Choosing – 1
Wherein Lies the Power of Being
Most of my life I lived in a “vanilla only” world, going through life day by day, trying to make some sense of life as it all come streaming toward me, with the usual conversations (voices) going on in my head. This conversation that I’m referring to wasn’t even a conversation as far as I was concerned. It wasn’t even a “voice”. It was just what I would refer to as My Life and how I saw it.
In my “vanilla only” perception there was no distress about chocolate or strawberry being missing. There was vanilla. No questioning, no upset, no sense of being deprived. Vanilla was everything. And it was nothing. It was transparent.
There was no noticing that there were voices (a conversation) going on in my head. It just was. That is until one day in 1983 when a seminar leader told us about chocolate and strawberry. He revealed to me that there was a broadcast channel going on in my head ALL of the time and not only did I not know it, but there was no way to turn it off.
He challenged us, “Ok, if you think you can stop your mind from chattering, go on, stop it,” and of course none of us could stop it. It does broadcast all of the time and it always would. What I learned was that there were other channels available.
And in that moment chocolate and strawberry, which weren’t even on the radar, showed up as missing. They had been distinguished as a possibility that I never dreamed existed. And then I had a choice. And with that ability to have a choice, and to be able to generate other choices, an extraordinary freedom arrived. A whole new me was available. A new world showed up and I could step into it if I chose.
Suddenly my life that had been inevitable was now revealed to be a life of unlimited possibilities, all of which would be would be determined by me. If I chose to.
The Voices within were no longer “my life”, they were voices coming from my past, my fears, my joys, my culture, my parents, my peers. They were coming from every place but from Me. My True Self.
What about a Voice that came from my aspirations, my chosen ideals, my vision? A Voice that could remind me that the voices that come came up automatically in reaction to things that happened to me were not The Truth, were not necessarily “the way it is”. A voice that could question, reorient, get me back on an empowered path.
The Cherokee legend of the Two Wolves.
An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, "Let me tell you a story.
“I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
“But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
“But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."
* * * * * * * * *
This marvelous story became an excellent tool for me to remind me over and over again that I ALWAYS have choice, and when I remember that my choice is the one that I feed, it brings “choice” out of the intellectual realm and down to a visceral, physical thing. I am feeding an inner voice, either by choosing to or by omission, not even noticing the wolf, but being consumed by it anyway.
Feeding the wolf reminds me of the extraordinary power I have to determine my own life. Chocolate or vanilla. Fear or forgiveness. Love or hate. To hold it in or let it go.
When Choosing showed up in my life it was like landing in The New World. I landed on the shores of My World and have been having a marvelous time these 30 plus years discovering its treasures.
Viktor Frankl quotes
Viktor Frankl, MD, PhD (1905–1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. His best-selling book “Man's Search for Meaning” published in 1946 chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus a reason to continue living. Frankl became one of the key figures in existential therapy and a prominent source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists.
Some of my favorite quotes of his wisdom:
• “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”
• “A human being is a deciding being.”
• “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
• “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Yes, in our response lies our growth and our freedom. Growing into our own true self and the freedom that that grants us. Thank you Mr. Frankl.
I suspect this would include me as well. Sigh......
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