Facing Our Difficulties With Conscious Choice

Posted by Harriet on

Here’s another big concept I’m picking up on from Julie Genovese’s wise words – the idea of Choice.

We can choose how to respond and to see our challenges.  One person can see his obstacles as his demise; another sees it as an opportunity.  It’s all in the viewing.  If those glasses are too dark and you can’t see clearly, change to a lighter pair. 

It’s obviously not as easy as that, but that’s the idea.  The work is in getting there.  First you have to want to; second you have to believe it’s in your power to.    

A lot of times we stay stuck in a negative place because we feel badly and we’re waiting to feel better so we can get moving.  As we know that could take a long time. 

We might consider acting the way we’d like to, if we felt better.  In other words, act before we feel.  Put the action before the feeling.  That can actually propel us toward that feeling. 

When my daughter, Nava, went through her medical crisis, I knew I was very susceptible to falling into a deep dark hole of despair.

 I had been there years before when I first found out about Nava’s disabilities.  It was a time of bitterness, resentment, jealousy and anger.  The ‘why me, why my child’ sat on my shoulders weighing me down with angst.  I couldn’t even bring myself to take her to the park. It was too painful for me to be with acquaintances and friends who I knew had had ‘normal’ babies at the same – to have in my face these  babies who were holding their heads up and reaching out for their toys, while mine sat back contentedly in her stroller looking around and smiling. 

At that time I didn’t appreciate her most wonderful disposition; I was only focused on what she couldn’t do.  My shift in perspective came later when I began to take in her goodness and See all that she Could Do.

All the while, I was getting help from a therapist and a parent support group, both of which were absolute life-savers.   

Eventually I made the decision to go to the park; to feel the pain and go anyway.  My baby needed to be in regular environments with ‘normal’ kids.  If I waited to feel better, she could’ve lost out on those early years of seeing and being with her regular toddler peers. 

So when crisis number two arrived – Nava’s medical condition- I made a conscious decision to not allow myself to go down to that dark place again. I was all too familiar with that one.   I could not afford to be sucked in to the muck and rehash the ‘why me, why my daughter’ mantra.  I knew the answer already – There was none.   (Not in this world anyway. I’m hoping in the next one, these questions of the human condition of suffering  will be answered.) 

When I felt myself starting to go down that path:

I put up a Stop sign in my mind and held onto that visual that said, ‘don’t go there.’ 

I did a lot of self-talk – “you know it’s an exercise in futility to start with those questions which breeds self-pity.  Don’t start with that ‘why me’ crap.  You need to stay strong and clear-minded.”

I did a lot of (extra) walking to keep myself energized.

I certainly was not going to allow my energy to be consumed by the unanswerables and by getting myself trapped inside my own despair again.      

That of course didn’t negate the feelings of pain and sadness.  Many days I came home from the hospital especially during those initial weeks of sheer terror and curled up in bed crying for hours until there was nothing left in me.  Then I got up and carried on.      

Choosing to respond a certain way doesn’t mean we don’t feel our feelings.  We must allow expression of them.  Rather it means we can try to manage what we do with them, how we handle them, how we give expression to them.   And eventually how we view our difficulties and what we do with them.   It is truly up to us.

How have you chosen to see something differently or to respond differently?  When have you acted a certain way before feeling it?

Thank you for reading.  Please share on facebook and twitter.  I love Comments.  It tells me I’m reaching people.  Thank you.  And of course if you haven’t already subscribed, please do.

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  • Alan

    Great Post, Harriet! I like how you describe what to do and how to act in order to overcome the negatives. I also enjoyed Julie’s interview. I fellt it was much different than the previous interviews. She had more to say, was more animated and brought an altogether different perspective to the questions. Kepp up the good work. I’m very proud of you.


  • http://www.davidstevenslifecoach.com.au personalpower4me

    Hi Harriet,
    You have described “choice” very nicely. We are always given/faced with ‘choice’. It’s a game breaker. You have handled your difficult choices very well, congrats.
    be good to yourself

    • http://rebuildyourlifecoach.wordpress.com rebuildyourlifecoach

      Hi David,
      Thanks for your encouraging words.
      Even when we don’t realize we have a choice, we have a choice. Not necessarily in what comes our way, but in how we respond. That’s the key.
      Choose ‘positivity’ (my made up word).

  • http://www.mylifearchitects.com Jimmy

    Hi Harriet,

    I am new to your site. Glad to have found you.

    One of the most powerful books that influenced me about the power of choice we have is Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”. That was where I leant about how people can choose to be fruitful despite a hellish place of a concentration camp.

    Since then my journey to choose in every circumstances have been a learning curve. Ups and downs, but generally I think I am getting better at choosing the right choices.

    One way I find very effective for me is to brainstorm for as many choices or solutions to a situation. I actually try and list down all the things that can be done for even very simple things like getting irritated by my work colleagues. In this example, I could walk away, stay and listen, give an excuse, grad some food, pretend to answer my handphone, get a drink, etc… You get the idea I hope. Once I start making the list mentally, my consciousness expands and I start thinking of the positive choices that could be made. It has worked wonders for me.

    Hope this contributes to the discussion.


    • http://rebuildyourlifecoach.wordpress.com rebuildyourlifecoach

      Hi Jimmy,
      Thank you so much for your great comment and so long, I love it.
      Man’s Search for Meaning is one of my all time favorite books. I refer back to it so often. I have my old underlined copy from way back and I reread so many lines from it. It is truly one of the best out there on this topic.
      It seems like you really have made conscious positive strategies for making choices.
      I like your line, “choose to be fruitful”.
      You have most definitely contributed much here.
      Thank you. I hope you’ll come back and visit, read and comment.

  • http://twitter.com/mylivingpower Laurie Wallin (@mylivingpower)

    This is true courage, my friend: “Eventually I made the decision to go to the park; to feel the pain and go anyway.” I’m so enjoying getting to know your spit-in-the-face-of-challenges heart for life! You bless deep with your insights here. So thankful for this reminder to choose. And for your time in stopping by my site too!

    • http://rebuildyourlifecoach.wordpress.com rebuildyourlifecoach

      Hi Laurie,
      Thank you for your encouraging words. I think we’re connected by a few commonalities.
      I love your blog posts.

  • http://counselorperspectives.wordpress.com Marci Payne

    Great story. So true, that managing feelings doesn’t mean eliminating them. It means not drowning in them.

    • http://rebuildyourlifecoach.wordpress.com rebuildyourlifecoach

      Hi Marci,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      You said it so well – it doesn’t mean we eliminate those painful feelings, but rather we manage them so they don’t overtake us. It’s too easy to end up stuck in that hole of despair.
      ‘See’ you soon.


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