9:06am Wednesday 13th January 2010
By Helen Noble
How do you see your choices in life?
Are they limited by the nature of a situation or the actions or needs of others? Maybe you are able to negotiate or even create your own choices. Here’s the nub…in any situation, you always have a choice; even a decision to do nothing is in fact the exercising of a choice.
And what’s more, the awareness of choices can only serve to empower us. When faced with a difficult situation we can choose how to view the scenario and thus how to respond emotionally to it, or feel about it. How we view things though our automatic filter will inevitably determine the way we feel and how we eventually –or instantly – act in a given situation. For example if we feel that we have been treated unfairly or unjustly we are highly likely to feel something which we could log along the continuum of anger, rated from ‘mild irritation’ to ‘extreme rage’. What determines our response is how we think about the situation.
However, the point here is that we can choose what to think or how to view a situation, by ‘reframing’ it or altering our perspective in relation to it. We know that our perspective changes as time passes and we accrue more experiences – just ask any parent of a teenager and I’m sure they will be able to recall at least one time when they were faced with a conflict or comparison of ‘what they knew then’, in relation to their own teenage behaviour; and ‘what they know now’, perhaps some 30 years later! When a difficult situation leaves you feeling like you have no responsibility for it arising and so powerless to change it, it’s useful to use the tool I’ll call ‘spyglass’. Picture yourself holding a large magnifying glass and casting it over the scenes you have played in the run up to the ‘big scene’ (argument, etc) as if captured on a still reel of film. Look really closely at how you behaved; what you said; how you said it; maybe what you didn’t say but your body language conveyed – for example your facial expressions and gestures.
Then reassess the part you actually played in the creation of the situation! Next, stand or sit yourself (whatever is most appropriate) in the position as occupied by the other party at the time of the argument. Ask yourself how it might have looked from there and openly consider how they may have felt at that time. The key here is to drop out of your contemplation all your preconceptions and judgements and be as open and neutral as you can. We will undoubtedly ‘find’ ourselves in situations where we initially think we have limited or no choices; however we can always choose our response to the situation.
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