When it comes to getting through divorce or other significant life transition our ability to choose is our greatest asset. It may seem like we’ve been handed one lone outcome. It may seem as though we have no choices, but with a little exploration we can discover the fork in the road which is our choice point. There is always a choice point. We get to choose:
- our interpretation of what is happening to us
- the way we will relate to those whom we perceive are responsible for our unhappiness (even God)
- the way we will relate to ourselves for the mistakes we’ve made
- to let ourselves off the hook for what we do and do not know or have and have not done
- the intentions we will set for moving forward
The power of choice will free you exponentially, more than any single thing that is available to you. I once heard of a prisoner of war held for years in a small enclosure of something like 3′ x 10′. He made the decision that his captors would not control every aspect of his life; he would. In making that choice he refused to pace the full length of his cell but instead stopped short of the end each time. He determined the size of his cell, not his captors. That simple choice empowered him to stay alive during those years.
Closer to home, we notice that sometimes it just feels good to be mad and to choose not to forgive or let go. But be assured that staying angry is a choice. It may be that with a little more information or insight you can turn a corner and choose to let it all go. Two things happen when we abdicate our right to choose: life chooses for us (life by default), or someone else chooses for us (leaving us with no say in the outcome). Oh my gosh. Don’t let that happen to you. It is the moment-by-moment process of choosing well that adds up to a designed life.
Below is an exercise from the first Design Your Life newsletter many years ago. I revisited it today and liked it so much I thought I’d bring it back for a second appearance. It is written from the perspective of choosing how you want to face each day in general, but you can adapt it for other things, too, like how you want to be:
- with your kids today
- at the business meeting this afternoon
- on your next date
- when you meet with your lawyer, Ex, mother/father, boss, or other difficult person
- when you met your friends after work
- when you go to the gym, improve your diet, stop smoking or change other important habits
The good news is that you can set an intention for each day, which subsequently creates an intentional life, before you ever get out of bed in the morning. Here is a fun and interesting exercise: On separate pieces of paper write a different mood or way of being that you might want to explore. I’ve listed a few ideas for you but it will be more meaningful to you if you choose your own.
Creative * Frightened * Happy * Thoughtful * Content * Playful * Confused * Attentive * Determined * Soft * Gruff * Somber * Thankful * Stubborn * Curious * Anxious * Hopeful * Naive * Engaged * Angry * Sensual * Open * In Integrity * Connected * Forgiving * Dedicated * Stoic * Relaxed
Before you bed down for the night, take the moods you’d like to explore and spread them out on the floor next to your bed. In the morning, before you place your feet to the floor, sit on the edge of your bed and make a deliberate choice of the mood or way of being you want to step into for that day. If you tend to be negative in daily life try choosing emotions on the more positive side. If you are naturally bubbly and downplay the deeper emotions, you might want to try those out. Try on your chosen way of being/feeling just as you would a pair of slippers or your jeans. Wear it for the day. You may want to put on a special scarf, or shirt, or carry a unique token in your pocket to remind you throughout the day. Notice how things are different because of the conscious choice you made when you started your day. How was your business meeting, or chauffeuring your kids different because you chose to be attentive, playful, or curious?
Do you have a tendency to be gruff, or rushed, or anxious, and relate that way toward the important people in your life? How might that change if you chose to approach them instead with gratitude or softness?
When you try these out be sure to come back and tell me what you learned in the comment space below. I’d love to hear!
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite sayings…
If you don’t change the direction you’re going, you’re likely to end up where you’re headed!