Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.
Roy T. Bennett
I make choices every moment of every day and whilst that seems obvious I hadn’t appreciated that the choices I make contribute directly to my overall life and well being.
I’ve recently learnt so much about what it means to make a choice, not just the usual choices I make but a more profound choice that has fundamentally changed my life.
The opportunity to even make this choice only became visible as a byproduct of seeking to understand something else. I spent some time searching, reading, listening and sitting in silence.
I found the choice right in front of me whilst I was digging into how I understood what was missing or lacking from my life that made me feel 1) psychologically safe when in group situations 2) my own awareness and mindfulness state and 3) how my personal values shaped and influenced me.
This searching was triggered from a series of events and part of that story was shared in my last post on depression and shame here.
In reality the choice was made visible because of the work and discipline I’ve been exploring and developing around my personal awareness and many of the stories relating to this have been shared already – examples include;
This one – Understanding and working with shame
This one – Learning, leadership, being vulnerable and developing shame resilience
This one – The benefits of Practice and Discipline – reflections on 5 key practices
And this one Development and Growth – A perspective on vulnerability
I learnt that there were two domains of my psychological safety that were not being met, these were;
- Autonomy – the sense one has choice
- Trust – the need for belonging
I’ll come back to these later as they play quite a big part in my choice.
In relation to my personal awareness practice, I had unintentionally stopped some of my practices as I mistakenly assumed some of my work practice learning was a replacement for those practices.
I’ve now know that those practices help me maintain a healthy state of awareness and mindfulness and my practices from work benefit from time having discipline here.
Significantly I discovered that my view of my personal values and how unintentionally placing them in a logical order actually created a barrier for my development.
After much work following the section on personal values in the Dare to Lead workbook I know my values are Love and Loyalty. However for some reason I referred to them in the reverse order and in consistently doing so, I created a priority ordering which created a bit of a false loop in my head. I literally took them in an order…
I learnt that I was prioritising loyalty to others over myself and love for others over myself.
This realisation prompted by hearing for probably the I’m 20th time, the wonderful Brene Brown state that “your ability to love someone else can not exceed your ability to love yourself” helped me to start a process of letting go.
This brings me back to autonomy and trust.
In my moment of clarity I realised that outside of group contexts I had the conscious awareness to create autonomy for myself and make the biggest choice of all – to let go of being controlled by the variety of thoughts that flow through my mind. I now see those thoughts simply as a set of tapes and stories which I now know hold no power over who I am but for so long held me captive to shame.
I’m not saying I’m permanently free although my awareness is at a place where I am consciously and consistently aware of what triggers me and I’m now able to hold space for myself. It’s new so I’m expecting some challenges in maintaining this but it’s all of incredibly powerful learning.
I also realised that in relation to trust I placed too much emphasis on other people satisfying that need and desire and was too focused on external factors which created a level of dependency which was and is unsustainable and counter to personal growth – I now know that true belonging comes from within.
I could try and sum it up but Maya Angelou says it best
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
It hasn’t been an easy path to take…and it’s a path I had to find myself.
But I now know it was worth it.
Finally I want to acknowledge a selection of books or audiobooks which have helped guide me – all of which have in some way played a part in helping me unlock this choice. This is not a comprehensive list…
A New Earth is by Eckart Tolle
Play by Stuart Brown
Dare to Lead, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Power of Vulnerability, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Untethered Soul, The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer
Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan / Lisa Laskow Lahey
The Path by Michael Puett / Christine Gross-Loh
Awareness by Anthony De Mello
What I know for sure, Super Soul Conversations, The Wisdom of Sunday’s by Oprah Winfrey
Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
You’re It by Alan Watts
The Holy Man by Susan Trott
How to see yourself as you really are by the Dalai Lama
I also want to acknowledge the Kung Fu Panda Trilogy and the important role it has played in helping me develop my understanding.
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