Choices

In my most recent blog, I mentioned that this one would follow up on the thoughts I presented; specifically, I’d offer some insight on how we apply our choice-freedom in our daily lives.

To get your mind in the same general space mine’s operating in, I’ll highlight for you what I think are the most important factors in the last blog:

  1. Choices abound; there are always choices
  2. Often, we don’t like the choices presented to us
  3. Saying “You gave me no choice” or “I had no choice” is a fallacy and, further, an abdication of responsibility for our own lives

If you want to see more about my thoughts on those topics, please feel free to refer back to the previous post.

Going forward! I want to begin by pointing out the picture above; we’ve probably all seen it, or variations on it. If you don’t know who Zig Ziglar is, then click here for more information. Who knows, he may be something you need in your life right now! The point is that what’s written in this picture is the very essence of decision-making. Decisions can be driven by fear; we can give the fear control, or we can control our actions despite the fear.

Before I dive in to this, I want to offer up two definitions.

Freedom (Merriam-Webster)
  1. the quality or state of being free: such as
    the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
    : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence
    the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous — 
    freedom from care
    unrestricted use — gave him the freedom of their home
    : ease; familiarity —  spoke the language with freedom
    the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken — answered with freedom
    improper familiarity
    boldness of conception or execution

Responsibility (Merriam-Webster)

  1. the quality or state of being responsible: such as
    a : moral, legal, or mental accountability
    b : reliability; trustworthiness
  2. something for which one is responsible : burden — has neglected his responsibilities

For today’s discussion, only definition 1 under Freedom pertains, with descriptions a and b being our focus; however, both definitions 1 and 2 pertain under Responsibility.

Now, on to the fun stuff! The first thing I wish to point out is what I touched on lightly in our previous discussion — when you begin to understand that you do, in fact, have choices or options, your horizons; your world; your entire life opens up, and you realize how much you’ve been limiting yourself. Under Freedom, if we look at the first two descriptions of “the quality or state of being free,” then you’ll start to see what I’m talking about.

Once you realize you have the power to make your own choices, you are removed from having to comply with an outside entity’s necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. You further become liberated from slavery or restraint or from the power of another. How’s that, you ask? Simple, answer I! Let’s imagine another scenario or two!

Scenario 1 has us at work. Now, back up a second, because this is something most people don’t realize, and don’t think about. When you accept a job, or are accepted as an employee — cuz yeah, both happen at the same time! — a contract is entered into, largely verbal but portions are also written. In short, this contract between you and your employer ensures that 1) you receive fair wages for fair work and 2) your employer receives work done for wages paid. Vacation pay, all that other stuff — that’s just icing on the cake. The most important part of employment is realizing that these objectives are the underlying purpose to the employment agreement. I wanna be paid, so I’m agreeing to work for you; you want a task performed, so you’re agreeing to pay me to do it.

One day, you’re blithely going about your work/tasks/etc, doing your thing, when your boss walks in and demands something from you that’s outside your responsibilities. In short, you’re getting paid to do this, and your boss wants to add that to your workload, without increasing your pay. To really explain this, I need to spell out that I’m not saying an accountant is asked to help another accountant with their work; more along the lines of an accountant also being asked to perform in a supervisory role without gaining the title (pay, recognition of authority), or is also being asked to assume administrative roles without the position you’re currently working in being revised.

What are your choices here, and what will protect your freedom? Again, let’s list’em out:

  • Comply without question
  • Question the nature of what your boss wants done (information is never bad!)
  • Explain to your boss that you’re overwhelmed as it is, and ask for what you need to comply with their wishes
  • Refuse

Naturally the first thing that goes through our heads is the cold, hard reality that we really need this job, and we’re terrified of doing anything to jeopardize it. That must be recognized; we have to support ourselves. And/or we have to support and provide for our loved ones. It’s that whole Responsibility thing being tied up with choices … the option we choose to pursue will impact our, and possibly others’, lives. Losing or potentially jeopardizing our jobs, for most of us, automatically inspires fear of not complying; however, making a decision this important from a position of fear is, perhaps, not the most healthy way of operating.

