“With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.” Wayne Dyer
I used to spend a lot of time every day fuming and stressing over all the things in my life that I thought I had to tolerate. You know the ‘things’ – having to drive for an hour every morning along a route I found incredibly stressful so I could work at a job I could barely tolerate. Then after putting in a long day doing things that sucked the joy and energy out of me, dealing with people who were incompetent, or irritating, or mean, I would drive back along that stressful route to a home where more stressful situations awaited. The kids, the husband, the dinner, the dishes, the tidying up, the grocery shopping, the bills, the lack of money, the home repairs that urgently needed to be done….
Does any of this sound familiar?
My parents had lived a life that was very similar to this, so I grew up believing that this way of living was normal. Never question, always accept what is happening regardless of how much you hate the situation you’re in, respect and obey authority, the husband was patriarch of the family and was always deferred to, and never, ever show your true feelings.
Based on my experiences growing up, I made assumptions about why I lived the way I did – that this was the way things were supposed to be and if I didn’t like it, then that was my problem. Subconsciously, I chose to think of my job as stressful, my partner as indifferent, and I needed to tolerate this. These choices influenced not just how I related to my job and my partner, but also influenced how I related to myself!!
I chose to think it was my responsibility to raise my kids without my partner’s support, to be responsible for making dinner and doing the dishes every day, even after working a full day at a job I chose to dislike. These choices left me feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
It never occurred to me that with everything I did, regardless of what I was doing, there were always a number of choices that I could make, some positive, some negative, some neutral.
“We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice.” Stephen Covey
It wasn’t until a recent serious illness and a diagnosis of having a chronic auto immune disease that I finally woke up and understood that I was living my life on auto-pilot. I finally realized that I had been subconsciously choosing to use assumptions based on past experiences and tolerations, to build my current and future life on. I realised that I had the ability to use intelligent and thoughtful choices, powerful manifesting techniques, and my intuition to guide my life.
I finally understood. Everything I had done, everything I had tolerated all these years had been the result of choices I had made that were based on incredibly bad assumptions that I had believed as truths.
When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, I did what a lot of people do – I joined several Facebook groups whose members were fellow Lupies. I was looking for someplace where I could ‘meet’ other Lupies and get to know what life with Lupus was like.
What I very quickly learned was the extent to which these women (90% of all people with Lupus are women) are willing to tolerate what happens to them rather than choose to make a difference in their own lives.
Every day I read about women becoming depressed or ending up in tears because of something negative that someone said to them, or because spouses and children didn’t treat them with respect, or because doctors treated them like children and refused to listen to or believe anything they had to say. These women were choosing to be not only the victims of this illness, but also the victims of family, friends, co-workers, doctors, strangers, everyone who did not treat them the way they felt they need to be treated. They gave away their power to others, people who couldn’t understand what they were going through.
If these fellow Lupies were tolerating these incidences in their lives, I can only imagine what the average woman tolerates in their life under the assumption that they have no choice.
Then there were the stories of the survivors. The women who chose to live with Lupus, recognising that even though Lupus was an integral part of their life they could still live their life as they chose to, partnering with Lupus instead of letting Lupus dominate them. These women chose to accept the pain, the fatigue, the brain fog and all the other daily symptoms of this illness and live their life to the fullest.
Both the victims and the survivors are my role models. Both clearly show me the impacts my conscious choices can have on my life.
When we live our lives from a place of subconscious assumptions we often end up living from a place of lack – lack of respect for ourselves, lack of self-confidence, lack of self-esteem, lack of trust in ourselves, lack of self-love. We are choosing to ignore our personal sovereignty, our need to be responsible for our own well-being, and our right to live our best good life.
Obviously, there are certainly circumstances in our lives we cannot choose to change, at least not easily. We have children, we can’t easily choose not to have them. We have a job, we can’t easily choose not to have one. We have parents, we can’t choose not to have any. We have a chronic illness, we can’t choose not to have it.
However, the more I learn about the power of choice, through what I have been reading and what I have been experiencing, and the more I learn about chronic autoimmune illnesses like Lupus, the more I realise the powerful magic that choice offers.
And although we cannot easily choose to live without many of the circumstances or activities that populate our lives, we can definitely choose what our attitude towards them is going to be.
We can show ourselves respect and self-love by setting boundaries and enforcing them so we no longer feel overwhelmed or taken advantage of.
We can shift our mindset or our identity and see ourselves as valuable and worthy instead of worthless or a victim.
We can choose to use words that describe ourselves and our circumstances in ways that are supportive and positive rather than destructive and negative.
We can change our thoughts and beliefs so they are supportive of the life we desire to live.
Choice is an incredibly powerful tool that we can use anywhere, anytime to drop the tolerations and assumptions that overwhelm us and make our life difficult. At any moment of our choosing, we can begin to consciously make simple choices that start us on the path to a better life.
As Wayne Dyer said “You get to choose.”