I used to be a victim of circumstance.
I used to believe that shit happened, and nothing was mine to control. There was a destiny, a fate that I could not escape, and the Universe would continue to mess with me at every step.
It was easy to blame my parents for my relationship failings. That, in turn, allowed me to pass accountability for my constant struggles with my weight onto some event or other. Depression? Yeah, that was why I couldn’t find a job that I was willing to stick with, why I was never settled, and why U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For was my theme song.
For years, I treated the symptoms but never attacked the underlying disease. When you got right down to it — the choices I made were responsible.
That can be a bitter pill to swallow. Often, it comes with self-recrimination, guilt, and other negative feelings. How could I be so ‘X’ and allow myself to go there? Turns out, that, too, is a choice.
It is all a choice. Everything you do, everything you have done. All of it comes down to what you did and did not — or — do and do not choose.
When I started to see this for what it is, I realized that I could change it. And it’s not hard to do. It’s simply a matter of choosing differently.
There is no quick fix
Okay, let me put this right out there. There is never a quick fix. Period. Even if something that presents itself as a quick fix works — the result will not be lasting.
A great many of those who take power in this world do so by offering a quick fix. They have the solution to make it all better. They will take you back to how it was before — in the rose-colored glasses of your memory.
Because you see, often how things were before are idealized in some way that is not how they truly are or were. Also — change is inevitable. You can only move forward and cannot undo nor redo the past.
This truth is important to remember because the choices you make may not produce immediate results. How long they take is impossible to quantify because depending on the what of the choice — as well as outside circumstances — it simply is what it is.
I, for one, lack patience. This has been my downfall on more than one occasion. I suspect more than once my self-sabotage was the result of this. I got impatient because I saw no results — and then, boom, it all crashed down because I am an excellent saboteur.
This is hard to accept. But quick fixes are not real repairs. To be fair, there are times where you need to apply duct tape to hold it together to get somewhere to make a lasting repair. But it’s important to recognize this — and not rely on the duct tape for too long before truly repairing the problem.
When you recognize and acknowledge this you gain more insight into the nature of choices.
You make more choices than you realize
When the alarm goes off in the morning, you make your first choices. Open your eyes, or not? Hit the snooze, turn off the alarm, or just ignore it? Get up, or roll back over? Pee first, or give the cat her treats?
Every single one of these is a choice. And that’s just within seconds of starting a given day. Stretch that out over the 16 or so hours you are awake and I’m sure you are making thousands of choices a day.
To be fair, a great many of these choices fall into habit and routine. You don’t give them much thought at all — you just perform. That’s not a bad thing, really, because a lot of these choices are simple and easy to make. Others just propel you through the day.
However, choices are cumulative. They pile atop one another and can form habits and beliefs. Habits and beliefs will drive you and all you do on any given day.
Many choices are part of habits, even though you may not recognize them as such. What, how, and when you eat are your dietary habits. When, how, and whether or not you do something physical are your exercise habits. When and how you work are your productivity habits. And so on.
Choices build into habits. And you are making thousands of choices a day. However, while many are by rote and don’t necessarily need a closer inspection — examining certain choices can help you make changes.
Make a choice — then stick to it
The whole cumulative effect aspect of choice is not so new to me. But at the same time, seeing it this way is.
Part of how I’ve come to this realization is by reading more. And that was a choice I made not so long ago.
For a while now, I have been saying I need to read more. I’ve read a lot of articles about how more reading sharpens the mind and improves other aspects of your day to day life. So, I tried for a while to read before bed at night.
That didn’t work for me. I found various distractions that stopped me from choosing to read. Or I got too tired and determined seeking my bed was better than reading.
About two months ago I made a new choice. When I get out of bed, I go to the couch in the living room, sit down, and start reading. At least one chapter of non-fiction and one chapter of fiction. I now look forward to my morning read — also, time for one of my cats to curl up on my lap while I read.
This habit has already paid off. Hence, my clearer understanding of the cumulative effect of choices.
This one has paid-off at a fast rate. Another choice of mine is taking a while, and I am having a harder time sticking to it.
I’ve battled with my weight all my life. Recently, I began the practice of intermittent fasting. Also, about two months or so ago. However — I am not losing weight. Even with some other diet changes, I seem to be at a plateau.
While I’m tempted to give this up — I realize I need to stick to it. It’s not harming me — and I’m not gaining weight. I must practice patience.
Your mindset/headspace/psyche is your choice
It’s easy to allow the outside influences of the world to dominate your headspace. Look at how uncertain and scary the world is right now. The big picture is riddled with uncertainty, fear, and a lot of ugliness. For real — when did people start thinking kindness, empathy, and compassion were bad?
It’s very easy to allow this to impact how you live. Because your subconscious is being constantly bombarded by it all — it will influence your mindset/headspace/psyche. Unless — you choose not to let it do so.
How? By practicing mindfulness. Ask yourself questions to make you aware — here and now — of what you are thinking, how you are feeling, what you are feeling, what you are doing, and your intentions. When you do that you choose.
You, ultimately, have control over what’s going on inside your head. That’s because there is nobody else in there. Even when you allow ideas and practices of others in — that was a choice you made.
Thus, you also choose if you seek the positive or the negative. Expect the best or the worst.
Be proactive or reactive.
The choices are constant and ongoing. But you and I are so very much more powerful than we tend to recognize. Everything you focus on, do, and think about is a choice you make. When you are not happy with how things are going — you can make a new choice.
It doesn’t always look to be the truth. But it is. You choose things every day. So, you can decide — if you are displeased with things — to make a new choice. But remember — quick fixes seldom last, and you need to be patient with yourself.
Which brings me to a final, very important point.
Everybody makes poor choices. That’s inevitable. It is human nature to screw it up and get it wrong from time to time.
This can be bad in many ways — but it can also be good. Poor choices show you things you may not otherwise see — and allow for growth and change.
Change is the single constant in the whole Universe. Anything and everything can be changed. But some things will take a whole lot of time.
When you get it wrong — and for all that you fucked up along the way — forgive yourself. You are perfectly imperfect like everyone else. We ALL get it wrong. Everyone does stupid shit, fucks it all up, and makes mistakes. We all make bad choices. Forgive yourself for those you have made — and then make new and better choices.
We tend to be our own harshest critics. Forgiveness is challenging in general — and far harder towards the self. But when you forgive yourself — you open yourself to learning, growing, evolving, and making a better choice next time.
Making a good choice isn’t hard
But it does require mindfulness of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and intent.
Knowing that you make thousands of choices every day, when you are looking to change your life or live better overall, you can choose and alter specific choices to change. When you work with the choices you make, forgive yourself past mistakes, and allow time for the new choices to have their full impact on you and your life. That ultimately empowers you.
When you feel empowered, your mindfulness increases, you become more aware overall, and that can spread to people around you. This can create a feedback loop of awareness and positivity.
You can build more positive feelings and discover further reasons to feel positivity and gratitude. That can be the impetus to improve numerous aspects of your life for the better, help overcome the overwhelming negativity of the current situation, and generate yet more positivity and gratitude.
An attitude of gratitude is an attitude of immense positivity. That positivity can generate even more good energies — and that, like you, is always worthwhile.
Thank you for reading. I am MJ Blehart. I write about mindfulness, conscious reality creation, positivity, and similar life lessons.
Originally published at https://titaniumdon.com on November 2, 2020.