"Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice." -Stephen Covey
I saw movie Pearl Harbor over Memorial Day weekend. It served as a good reminder of tremendous cost of freedom. There is also a tremendous cost to not having freedom.
In a physical sense, most of us enjoy freedom. In an emotional or psychological sense, however, an estimated 80% of population puts themselves into a self-imposed prison cell on a regular basis. We forfeit our freedom of choice through our own thought processes. I frequently hear my clients say, "I have to" or "I gotta" or "I should" And when I hear those phrases I often ask, "Do you have to or do you choose to?" There are very few things in life that we have to do. Yet some of us forfeit our choice to point of seeing our options in life as limited. This generally leads to a feeling of hopelessness.
There are indeed times when you are not at choice. When you are not at choice, you may be a victim. And sometimes you might slip into victim role when, in fact, you do have choices. The first step toward getting out of a self-imposed victim role is to recognize choices you have.
Exercise Your Free Will
"Independent will is our capacity to act. It gives us power to transcend our paradigms, to swim upstream, to rewrite our scripts, to act based on principle rather than reacting based on emotion or circumstance." -Stephen Covey
We have been given ability to examine our conscious thoughts and choose how we react in any given situation. We learn at a very early age that if we act a certain way, we will achieve a certain result.
Often result we opt for is safety. And safety is necessary to preserve our physical well-being. However, our desire to be "safe" sometimes paralyzes our ability to exercise our free will. From childhood on, most of us have been programmed to "play it safe," and this often affects choices we make as adults. We tell ourselves, "That was so disappointing before, so I better not take that chance again."
Do you allow your fear of hurt, rejection, or failure to determine how much risk you are willing to take? What is cost of doing this? Perhaps you're stuck in a job or career path you hate, or you are in a relationship that does not serve you, or you've chosen not to pursue a relationship you want. Do you struggle with low self-esteem and self- confidence? If so, you are probably severely hampering your ability to manifest what you want in your life by convincing yourself that you should not try, or that you do not deserve what you really want. Our choices are strongly influenced by our disempowering emotions. By learning to recognize and step out of experiencing these emotions, a whole new world of possibility will be available to you.
I know this from personal experience. For 13 years I chose to stay in a stressful career that I did not find fulfilling. The more time I invested in that career path, less at choice I felt. At one point I took an exam to receive a special certification in my field. When I passed exam and was certified, I felt like there was no turning back! I told myself, "I can't leave this field now look how much I've invested in it!" And besides, I had no idea what else I could possibly do. Fear held me back, until one day pain of not making a change outweighed fear of unknown.
Susan Jeffers, author of Feel Fear and Do it Anyway, teaches us how to stop negative thinking patterns and reeducate our minds to think more positively. In her book, she shows us how to risk a little every day, how to turn every decision into a "No-Lose" situation, and much more.
When my clients focus on their values -- what is most important to them at core -- they are more at choice and less at effect. They recognize that they have freedom to choose based on their own values, versus being influenced by limiting beliefs, circumstances, or opinions of others. One of great joys of being a coach is that I get to journey with my clients as they create work and play they are most passionate about. When passion and talents/skills intersect, there is no limit to possibilities!
"If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all." -Anna Quindlen
Most of us grew up with an "outside-in" model of thinking. In other words, we have been influenced by advice and opinions of others rather than trusting answers from within. When we follow outside-in model, results do not usually bring about a deep level of satisfaction or fulfillment. Outside-in thinking means that we try to change, improve, or transform ourselves and our circumstances based on what others think. Outside-in thinking represents a reactive model, based on external circumstances. Not only is this less effective, but it usually takes more effort and energy.
The "inside-out" model of thinking represents a proactive model, which is based on accessing one's own internal wisdom and core values. The word "proactive" means more than merely taking initiative. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have initiative and responsibility to make things happen. When we align our actions with essence of who we are and what we value most, we are using inside-out model. As each of us more fully honors our essential selves and our values, outer conditions begin to change, improve, and even transform.