There's Always Another Way: The Power of Choice



“There’s Always Another Way!” In the movie Finding Dory, Dory refuses to accept defeat. Her father taught her that there is always another way. It may seem impossible or silly but it is there.

There are so many things out of our control, situations at work, our hectic schedules, sickness, and relationships. We can sometimes feel trapped when we can’t control things, but Dory is right. There’s Always Another Way. If we start to look at the world as full of choices we can learn that we do have control, just not over the things we expect.

We can’t control other people or situations like a family member getting sick, or how our spouse thinks, but we can control ourselves. How we feel about situations isn’t just external. We are not only affected by situations, but by how we respond to it.

Here are ways you ALWAYS have a choice in your thoughts and actions.

THOUGHTS

We do have control over our thoughts…not all of our thoughts, but we can choose and create helpful ones whenever we want. Here are some ideas for how choosing your thoughts can make big change.

THINK GREY

Black and white thinking, also called all or nothing thinking, is often what makes us feel trapped or like we don’t have a choice. This is very apparent in the way we treat our health. Say you set a goal to start working out, and within a couple days you are working longer days at work and can’t work out as many times in the week as you had planned. You may feel defeated and think, “What’s the point? I’ll start over Monday”. This black and white thinking is destructive.

If instead we think grey and think small, then we allow for life to get busy, we may work out a little less, but we will still move forward and that will positively motivate us to work out more the next week. Forward motion is always better.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

A lot of times it may just take some imagination to get out of or improve your situation. If you can’t get what you want, think if there is a new way to choose. Again if you are trying to work out, but you have to take your kid to basketball practice after school everyday…bring your shoes and run around his school building. Or have a date this weekend? See if they want to go on a hike or do something active – biking or even something silly like roller skating. If you get creative you can hit your goals and have fun!

THINK MINDFUL

Remember at the end of the day we may not have control of the external, but we always can control something internal – mindfulness. Even if you can’t actually get a good work out in. Thinking positive thoughts and accept that life is busy.

This is so important. If you start thinking negative thoughts and get down on yourself for things out of your control, you may not only not work out, you may become destructive in other ways to cope, by eating or drinking too much, or not getting enough sleep.

Everything is connected and it starts in the mind. The kinder and better you can be to yourself internally the better and more positive your actions will be.

ACTIONS

We have choices regarding our actions. Let me be clear, there is not always a good choice, or a compete solution, but there is always a choice.

ACT KIND

When we choose to do something in a stressful situation our actions can make big difference. If you are running late and there is a line at check out at the grocery store, you can choose how you act. It is up to you if you are rude, and short and annoyed. The situation is frustrating and you may not have a choice when it comes to standing in a line or being late, but you do have a choice of how you act in that situation and what kind of energy you bring. If you smile and say thank you, you will be giving out good energy, that will come back to you. If you are rude, then you may start to feel guilt and bad about yourself, which will only make you more upset in a stressful situation. Being kind is ALWAYS a choice.

DON'T RE-ACT

A very important choice we always have is NOT to act. Sometimes this is the most difficult. When you are caught in a situation at work or at home where someone is doing something unkind, or you don’t like what is happening, but you don’t feel you have the right to say anything. Like your spouse is having a bad day. You have the choice to say something back to him or her, but that could escalate things. You also don’t need to placate them and let them walk over you. You can simply walk away.

I try to teach my son that unless he is defending himself, if someone is being rude he should just walk away. It is very hard as a child ,and as an adult, to not fight back or get involved in people’s toxic energy, however telling the teacher every time another 3-year-old does something he's not supposed to or says something not nice would just take forever. Instead I'm trying to teach him just to walk away until that friend decides to play nice.

The same is true for adults. If you've ever had an argument with someone where you just refuse to argue, you know it is very hard, but it really does work. Most of the time people don't keep arguing with themselves. This allows for time to cool down so that you can have a constructive conversation later if you choose to.

ACT HONEST

When in doubt the best action we can have is to be honest, with ourselves and others. When in doubt the best action you can take is to share your feelings. With anyone. If you feel trapped and frustrated that you are taking to much on, work, family, etc. You can find yourself lost and like there is no solution. The fact is there may not be much you can change about your schedule or work right away, but you can be honest. Tell a close coworker, a friend, or your spouse how you feel. Say, “I feel trapped”. The simple act of sharing will give relief and perhaps help. If you don’t share you will act out in other ways, like anger or self destruction. Sharing your feelings is always a choice.

A 51% CHOICE

I had to make a choice myself in the last few months. Since Christmas my family has been very busy. My kids were sick on and off for over a month straight, my husband is finishing his Master's and is getting very busy. I found I did not have my usual time to complete my work.

I had a choice to continue trying to take care of my family, write my blog, finish writing my book, and work on my health. I could have done this, but I knew I would not be moving forward. I didn't have the time and I would feel bad that nothing was really getting my full attention. So I had to choose.

I chose to take a break from the blog to finish my book. I struggled not to feel disappointed in myself, but I try to practice what I preach and I had to accept that I needed to give more than 51% to my tasks.

So I stopped the blog. In the last two months I have worked out more than I have been able to since my second child was born last year. I finished the second draft of my book, and I've been able to devote more time to my kids and I have enjoyed watching my son start swimming on his own since I enrolled him in swim class again.

Now that my husband is almost done with school and my book is close to being finished I can make new choices on where to devote my time. We always have a choice, but the most important thing is to make one.

Make it Small

-Kristin


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