Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Choices




Humans seem to have a particular fondness for trying to understand ourselves.  We love to display our choices, highlight our decision making skills and talk it over with a glass of wine with our best friend.  Whether it's fashion, friends, vacations spots, or careers-what we choose says something profound about us.  We are sure of it.  But how can we interpret or express the landscape of that deeper meaning?

 For all of human history it seems, we've been trying to explain to each other and to ourselves why we are the way we are.  We try to communicate through many methods and with many different perspectives.  Sometimes it's easy to see someone else's perspective and interpret the landscape of their values by observing their choices.  Sometimes though, it can be pretty complicated and require us to walk through a maze of situations and experiences to gaze through someone else's perspective.

Here are a few suggestions I've been given by people to explain their motivations, tendencies, or built-in knee jerk reactions :
Family Birth Order
Gender 
Race
Religious tradition (or lack of)
Luck (or lack of)
 Astrological sign
Birth place/country of origin
President at time of birth
Genetics
Socio/economic status
Availability of parental support throughout childhood
Traumatic Events (or lack of)


I am no expert on any of this (or anything really).  Probably all of these things do shape us in ways that are mysterious to our conscious minds. Maybe we're just so complicated that we can't find just one language around this topic.  Or maybe we're just so simple that all the descriptions help us from staring the simple reason in the face.



So...forget all of us and trying to understand the road map for humanity.  It's probably impossible to understand anyone else.  I'm trying to focus on myself lately.  Do I really know why I do what I do?
Not really.

So I've been noodling on that.

I KNOW that there are times I am processing perceptions on a level that feels almost cellular. Sometimes my reactions to certain stimuli are so visceral, I don't even realize I am having a reaction.  Often my response feels so ingrained, so fundamental-that I don't even recognize that there was a choice in that moment to act/feel/believe something different.



Here are some areas where I don't actively 'choose' my response-times where I just autopilot along:
Holding the door for strangers
Saying Thank You
Oversaying I'm Sorry
Blessing everyone after they Sneeze
Catching the Ball as it's thrown at my head
Kissing the child who snuggles into me
Responding to an 'I love you' with an 'I love you too'

Most of those seem pretty innocuous in the grand scheme of things.  That's probably because I like to think of myself in a positive way.  Kind.  Loving.  Optimistic.  Generally....I think of myself as the protagonist of the story of my life. 

Not consciously you know...because that would be pretty self-centered and narcissistic-right?  

But there are other times where I make choices and don't even allow myself to see the choice.  
  • When I let my eyes skim over the eyes of that person who just passed me instead of making contact (because they are different than me). 
  • When I tell myself that the woman across the room is judging me (because I'm actually judging her)
  • When I correct someone else's perception about an event (because my perception is more right than their perception)
  • When I give advice about how someone else could 'fix' their problem (because I'm implying that I don't have that same problem or need to adjust it myself)
  • When I talk about being broken 'then' (as if I'm somehow resolved or different now)

What if everything about me is a choice?

What if I could change who I am-to the fundamental core of my being-by choosing differently?




Questions I'm pondering:

How can I recognize the choices that I'm making when I'm not even aware that I'm choosing?
What do I need to understand about my heart, my soul...my fear....in order to let the choice become conscious instead of innate and reactionary?
What story about myself am I holding onto in order to successfully avoid being different?

It feels a lot like walking through waist deep water to try and rethink every single action that I make.

 And then trying to understand how those actions relate to my underlying beliefs about that scenario. And then asking what I know about myself that I didn't know before.  
And then thinking about how I want to be in the future...who I want to grow into.

Are you tired just thinking about it?  I'm tired in actuality.

I'm hoping that just like any other exercise program, this will get easier as I make it part of my practice.  A few years ago, I started lifting very heavy weights as part of my exercise routine.  I got some advice from someone along the way....When you first start lifting heavy weights, you will think....I don't want to lift that heavy-that weight seems impossible.  The advice I got was don't talk yourself out of the weight before you ever try to lift it.  Even if you can only lift it once the first time...try.  You'd be surprised what you can lift when you get out of your own way.

And miraculously, when you lift the craziest weight that you could possibly lift just once....the next time you try and come back to that same weight, it will feel easy.

I'm lifting heavy in my practice so that when I go about my normal life...it feels easy eventually.





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