Creating Choices

You do have a choice.  No matter how desperate it might seem, no matter how blocked in on all sides you might feel, there is always a choice to make.  Even a citizen in a war-torn country, can make choices. Refugees are not victims, they are people who have seized control by refusing to continue living in appalling conditions.   


Peter Greste, the freed Australian journalist who spent 400 days in an Egyptian jail said when interviewed by the ABC 7.30 report on his release in February 2015.. "When you are in that kind of environment, if you simply float through the days, there's always a real danger that you will wane down... physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and so you have got to make the choice to keep fit on all of those levels."


If people in war-zones and prison can take positive steps, then how much easier should it be for us who are living in wealthy, peaceful nations?  At times we might feel overwhelmed, powerless, trapped by circumstances, but there is always something we can do in all situations.  


Firstly, we can change our attitude towards a situation, as so many psychologists, philosophers and spiritual teachers world-wide tell us to do.  We can stop seeing ourselves as a victim of a situation, but as a key player who has options.  Secondly we can identify our choices, and thirdly we can decide what our top 'wish list' solution might be.   

Knowing we have choices and control over our lives is essential for our peace of mind but it can start with something as simple as researching what our choices are.  So often, it's not that we don't have choices but simply we don't know what they are.  So a good first step is to make a list of who might be able to help you consider your options, maybe a Doctor, a lawyer, a social worker, a manager at work, a trusted friend, a parent, there are many people who could help you come up with a list of possible choices relevant to your situation.  


Then call or write to those people.  Tell them what you want to do.  "I want to come up with a strategy for how to handle this situation" or "I want to know if we have any choices".  You will be surprised at how much extra information they will provide, and then your painful situation or decision might immediately seem simpler.  It might still be complicated, but you will at least have some actual choices to consider.   Most importantly don't forget to tell them what your 'wish list' outcome is, even if it doesn't seem possible to you at the time.  


A common perception is that we have no choices, and yet we are making choices all the time.   The young man who lets his ex partner bully him because he wants to see his only child does have a choice.  He has chosen to be there for his child but a lawyer can help him put up firm boundaries which will make child-care arrangements more sustainable.  The couple who think they have no housing options because of the man's disability, do have a choice, they can research their housing options more thoroughly, talk to the experts.  The young mother living in Ireland, pining for Australia, does have a choice, she has chosen to commit to her marriage and her children but that doesn't mean Australia can't still be a part of her life.  The youth who is plunged into depression and anxiety, barely able to function, can choose to seek help, even if that's the only choice they can see to make.  The professional support worker will hopefully help them to see that there is hope, and that they do have choices.


We can continue with our journey of life, one step at a time.  That step needs to be an action... researching on the internet, phoning a professional, seeing a Doctor, filling out a form, talking to the bank, identifying what is your wish list, identifying what it is that you really want.


The time management author David Allen in "Getting Things Done" (Penguin, 2015), says that in any major undertaking, first ask yourself what the very best outcome would be.  Then identify the "very next physical action required to move the situation forward."  


He is of course speaking about projects such as buying a car or finishing a PhD, but we would miss the wisdom in his approach if we did not see that our relationship dramas, money issues, health problems were actually projects too.


So ask yourself, what do you want out of a situation, list your first, second and third choices for outcomes, then set your wonderful, creative, versatile mind to work finding solutions.   You do have a choice, may you find the strength, wisdom and courage to seize it with both hands.


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