Put some [em]power into your choices.

For those of you readers who know me and the areas of coaching I'm working on personally, you may find this post's title somewhat amusing. But, I'm not a coach because I have it all sorted out and I'm a Professional At LifeTM. I'm a coach because I believe in my ability to create the life I want and I'm willing to do the work to get it. I believe in that for you, too. fork in the roadThat's one facet of the beauty that is coaching: If you spot it, you got it.

In other words, I can see this easily in those around me, because I've become aware of it in myself. You know how when you buy a car, say a white VW Cabriolet (oh, how I miss my first car!) you suddenly start seeing that type of car everywhere? They were there all along, but you're just noticing it because it's become relevant to you.

It's true: I definitely struggle with this one. Not in the making of choices,  as I mentioned last week: I'm all over that one, but in the empowering of them, no matter what I choose. I have frequently been at effect to my choices, using my limited options (as I saw them, not as they truly were) as sticks and stones with which to beat myself up.

Super fun.

At least I know I'm not alone. I see this everywhere, comrades.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with any of the choices we make. There are no mistakes, after all.

However, we frequently think that we just have one choice: "I can do this thing or not," where the thing is the choice. Doing "the thing" seems like the option, whereas the "not" is just business as usual. The status quo. The opposite of the choice.

But see, the "not" is still a choice, too. And, it's fine, as long as it serves you in some way (and it must, or you wouldn't have chosen it).

This may seem a little bit circuitous, so I'll try to clarify. For example, let's say I've had a stressful day at work and I come home in a foul mood. Hey, bad days happen, right?

Now, I can choose to let go of that bad day/mood (there's that monkey fist again!) and choose something else. I could do something fun and  watch my gloom burn off like a morning fog in summertime, or I could go for a run to vent my frustration and release some tension.

Those are great choices, especially because being down in the dumps is, well, kind of a downer, in my books. For me personally, wallowing isn't in service of who I am and who I want to be, but oh! Am I ever good at it! So I can also choose to be sad/disappointed/frustrated/depressed about it. It may seem counterproductive, but if I say, "I'm going to be sad about this or angry about that for 20 minutes/an hour/an evening," I'm in charge. The choice of reaction and the power to change it are mine.

You don't have to choose happiness, but it is generally happier...

You don't always have to pick happy (though, it's happier). It's okay to say, "I'm going to be mad at so-and-so for an hour, because they stood me up, like they always do." But empowering that choice is important.

Owning the decision to be at effect means you are choosing how you react, instead of just being forced to react on autopilot, because then you feel badly for feeling badly in the first place. You are giving yourself permission to feel how you feel, instead of just feeling that way, plus feeling guilty or wrong for having that reaction to begin with. If you have permission, you don't need to beat yourself up for it.

Chances are, the more you give yourself permission to feel crappy, the more likely you are to be aware of what made you feel that way in the first place. Maybe the next time, you'll pick something else, something not in service of confirming that you are a victim, realizing that you can pick something else, other than feeling negatively impacted in relation to something external to you. Maybe the next time, you'll give yourself less time to wallow.

See, we think that we don't choose to be happy or upset or sad. We are those things when other things happen to us. At us. We are powerless over those things. And to be honest, that may or may not be true, to an extent. We can't always ensure things and circumstances turn out the way we want them to. But, and this is a big but, we can be aware of our reactions to them and choose something else and that is how we can create the life we want.

It's like understanding the difference between saying, "You made me sad," and saying, 'When you do X, I feel sad." In these comments, the power shifts, from an external locus of control, to an internal one. The latter is more empowering (and also a more realistic description of what has actually occurred).

Empowering our choices takes the right and wrong out of our reactions, and even out of some of our circumstances. It's all okay and it's all our choice how we react.

Does this ring any bells? Do you empower all of your choices, or just the ones you have as beneficial?