The Power of Choice
Choosing Your Orientation
My accountability partner and I were talking the other day about the mountains we’re trying to move in our lives and careers. It seems like we’ve been getting plenty chances to exercise the real power that we have in each situation that we’re facing on a daily basis… the power of choice.
She likes to say that she’s choosing her orientation. I like that. It reminds me of the glass of water metaphor – about how both observations that you can make about the water level are true: the glass is half full, AND it is half empty.
We have the power of choice in our perception about the glass of water, just like we have the power of choice in our perception about most things in life.
The glass and the water are what they are, and we project our judgement on them. So too are the challenging things that happen. They just are what they are, and we choose our orientation to them. We choose what we believe about them.
When I’m paying attention and realize I have the power of choice, it’s usually when I’m asking myself, “What would I choose to believe about this situation? And is it helpful?”
You might want to call it “looking for silver linings,” and maybe that’s what it is. You might even accuse me of being optimistic, and you would probably be right. I do tend toward a high level of optimism in my point of view, though more often than not, I’m actually being cautiously optimistic.
But looking for silver linings and being optimistic isn’t what exercising the power of choice is really about. Looking for silver linings is actually a result of exercising the power of choice. That’s because you can use the power of choice to wire or rewire your brain and become someone who looks for silver linings if you want to.
The power of choice is really about mind mastery. It’s about raising awareness. What are you consciously choosing as your orientation? Do you like what you’re choosing? Is it helpful?
When Stinky Stuff Happens
Here’s an example of what I mean…
Let’s say I get fired from my job. And by the way, I have gotten fired from a job before, so I’m relating to this example personally!
Anyway, let’s say I get fired, and I think it stinks. I’m not happy about it AT ALL. And it doesn’t matter if I’m at fault or not. I’m going to feel stuff, and I think it stinks.
Maybe I’m angry. Maybe I’m shocked. I’m probably hurt. And all those feelings are valid. My perception is totally valid because when I’m fired, I’m thrust into a scary place of ambiguity. How will get money now? Maybe I’m living close to the margin like so many people are – in debt with hardly any or maybe no savings to speak of.
I might have had the worst job in the world. Let’s say I found it repulsive. And even though I might have been thinking that I can stick it out for a little longer, yikes, here I am out of work. Or let’s say I loved my job. Even worse, right? Either way, the choice seems to have been taken away from me. Someone else chose this for me. All I can choose is my orientation to the situation.
The fact is no one really likes getting fired. We want to leave the job on our own terms. And no matter how it goes down, now there’s fear, anger, hurt. Again, all valid feelings, and I have a right to this perception. It is the truth.
And, of course, the inner victim that lives inside my head doesn’t help matters. It can’t help itself – it needs to weigh in. It has to say stuff like, “See? The glass is half empty, you poor sot.”
Choosing What’s Helpful
Okay, fast forward. Let’s say some time has passed. The shock has worn off a little. I’ve done some stages of grief and all that. And no, I’m not being facetious. Job loss ranks up there in the list of the top five major stressors due to loss in life like divorce and the death of a loved one.
Alright, so time has passed. And though time can be a useful tool for shifting perspective, an even better tool than time is when you use the power of choice. When I remember that I have the power of choice and then actively choose my orientation to this event, I see how I can choose what is most helpful to believe.
For example, I can choose to believe that I’m a fool for having trusted the employer. Is that helpful?
Well, it might be helpful to the inner victim – you know, to keep it alive and all. It loves to see the glass as half empty, and it loves to play the blame game.
But try telling a potential employer about how you feel about your last employer’s betrayal of trust. See if that helps you get hired.
Anyway, what I’m saying is that choosing to believe and, therefore, to operate in the world as if I’m a fool for trusting an employer is NOT helpful.
On the other hand, I have a slew of other more helpful choices that I can make, don’t I?
- I can choose to believe that the employer has done me a favor. If I didn’t like the job, now I can use all my time, energy, and focus on finding a job I’ll like much better.
- Whether I loved the job or not, I can choose to believe that the employer who fired me just didn’t realize what a catch I am. So here’s my chance to find an employer who will appreciate and let me use the talent I have to offer. And I’ve learned something valuable – I can choose to do things differently next time.
- I can choose to believe that whatever doesn’t serve me falls away and that the old job doesn’t serve me anymore. It’s time for a job that will.
- Depending on my belief system, maybe I would choose to believe that the Universe had a hand in this. I could choose to believe that it’s time for me to give serious consideration to a new dream career I’ve been too stuck to pursue because of that old job. I can choose to believe it’s a sign.
I could go on and on with more possibilities, but I’m sure you get the point… I have a LOT of choices.
So what is most helpful for me to believe in order for me to get what I want in life?
And I have that power. No one else has it. Just me.
And, of course, so do you.
Angela Loeb is into self-development & personal empowerment, being awed by nature, writing, and being inspired by superhero stories.