power and make your choices. It's okay to stop worrying about trying to live up to what everyone else wants from you. You've always got one of the most powerful tools in the world at your disposal. You have the ability to make choices. Your own choices have led you to where you are right now. Yes, you had a hand in it, whether it's a good place or not, or a little of both. You made choices that have landed you exactly where you stand in your life at this moment.

And if you're not happy with it, don't throw rocks at my house for having said it. Instead, think about how that knowledge gives you back the power you didn't think you had. With that knowledge, now you have the power to make a different set of choices. That's how you'll end up on a path that was your choice, not that of someone else.

Sure, the Universe will throw stuff at you and drop obstacles in your path like grenades. That's its job, and it’s to help you on your journey of self-awareness, personal growth, and discovery. Your job is to overcome all of it. It's up to you to make choices that will allow you to navigate around them, over them, or through them, and to find your authentic self - and the peace and happiness that will come from that journey.

It all begins with every choice you make. Big ones, little ones - every one of them packs a whole lot of your own personal power, so take careful aim before releasing it to the Universe.

So...back to whatever it is that might be getting you down and creating a load of not-so-helpful thoughts that are adversely impacting your performance...The first choice you've got to make about those is that you're going to create better ones.

Look, everyone has negative thoughts just randomly pop into their heads. Doubts, worries, "what-ifs"…everyone gets them. You can't stop them from happening, but here are two important points about that: 1) what matters is what you do immediately after they land; and 2) the more you choose positive and progressive thoughts, the less often those negative ones will show up. In fact, they can virtually become a thing of the past.

Thinking about that...I can't believe how negative and pessimistic I was a few decades ago. My motto was, "If it weren't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all." I expected things to go wrong, and they usually did. I'd hated myself from my earliest childhood memories and couldn't figure out why anyone would like me. I hated almost all aspects of my life, too.

I chuckle now, remembering that. I can't believe that was even me, but it was. What a journey it has been! Now, when a negative thought tries to make its way into my head, I'm on it before it lands. I stop it in its tracks and choose a few opposing thoughts that are in alignment with where I want to keep my focus, intentions and energy.

If your thoughts are keeping you in a negative state, if they're sabotaging your performance and your happiness, if they're keeping you stuck in a place that doesn't feel good, remember this: Your ability to choose is a powerful tool. Your thoughts shape your choices, and your choices shape your life.

Whenever you’re less than happy and things don’t feel very good in your life, ask yourself this: Are your thoughts in alignment with what you want to achieve?