Recognizing that fear is important (and I’ll discuss fear in another post, it’s on the list), because until you acknowledge your fear, you’re liable to react, rather than to act. Reaction would look something like this:

Boss: “Hey, Isende! You’re doing such an awesome job, I want you to take over doing X, also!”

Me: Blank look
Me: *stammering* “Oh, um, sure, if you think I can handle it …”

Boss: “Great! The first thing I need is blah blah blah …”

Have you made a choice here, or have you blindly followed along what appears to be the path of least resistance? Sit back and think about that for a moment, cuz it’s important!

Action, on the other hand, is taken after one has obtained as much information as possible and then chosen an option, and it might look something like this:

Boss: “Hey, Isende! You’re doing such an awesome job, I want you to take over doing X, also!”

Me: “What would that entail?”
Me: “How do you see me being able to do that, as well as what I already do?”
Me: “Which task has priority, in your opinion?”
Me: “Will I have a new title, more pay? This isn’t what I was hired to do, and it’s going to mean I have to juggle my responsibilities, just to make it happen.”

Regardless of how our boss answers, we now have the information we need in order to make a decision. Further, we’ve put our boss on notice — we’re not a pushover, and we’re not just gonna jump for the sake of jumping. Understand that with that first question, and any subsequent question, we’re letting our boss know we’re not just going to blindly accept these new tasks. That, already, will be affecting our boss’s view of our value as an employee. A stupid boss would get pissed. A good boss, who values their company as well as their employees, would respond positively. Period. Now, let’s ponder our list of choices again. How we view these outcomes has shifted, because we’ve filled in the blanks with information. Maybe the supervisory role is only for a day? Maybe the administrative responsibilities only mean that we’re being asked to copy more people on a report? In other words, maybe these new tasks won’t be onerous, and will enhance our value as an employee.

Again, I submit to you, we wouldn’t have known that without asking questions first. Further, blind compliance locks us on to paths that can be destructive. If we just said “Sure, whatcha need?” then we’ve established a pattern of blind compliance — obedience, in short, but obedience which can cost us. The supervisory role may be permanent, and we may be given an employee who makes us grind our teeth, pull our hair out, and go home screaming. The administrative tasks may include attending meetings that take time away from our ability to perform our agreed-upon tasks without having to work overtime (paid or unpaid, but usually unpaid!), or it may include responsibilities for which we don’t actually have authority — which is, trust me, its own headache. In short, our work life has just become less ideal, and more frustrating. This directly impacts our lives; socialization, satisfaction, self-worth. Aren’t these things worth your taking the time to ask questions, so that you can make a responsible, rational decision?

With careful, reasoned questions; adequate information; a clear direction of where we want our own path to go, we can make calm, reasoned decisions that will positively or negatively affect all other avenues of our lives. No longer must we do something because “It’s expected,” nor must we give over our own ordering of our lives to someone else. Seriously. You can be a good employee — an amazing employee! — and still choose what you will do in each situation.

Scenario 2 has us out with friends. Everyone’s hanging out, having a good time, when one of our friends pulls out a joint. Or K2. Or whatever floats your boat. Now, friendship has its own contract, its own expectations. To be succinct it could easily be said that I’ll respect you, you respect me, and we’ll do our best to support each other even if/when we disagree. So, we may well know our friend smokes weed. However, not only does said friend pull out a joint in a public place cuz, don’t forget, we’re hanging out; no, the friend takes it a step further and passes it around.

Choices?

  • Point out that we’re in public and maybe that can wait til later
  • Take a hit
  • Pass it on
  • Chew out our friend for being an idiot and insensitive lout
  • Leave

Notice, I don’t have questions on this list. I mean, this is a friend, right? Someone whom you know, and who knows you? Someone you like, respect; and who likes & respects you? So no, no need to ask questions, unless you just want to point out the friend’s idiocy by asking “What in bloody blazes do you think you’re doing? We’re out in public!

Again, however, each choice has a price/cost/consequence attached to it.

If we point out that we’re in public, we’re operating in a protective mode; protection first and foremost for ourselves, but also for our friends. This can be good or bad, depending on whether the friends you’re out with are really friends, or just acquaintances. Oh, did I forget to make that distinction? Well, it’s an important one, but we’ll talk about all that at another time, as well.

