Without awareness much of our behaviour occurs automatically, unconsciously. When that happens we surrender control of our lives to our conditioning and to the patterns of behaviour which have been our companions for so long. There is, however, an alternative. In the everyday situations in which we find ourselves – whether real or assumed – we always have a choice of how to act, react, behave, think and speak. We are able to choose how to be.
The last three weeks’ of journal entries from 11 years ago document a number of thoughts I had about myself at the time, which made life a little difficult for me and for those around me. In due course I reached the point where I could reflect on the process and draw conclusions about the options available. One option was that I had a choice.
The journal entries begin with a familiar pattern of dismissive thoughts (‘Whatever We Do We Become Good At’) and a lack of self-belief (‘Doubts & Conceit’). They address the subject of comparisons and the need for more certainty in the view I have of myself (‘A Consistent Perception of Self’). And they point to creating the positivity manually in order to override the seemingly automatic negativity (‘Stimulate Positivity‘).
Eventually, there is an appraisal (‘Taking Stock‘) which, in its assessment of the situation, feels like a reset button, seeming to wipe the slate clean before moving on to a reminder to concentrate only the facts (‘Look at the Evidence‘).
The final entry (‘Taking Back Control‘) describes a number of insights relating to various issues. Among them is an insight which, in its simplicity, could easily be overlooked, yet can be applied to each of the issues encountered in the previous posts. It is the one which contains the line ‘Whatever I’m doing and whatever is happening I have the choice to be content or not.’
It is not just applicable to the points highlighted in the journal entries. It is a procedure for every situation. Whether we’re in an argument with a loved one, receiving critical feedback from a colleague, running through a familiar internal dialogue in our heads, reacting to someone’s opinion or reflecting on the world in which we live, we have a choice.
It takes practice and we need prompting. Publishing these entries has served as a timely reminder for me that no matter what we may think of ourselves or each other, or how those thoughts affect our emotions, there is always an alternative. We have a choice in every second of every day. Each step we take can be a conscious one, made in awareness. Thus empowered by the choices we make, we place ourselves in a better position to lead the life we prefer. The life we choose.