The power of looking up and making conscious decisions
Choice is a funny thing. Not funny, “ha-ha,” but let me explain. When life is good; when things are going our way and we’re feeling optimistic about where we are and where we’re headed, we feel that we have a choice about what we do next. Anything seems possible. On the flip side, when it feels like the world is continually piling problems on top of us; when life feels heavy, we feel that things are out of our control and that we have no choice in what happens next. So we get swept down an invisible current, constantly having to react to what life throws at us.
We all ebb and flow through both of these scenarios, like an infinity loop, throughout our lives. The circumstances might be different, but we’re the same people in both. And the truth is, we have choice in both; whether it’s a choice in how we act, or in how we think.
In fact, maintaining the belief that we have choice and the power to make intentional decisions is necessary to finding contentment, especially in tough times. I won’t lie. It takes courage and effort. And when life feels heavy, those things are often difficult to muster up.
I know what you’re going to say, “Even when I know I need to make a different choice, I sometimes feel paralyzed by not knowing what the outcome will be.”
I wish I could tell you that if you do the work to mitigate the risks of making a choice – a shift in direction, or letting go of something and grabbing onto something else – you’ll have a clear line of sight to the outcome. The fact is that no decision has certainty. And it’s human nature to feel scared about the unknown.
But I offer you this mindset: Life is made richer by experiences that scare us a little. And fear isn’t to be avoided, it’s to be experienced.
Feeling scared or anxious about something means that it matters to you; it means you care about the impacts and the outcomes of it. The key to living with fear is to not allow it to make your decisions for you. When you accept that feeling uncomfortable with a decision is not a threat to your survival, but a challenge to be faced and, in some cases, an opportunity to be seized, life gets a lot more interesting and you get a lot more confident.
So, if you have a spark of curiosity about how your life can be different and richer, or if you’re feeling that life is heavy right now, allow yourself to imagine a different reality. Even if it feels silly, sit back in your chair, or wherever you are right now, close your eyes (if you’re standing, hold onto something!), and visualize what life could be.
To take it to the next level, use your voice to share it with someone. It doesn’t have to be a close confidant – that might feel too risky right now. Someone you just met can be a perfect audience because they don’t know who you have been or what you have done to this moment. Share what you see as a different future for yourself. Regardless of the person’s reaction, feel what it feels like to say the words. Then find another person to share it with, and then another. You’ll be amazed by the impact of saying aloud what you’re imagining for yourself. You never know, you might find a cheerleader, a connector, a supporter in those you tell.
You owe it to yourself to resist being swept through life on a current. Life will go on whether you make conscious decisions or not. It’s up to you to pay attention – look up and around every once in a while to be sure you are heading somewhere you want to go. If you’re not, make a different decision. You have the power of choice.
Oh, and be ready to feel a little scared – it’s a good thing.