We all make choices, every day. Whether to hit the snooze button one more time (guilty!), which direction to drive to work to avoid traffic, how we respond to a testy spouse or co-worker. Some are easier to see as choices, while some of our actions or reactions feel as though they are beyond our control. How can we help but get angry when someone takes credit for our idea at work, or the bozo in the giant pickup misses our bumper by a mere 3″?
Imagine yourself getting to work, having already been frustrated with your spouse, annoyed at your kids, angry at the other drivers on the road, and dreading the meetings you have that day. What if you heard yourself grumbling and snapping for most of the 2 hours you’d been conscious that morning? What if you saw your face in the reflection of the elevator, and your brow was creased, your mouth was frowning, and your eyes were hard… at only 8:00am? Perhaps this does sound like a day you’ve had, or even most days. Have you ever wondered why these days reoccur?
Maybe this picture doesn’t fit you. But is there something else in your life that keeps coming back, doesn’t change, feels like an obstacle to your happiness? An argument you feel like you’ve had with someone a hundred times? Something that “pushes your buttons” and gets an out-of-proportion response from you?
We’ve all heard the phrase “if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just do something else. But it can be harder than it looks, require honesty from ourselves about how we contribute to the situation, and willingness to let go of some of our own filters in how we see the world.
The really hard decision is to own our choices, no matter how inevitable they feel at the time. Owning them, and taking responsibility for them. Realizing that there always is a choice in how we react, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. Being honest enough to realize we have a hand in our reactions and choices, and brave enough to try something new and different. And finally, being curious about what different outcome might emerge.