Monday, December 13, 2010

I Always Have a Choice

I am taking Dr. Lisa Chu's course, "12 Days of Holiday Sanity: How To Stay Sane In The Midst Of Holiday Craziness" not because I am crazed by the holidays, but because Lisa teaches me something new each day that I will use all year long.  Today, the first day of the course, is a good example.  I have a friend who would say periodically to me, "You don't really have a choice".  I hate that phrase because you may not be able to do the particular action you wanted to do, but you have a choice in how you react and that makes all the difference in feeling, as Lisa says, "empowered".  I actually hate it when somebody tells me I can't do something, but that's a whole other post.
I have included a snipet from today’s lesson with Lisa.  Missing is the video and the worksheet that comes with it (I don’t want to give away everything).  If you are interested in signing up for her course, go to:


There are two different energies to this affirmation, "I always have a choice."
1. Energy of Empowerment. There is power in taking responsibility for YOUR choices, and only your choices. There is relief in knowing that you ONLY have responsibility for your choices, not the ones made by other people, no matter how much they love you or how much authority they have in your mind. Connect with your own power to choose.
2. Energy of Gentleness and Kindness. There is also a softness in the recognition that no matter what situation you find yourself in, no matter how far you have gone down one path, no matter what choices you have made in the past, you have the opportunity to make another choice. As long as you are alive and breathing, every new breath gives you a fresh opportunity to forgive yourself and choose again. Connect with your own gentleness and kindness toward yourself, and make another choice.
Throughout this course, you will be exploring various aspects of CHOICE. You will be creating opportunities to make new choices, and also observing the unconscious choices you're already making. All of it is designed to help you honor yourself more deeply through the choices you can always make, in each moment.
And activity!
Here's an activity to help you with a common source of overwhelm, not only at the holidays but throughout the year: our "To Do" lists.
Download the worksheet (upper right corner of this page) and follow along. You should probably set aside 15 to 30 minutes for this exercise, again choosing a quiet space where you won't be interrupted.
  • Choose a timeframe for your "Have To Do" list (today, this week, this holiday season, or whenever). It doesn't matter what timeframe you choose! Anything will work.
  • First, write down all the activities you think you have to do. Just let all your ideas come out, without editing or thinking too much about them.
  • Now, take a few deep breaths and return to each item on the list, starting with the ones you feel most reluctant about, or are maybe even dreading.
  • Ask yourself, "Is it true?" Do you really "have to" do this? Write down the "Yes" or "No" answer that comes to mind first.
  • Then ask, "Why?" What are you believing that makes you think you "have to" do this? I've provided an example in the worksheet to help you see what I mean by this. Write down all the thoughts that come to mind, without editing.
  • Next, take a breath, close your eyes and imagine yourself in vivid detail, actually doing the task as you described it. Picture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures associated with the task. How does it feel in your body? Write this down.
  • When you have completed these steps for each of the activities on your list, move on the final column of the worksheet: CHOICE.
  • Martha Beck has a clever way to remember the choices you can make on a typical "To Do" list: the 3 B's.
    • Bag It - Eliminate the task from your list. You may find, after completing this exercise, that your "Have To Do" list is actually much shorter than you originally thought. What a relief! You don't have to do everything you think! Give yourself the tremendous gift of choosing NOT to do some things.
    • Better It - For those items that you really have to do, you can make choices that will improve your experience of the task. HOW to better it is up to you. A good place to start is to think of a treat you can give yourself as a reward for completing the task, or to do the activity with a person who brings you positive energy, or even to change the location to someplace that makes you feel peaceful and joyful. You'd be surprised at how even a small, seemingly simple positive change can completely transform your experience of a mundane task. I've given you an example in the worksheet, but here's where your creativity can really serve you!
    • Barter It - Sometimes a task needs to get done, but you don't necessarily have to be the one who does it. Consider hiring someone to do it. Or trading with a friend who enjoys the task more than you do, and could use your help in another area where your strengths and joys are utilized.
Take a look at your list of choices! Acknowledge yourself for creating each and every one of these new choices.
Not only have you created a new way to experience your list of "have to do" activities, you have exercised an important muscle that you can continue to practice and use to create joy and peace throughout the new year: CHOICE.