Are you “At Choice” in your life? Viktor Frankyl discovered while in a concentration camp in World War II that he was very much at the effect of the SS guards on a physical level but that his mind, emotions and soul were his own. He stepped into being at choice when he decided to fully live in the moment with love, grace, curiosity and compassion, especially for the tortured souls of the Natzi guards who sacrificed their humanity.
Being At Choice means that you have discovered that you are the author of your life, the scriptwriter and the director, not just an actor at the effect of what someone else has written or told you to do. Being at Choice means that you take full responsibility for how you feel, how you think, what you do and what you are creating in your life. In this state of mind you feel effective, powerful and whole in your interactions and how your live and work with others. In this state of mind, you feel a sense of peaceful alertness, of compassionate awareness of self and others, of being open to a wide spectrum of perspectives and ways of viewing the world. Being at Choice means that you know who you are and why you are here and how to work and relate in loving, respectful and effective ways with others. You treat not only others but your body and being with dignity and love even under the most challenging of circumstances.
In my clinical work as a psychotherapist and in my consulting work, I find many people are really living more “at effect” – reacting to what others do, feeling imposed upon, focusing on that things and forces that concern them but over which they have no control, feeling victimized or powerless or at the very least resentful or upset and blaming others. It turns out that few seem to realize that they have the tremendous power of being the CHOOSER, of being At Choice in their lives.
To claim this power of being at choice requires some rigorous work in training your attention and your mind. The first stage is to simply begin to observe every time during the day that your mind moves to any thoughts that are blaming or shaming or complaining or resenting or insisting on your being or on any win/lose ways of thinking. Just pay attention and note how those thoughts and ways of perceiving cause you to feel. What you will find, is that every time you are running those thoughts that you will not feel good or happy or more able but are more constrained, tight and less open to more creative responses.
The second stage is to begin to be more curious – to actively seek to understand what is behind the thoughts and feelings that come out of feeling you are being “done onto” and at the effect of others. What is going on? What is the “story” you have created that justifies feeling righteous or angry or abused or fearful or less than or unloved or resentful or victimized? How and where have you given yourself permission to engage in hurtful, hateful, unkind, judging or highly critical thoughts about yourself and/or others? Be really curious. What is behind those kind of thoughts? What is the story-line created? Does that story line lead to any real happiness, joy, love, peace or true success in your life?
The third stage requires acting on your observations and insights from stages one and two – of making the “choice” to create a new story-line, to take full authorship of your life and to live more fully, joyfully, abundantly and creatively as the Co-Creator of your life. In this stage you ask, “What is the story I wish to tell of my life? What is the story-line I wish to live? How do I want to experience myself in interactions with others and in how I relate and work? What is the story I can now begin to write that will give me the greatest scope of awareness, of seeing, creating, understanding and being in the world? Begin to write out the outline of the new story and each day claim, over and over again, your power to choose how you will relate, connect, work, think and act in the world.
The fourth stage is a radical step. Every morning and every evening, pause before your bathroom mirror, look into your eyes and practice saying, “I love you.” That is all, just start giving yourself unconditional positive affirmation; “I love you.” Most everyone finds this to be quite difficult and will avoid it by excusing it as “airy fairy” stuff. Others will do it once or twice and not be open to what it means. If you want to be at choice, to really become a more potent, effective and loving force in your world, you will need to be truly loving of yourself. Most people are not loving of themselves but instead exist in various stages of guilt, self-criticism, self-doubt, being judgmental, conditional thinking (“I will love myself when…”), of comparing themselves incessantly to others, and /or guilt. To break the “spell” of lack of self-love requires looking into yourself and beginning to tell yourself that you “Love” yourself. This exercise will bring up all the places where you put conditions on how lovable or OK you are and will surface where you are not being loving and kind to yourself. Persist in the exercise for several months and you will begin to have a dramatically different experience of yourself and of how you are relating to and thinking about others, life and the world. Your world expands and you become more compassionate and more effective.
The fifth stage is to use your trained awareness from steps one two and three to notice every time you “indulge” in or fall back into the “old” story line. Then, in that moment, notice what you are getting from it, inevitably you will be feeling “shitty” or uptight and critical, and ask, “Does this really serve me?” The answer is almost always, “NO!” Once you have seen that the old cognitions, feelings and actions do not serve in that moment, be “at choice” and choose the new story-line, the larger sense of purpose and meaning and the responsibility to shape how you think, feel, relate and act in the world. Choose your power as the co-creator and author of your life. Then act from that place, even if there is doubt, just keep choosing the story-line and ways of thinking and acting that give you the greatest potential for freedom, efficacy, joy and love.