If we take a hit, have we complied in order to be cool, or to not make our friend uncomfortable?

If we pass it on, have we made ourselves complicit in getting busted if/when cops show up?

If we chew out our friend for being an idiot and insensitive lout, will we damage that friendship?

If we leave, will we damage our friendships with the entire group?

I want to take a moment to make another point. Any time we’re faced with a choice, we have to find for ourselves a path leading forward that will do two things: It’ll help bolster our sense of self-worth, and it’ll cause us the least amount of regret possible. Until our eyes are opened and we begin to see that we actually do have choices, options; that our lives truly are within our own ability to control and manage, we often find ourselves following the path of least resistance. Shit flows downhill, as the saying goes; every choice we make including inaction will impact us in some future time. Blind compliance or inaction now can, and often does, lead to future regret; how many regrets can we pile up before we’re lost under the mountainous weight of self-loathing?

Now let’s jump to responsibility. It may not seem like that’s an important topic, but it is, and possibly most important when we’re discussing choices. You see, making a knowledgeable choice also requires that we consider all the possible outcomes of our decisions. Whoa! That’s a lot of work! However, it’s the absolute truth, as well. If we lost our job because we couldn’t — or wouldn’t — comply with our boss’s demand, then we’d have to find another job at the least. If we blindly complied with the demand, we would open ourselves to more demands being made and making ourselves miserable. So on and so forth. So, yeah, it’s a lot of work, and sometimes it’s all-important that we ask “Can I have a little while to think about this?”

You see, just because someone else is making a demand of you does not mean you have to react to their urgency. In fact, I’d say that it violates your responsibility to yourself and to the people who depend on you to allow someone else’s urgency to infect you. Robert Carter, an author and very interesting person, coined the quote “Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” This quote has been a favorite of mine for decades, and it’s helped me when I’ve found myself in those situations that seem to require an immediate response. Taking the time, even just a second or two, to step back and engage our brains allows us to consider our choices and options from our own viewpoint, weighing the risks and benefits, and then to actively make a reasoned decision.

In my little pea-brain, our primary responsibility must be focused on ourselves. Why? That seems selfish, right? Well, more on that topic later too! But for now, I ask that you consider the following:

If you don’t consider your own benefit, then you’re also not considering the benefit of those whom you’re responsible for. For instance, when I accept my boss’s demand blindly, I’m not accepting that demand only on my behalf — I’m accepting it on the behalf of my husband, who’s going to have to listen to me gripe and whine about how unhappy I am with the new responsibilities. I’m also accepting it on behalf of my children — meaning I may leave them having to tiptoe around the house because “Mommy’s in a bad mood.” These are simplified examples, but they perfectly define the point I’m trying to make.

Further, we are the only ones who live inside our heads. Really, think about that. For the boss, his problem ends once he’s passed it on to someone else. He doesn’t have to stress while you stress about how you’re going to perform these additional tasks, keep your work up to par, and maintain your normally pleasant demeanor. His worries are over, but you’ve blindly accepted a commitment that is going to make you miserable. No, we are the only ones who have to live inside our heads, shoulder the day-to-day responsibilities that can make life meaningful or miserable, and accept the outcome of a poor decision. In other words, when we make poor decisions we — and those near and dear to us — have to live with the consequences.

How can we possibly disregard the importance of responsibility when we’re faced with choices?

Also, there’s the fact that constant failure because we’ve acquiesced to someone else’s decisions will weigh us down, drag us into the mud, and seldom, if ever, let us raise our heads up. Back to the boss example: I’ve blindly complied, and now I have a ton of work that I can’t do to my best ability. In addition, my normal tasks are falling by the wayside because I can’t do everything at once, and eventually my poor job performance as well as my job dissatisfaction cause me to be fired. Now, by this time, I’m probably grateful to be fired as I’ve come to absolutely despise that job! However, now I have to go find another job, and in the meantime the stress in my household, among my friends, and in my mind are going to cause my head to explode.

That could get really ugly.

In my pea-brain there is no way that freedom can be disconnected from responsibility. Further, if we don’t accept our own ability to make and live with decisions, then we’re abdicating responsibility for our own lives. Our own happiness. We’re putting that responsibility in someone else’s hands; someone who is constitutionally incapable of living inside our heads, and understanding our needs.

