11-11-18 Choices


Does it seem like there are too many difficult choices to make in life? Like there’s a lot of anxiety and restlessness? Even the strongest among us sometimes falls into doubt and critical self judgement. The good news is that this layer of self-doubt is malleable; we can work with it so that we can embrace uncertainty with self-confidence. 

We are often afraid that our choices will be wrong, or that they won’t turn out the way WE want them to, or we aren’t sure what will happen. When we make choices based mostly on what WE want, we will feel uncomfortable and more alone. Almost any choice we make will not turn out exactly the way we want it to. SO, it makes sense to quit needing and expecting the result to turn out OUR way. We can stay flexible and accepting, while knowing that there are unforeseen factors and circumstances that will come into play with any plan. Feel the natural flow, which changes all the time, instead of trying to force the outcome unnaturally. Wag more, bark less.

Actively practicing my addiction cut down on the choices I needed to make. I began withdrawing from life, so the main choice I was making was to not make choices, except to continue to indulge in harmful           behaviors…to continue bringing pain to myself and others in my life. My choices were selfish, small-minded, and made in a state of pain, confusion and isolation. I did finally make the choice that I needed help in not continuing my path of destruction—the first healthy choice that I had made in a long time.

Now, I can choose to continue learning how to make healthy choices in my life if I really want to progress and grow. Or I can choose to be on a ME maintenance plan, where I refuse to make the effort to be AWARE of what is influencing my choices, and allow myself to be led by past behaviors that haven’t served me well. Any good choice involves an open mind and an open heart:  Right action, beyond fear and selfishness, with compassion.

The key to making good choices is self–awareness. The practice of mindfulness meditation is very helpful in getting to know and understand ourselves.

To unmask our inner critic, we really listen to the voices in our heads telling us that other people are better than us, that we can’t risk failure, that we need another credential before trying something new. We realize that, in listening to those voices, we have taken on limiting beliefs. They are actually just false stories, and when we see them as such, they no longer have a hold on us.

Finding our best fit will bring us joy. This is not the social message to always rise, succeed, and overcome. To make lots of money, to look right, be cool, and be on top. There may be nothing truly wrong with our lives, but we are so used to feeling uneasy and not worthy, we make up problems so we can feel lousy. It’s a feeling we’re used to, and seems to give us a sense of self. A lousy sense of self, but one we’re willing to accept and promote. Instead we can listen to the gentle voice in our heart that guides us. When we are in touch with our spiritual, whole, compassionate self, our choices will naturally include others. Any choice that only considers ME is harmful.                                                                                                                     

There are times in our lives when challenging or difficult things happen. It may be a relationship, a job, or losing someone we love. We need to go through a grieving process sometimes, and that’s necessary and healthy. We can’t feel “Yay! Wonderful!” all the time. The different components of our lives bring different flavors, and we need to taste them all. If we become overwhelmed, we need to have the strength to recognize we need some help from others and to relax and look more deeply into what’s happening. Time spent in calm consideration of what we’re really doing, and why, is essential. We must go beyond allowing Fear to lead us around by the nose.

We can use our emotions to inform us that we need to make changes – sometimes large ones. But if we isolate and quit communicating with others, stop going to programs, quit our prayer or meditation practices, stop doing the things we love and that bring us joy, and begin feeling sorry for ourselves, we are in trouble. We may revert to our addiction to mask what we’re feeling. 

Consider Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Afflicting Emotions” (with some paraphrasing): 
Recognition: If we are angry, resentful, afraid, we say, “I know that anger, resentment is in me. It is not who I am, it is an experience I am having.”                                                                                                                                         Acceptance: We accept what is present, not as good or bad, but simply accept it. Embracing our mindfulness embraces, as a sick child, our emotion, and it is calmed.                                                       Compassion: Looking deeply: when we are calm enough, we can look deeply to understand what has brought this emotion to be; what has caused it.
Insight: By understanding the causes of our difficulties, we are able to change the situation if we choose to, for the better, stepping THROUGH our initial fear and embracing a more spacious, inclusive understanding of what a good choice is. 

When you feel jangled and unsure, stop. Take a few deep breaths, center and calm yourself. Feel what the healthiest way to turn is—beyond the initial need to have only your way or to avoid a healthy choice because of fear. Use the breath! Use your courage and intuition.

Part of the joy of living is sometimes making difficult choices when we need to…not just continuing to try to feel good temporarily. We never feel good by evading life, or engaging in an obsession we are familiar with.  We will feel the rightness of a decision in our hearts, when we engage in what our intuition tells us is healthy. Even though it will bring some discomfort, or perhaps even a temper tantrum from our selfish, ego needy, small self. If you don’t do something different, not much will change. What is your choice? 

You are capable of making better choices, and being ok when you goof up. You are human, and will NEVER be perfect. Learn to relax with your imperfections, have a sense of humor and keep moving forward. You are worthy and capable. Feel this every day, right through you doubt.

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for.
Heart of Recovery web site – fcheartofrecovery.com