It's been a while since I have dropped you all a line, but I have thought of it on numerous occasions (about every time I have a new realization). This is just a sampling of what I have been realizing lately that I felt compelled to share.
I've been paying attention to my own thoughts a lot more lately (i.e. practicing mindfulness) and learning a great deal about myself in the process. A great deal of what I do is based on habit or trained response. It's like the brain is a computer programed with a series of "if" "then" statements (if I do this, then I will bring about this result or avoid something else). This is basically the role of the ego.
The ego is a survival mechanism that helps us avoid injury as we develop. We innately try to avoid unpleasant things and instead bring about a pleasurable outcome. However, as we grow so does the ego's role in running our lives, which can become very detrimental to our development and prevent us from finding true happiness. Many of the books I have read recently talk in great detail about the ego but I won't delve too deeply here. Just to give you one example, when I was a kid I started smoking because I thought it was cool (despite my denial at the time). In fact, I could probably write a book of examples from my life alone on things my ego lead me to do that weren't in my best interest.
Now that I have become more aware, I have noticed that I have a tendency to always be doing something and allow certain things in my environment to run my life. This may be out of fear or a way to distract myself from dealing with something I'm not ready to deal with, but that's a discussion for another time. The bottom line here is that years of unconscious living has caused me lose sight of the fact that I have the ability to choose what I do and how I respond to my external circumstances, regardless of what my ego has to say about it.
In fact, the power of choice was expressed quite nicely in a recent article I ran across in the WNC Woman I picked up. I decided to type it up so I could share it with those of you who didn't have the opportunity to read it. Take a look at it and feel free to share any thoughts or comments you have on the subject (either via blog or email).
PS - Thanksgiving is coming up and it's a great time to practice gratitude for all that you have. Gratitude is a wonderful thing so make sure you take time out to think about all of the things you have to be grateful for and feel free to share. Personally, I'm grateful for every single thing I've ever experienced as well as every person I have had the pleasure to communicate with, because it has all had the cumulative effect of making me the person I am today.
Women and Power: The Power of Choice
(from WNC Woman - November 06, p 25)
Throughout our lives as women, we are constantly called upon to make choices. For some, choices are an unwelcome burden, causing life to feel challenging at every turn. For others who make the same choices time after time, the idea of choosing may seem nonexistent. People who say that they have no choice have fallen into a state of unconscious habitual living, unaware as to how their sense of helplessness is constantly impacting their lives. And then there are those women who hold a higher reality, believing that they wield great power through the choices they make in every moment of their lives.
It is through these moments of choosing that we define our future and set into action our destiny for either insignificance or greatness. At times we are called to make choices that challenge our very foundation; “Do we stay or do we go? Do we pick safety or do we take the risk? Do we do what is expected or do we follow that inner voice that so often knows?” Then there are times when we make what may appear to be smaller choices; the way we treat ourselves, our attitudes and responses, even our first thought when seeing our reflection in the morning.
Whether large or small, our choices mold our future by directing the flow of energy and resources in our lives. We can all look back and see how some of our choices have caused us to completely change direction. We can also see how the choices we are making in this moment will affect us in the days, months and years to come. Even when we thing we are not choosing, we are making a choice. A choice to do nothing has the potential to set in motion events that can impact us for the rest of our lives.
As we grow in self-awareness, we more deeply understand that the conditions and circumstances of our lives are our creation. It is up to us to make choices that support us in having the lives we want and deserve. We also realize that no one else can make those choices for us; our choices are only ours to make. So the choice is literally up to each one of us. Do we hide our heads in the sand and delude ourselves by saying, “This really doesn't matter?” Or do we consciously focus on what we want, clearly choosing that which serves our highest and best and supports the future we so desire?
By consciously and wisely using the power of choice, we stand in our now moment aware of who we are, with head held high, clear in what we are doing and where we are going, knowing that through the choices we make today, a bright future is guaranteed.
By Barbara Waterehouse (Co-Minister of the Center for Creative Living - cfcl.org)