In short, it ain’t gonna work.

Wrapping this up, I’d like to make a final point. Life happens while you’re busy making plans. Ask any gamer about “wife agro” or “kitty agro” and you’ll see what I’m talking about; we’re immersed in our happy little fantasy world, working with friends to slay that final boss … and the cat jumps in our laps, onto our keyboard, or the dog lands in our laps, pushing the controller onto the floor …

In short, yes. There will be circumstances that absolutely demand an immediate reaction. I do not negate that. But when you’ve developed the habit of thinking through your options and you’ve come to terms with the demands you place on yourself for your own happiness, your decision will most likely be along the lines of what you can live with rather than opposed to what you can live with. Life is what it is, and it’ll throw curve-balls our way without notice. We have no control, for instance, over our car being hit from behind. We do have absolute control over our actions, though. When our cat jumps in our laps during that huge boss fight, we can throw the cat into the wall, or we can gently disengage the cat, restore ownership of our keyboard, then tell our friends “Sorry, man, kitty agro!” Yeah, the entire group has wiped, and your friends are definitely less-than-happy; but the kitty’s been removed, and is not too pissed, and you can after all refight the fight, right?

I wish you the best as you begin muddling your way through making your own choices, and I’m going to leave you with a video I hope you’ve seen before; if you haven’t? You’re welcome. This video portrays the subject of “Regret,” and each of the people who wrote on this chalkboard made a decision somewhere along the road that they’ve regretted. I found the nature of the predominance of these regrets to be fascinating.

What’s Your Biggest Regret?

Every day is, in fact, a clean slate. Hell, every moment, every decision, every single choice is a clean slate. Each that we can make from a position of consideration is an investment in a better next moment, or better tomorrow.

Peace out, friends.

 

 

 

 

Choices

Just oh-so-briefly glancing around the interwebs, I saw that “Choices” is becoming a pretty common theme. I’m actually gratified by this, as so many folk seem to be living with the thought that they have no choice.

Even when the only choices you have are bad ones, you still have choices. And to imagine feeling there is none? Well. I, personally, would find that very frightening.

To begin and kinda explain where my little pea-brain is coming from on this one, let me relate to you a tale of two sisters. Hey, good line that one, eh?

The first sister was my biological sister, eight years my junior. Without going into great detail, I’ll say that I knew that woman from the time her umbilicus fell off while I was changing her diaper, until the day I had to stand and deliver her eulogy, just after her 30th birthday. In short, after a tumultuous childhood, she ended up in prison, having become strung out on heroin. She went in to prison jaded, strung-out, emaciated. She came out grinning, clean, and overweight. But she learned a great deal about herself in there; one of the things she learned was her control over her own destiny. “Really,” she said to me during a conversation after she got out, “if you think about it, we’re all writing our own stories. We think we’re just acting in them, but really, we’re writing them as we go. So I just decided one day I didn’t like what I was writing, and that it was time to change it.”

That woman would have never have hesitated to stand, and continue standing, for something she believed in. Argue with you? Oh, no, not really. She’d just go about doing whatever it was she had in her mind to do. That’s it.

The second sister is a sister-of-my-heart. Met her online, then met her in person (yay!), and from the first time we started talking, it was as though we’d known each other our entire lives. That connection, it was intense. Unfortunately, she is married to a very very bad man; if he doesn’t display every symptom for a clinical diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, then I’ve never met anyone who does — and I was married to one of those for 10 years. Eventually, things came to a head because I wouldn’t let him play King of the Hill; if I disagreed with him, then I disagreed with him. Now, understand, in Isende-world? Disagreements are acceptable, and even encouraged. Disagreement breeds new thought, new ideas. So I’m all for it. But this man? No. It ended up that he engineered an online battle between he & me, with our other halves along for the ride. And he … well. To say he’s called me the C-word more than once would be an understatement.

After that event, I thought, and I realized that I could not maintain a relationship with him anymore. Further, I was unwilling to ever again have either his wife, or my husband, dragged into a dispute between he & me. I would not tolerate that again! However, the healthy decision to cut him out of my life would absolutely impact my relationship with this sister-of-my-heart. So, did some more thinking. Options, I said … it’s all about options. I wrote her a letter, and told her that I felt it necessary to remove myself from his life, and I understood that her maintaining a relationship with me would make her life hell at home. So, I told her, I’m cutting off contact. If you need me, you know where I am, but you don’t need to worry about me interjecting myself between you guys. Her reply was “You left me no choice, and so I’m doing what you want.”

Now, to be fair, she acted exactly as I thought she would; she took the easy option. See, it is all about the options. The choices. There’s an old saying, “We can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way.” That’s an apt saying. In this case, what played through my mind as I offered her this option was the sure knowledge of how my biological sister would have handled things. She would have laughed, rolled her eyes, then picked up the phone and called me, as though she had no clue what I was doing.

Choice. Option. Easy way, or hard way. The easy way for the second sister was accepting my giving her no choice. The hard way, which would have had to factor in her life at home with her husband, as well as possibly debating with me, would have been to reject my option.

This is the beginning of what I mean about choices; in this blog, I’m going to cover several avenues of thought about good choices vs. bad choices. In the next one, I’m going to cover how we apply our power of choice to our everyday lives. I’m gonna have fun with that one!

So. Let’s really dive down into this topic, shall we? In short, the purpose of this blog is to empower you. Each one of you, reading this (all three? four? lol) has far more choices than you’re probably accustomed to thinking you have. I mean, we spend our formative years in school learning how to sit down and shut up; then we go to secondary school and continue that behavior. Then we graduate to adulting, head out into the real world, snag that cushy job … and continue sitting down and shutting up. Truth is, we’ve been perfectly groomed for following our fearless leader(s) (boss? husband? wife? polititian?), so how can we have also learned about personal choice — personal accountability?

Let’s play with a couple of scenarios. One of them was originally contributed to me by my first husband; other than two amazingbrilliantsuperbphenomenal daughters, it was about the best thing that man ever gave me. It follows thus:

You’re walking down the street, innocently appropo of nothing … when someone slams into you. As you catch yourself, shocked, you turn to see who/what happened to you, and if they’re ok. But as soon as you turn around, they’re in your face, yelling at you for not watching where you’re going.

Now, stop here. Don’t think about the other person, think about yourself, right here. Imagine your mental (and physical — your sympathetic system probably got a huge rush outta that!) state at that moment. Uncertain what happened, no clue why someone’s in your face yelling at you. What do you do? Well, that’s where the choice comes in. You see, most folk would say “I’d get pissed!” or “I’d be scared!” — but that’s what you’d feel, not what you’d do. There is a difference. Reality is that there are some people who respond to everything on a hair trigger; they re-act. We’ve all heard about them, or known them, and so we assume there are a lot of them. In my life, however, I can honestly say I’ve only known a handful of these people, and I’ve known a great many people, in some fun and not-so-fun experiences. So if you add up five, or let’s be generous and say 10 of these people, out of the thousands I’ve known in the course of my 49 years, you’d realize that that’s actually a small number.

Some of us freeze. Some of us look for the quickest way out of here. And some of us look inside ourselves and ask, “What am I going to do right now? Am I in immediate danger? What’s the other person look like — angry, or afraid?” I’d almost instantly assess as much information as I have on hand, then immediately run through about a dozen scenarios, playing off most-likely-possible outcomes, until I figured out an approach … then I’d open my mouth. Oh, wait, I’d step backwards first, raising my hands in front of me in a placatory gesture. Honestly, my mouth would be opening just as my front foot was meeting my back foot in that backwards step. You see, I’m what’s called hyper-vigilant, and that is its own fun, but somehow or another I’ve picked up the knack of making almost-instant assessments that are action, of some sort. I have learned that I function better when I have a direction to be moving in, any direction!

What would I say? Who knows? “Are you ok?” or “Can I help you?” or “I’m sorry, do I know you?” to “Oh, wow, my bad, I’m sorry!”

The point of this blather is that each of those questions represents a choice I’m making. Each one represents, as well, the choice to not just slug this jerk who’s trying to blame me for his clumsiness! Do I best defuse the situation with belligerence, concern, curiosity, confusion, or apology?

Now, let’s turn it around. You’re the person on the other end, the one who smashed in to me, seemingly out of nowhere, and then got up in my face, blaming me for your inability to walk and chew bubblegum. What’s going through your mind? What are your choices, as this person? Here, again, many would say “There is no choice.” Why? Because at this point you’ve already made an arse of yourself, so you need to save face by not backing down. Honestly, read that aloud, and explain where it makes sense. It makes more sense, in our reptile brains, to hurt ourselves and/or someone else than to say “Oh, wow, my bad!” Anyway, there are still choices. At this point, you can refuse to listen to the other person, walk away, continue screaming at them, or listen to them, stop, think. Yeah, I know, apparently this person’s in a really bad mood (or crazy), but to say they don’t have a choice in their behavior because of their mood? Puh-leeze!

So that’s scenario #1, and it’s as brief as I could make it, so if you have thinks to add to it, I’d love to hear’em!

Scenario #2 is a bit more brutal and ugly, but it more clearly, in my opinion, demonstrates those times when the only possible choices are bad. I’ll go ahead and warn you — it’s graphic. But there are situations in our lives that occur which will force us in to making choices that are this emotionally harrowing. Entering a situation like this knowing you have the power to dictate your own behavior may be the only benefit you have, and it’s a very important one. It doesn’t mean you’re going to get off without pain; it does mean you have the option of doing everything in your own power to mitigate that pain.

You’re home, your young child playing in the living room while you’re messaging your partner about dinner plans. All of a sudden someone comes out of the kitchen behind you, walks between you and your child and points a gun at the child’s head. “Drop and suck me,” he instructs you.

Now, stop here. Again, imagine the emotional and physical state you’ll be in. Your mind will be racing, trying on and discarding scenario after scenario after scenario. Physically, you’re ready to flee or fight; your child is threatened! Fighting’s the more desired option, but you may cause your child to be hurt or injured. What, in this situation, are your choices?

Well, let’s take’em from the top:

  1. Do what he says
  2. Do what he says, and in an appropriate moment reach up, grab his cojones and bite down
  3. Grab the nearest thing at hand and throw it at him, hoping he’ll react instinctively and block whatever’s coming toward his face (YES, AIM FOR THE FACE!)
  4. Lunge toward him, given you’re within a couple of feet, and fall into him, hoping he misses your child
  5. Scream
  6. Scream and do nothing
  7. Cry
  8. Cry and beg him not to hurt your child
  9. Attempt to dial 911 on your phone without appearing to be doing so

In short, there are at least nine choices you have, but not a single bloody one of them is good. I guess we could say 10, if we add in “Enter a catatonic state” …

Ugly choices. Choices like making your kid eat PB&J every day this week so you can pay for their school lunches. Or like taking that third job and being gone even more, so that you don’t lose your house and/or car. Or like deciding if you can sleep in your car, shower in your work’s gym, and save up enough money not lose the car, maybe eventually rent someplace …

Ugly choices. These are the ones that most often freeze people. I think part of the reason for the freezing is what I’ve said above; we’ve not been taught that it’s acceptable for us to make decisions for ourselves. From the religious community trying to dictate our morality to the government trying to dictate our obedience, we’ve been inculcated for decades now to follow the rules. Be a good little citizen, do what you’re told, and we’ll do all the heavy lifting for you. We’ll tell you what’s funny, what’s news, what’s important — you just go earn & then spend your money, and hey, don’t make waves, k?

I think this is certainly a part of it. But I think it’s also got to do with so many other things; a desire by many to step away from having to make decisions; a significant breaking down of our educational priorities; an increase in the number of over-medicated children; an increase in the number of broken homes. Yeah, lots of other things. But see, this is the important part, right here. Because you’re reading this right now, and might choose to read it again if you decide you want to, you’re already processing the fact that you have options. You’re waking up to the fact that your world is so much bigger than you thought, even just five minutes ago. And what that means is that, from this moment right now, you can begin writing your life. You can begin considering what your actions will be, rather than your reactions (and at some point I intend to cover that topic, as well!). You realize that yes, knowing you have choices means you’re going to be responsible, now, for your actions; but it’s worth it to know that you can now direct your own life.

Ok, let’s take a moment here. Heady stuff, eh? That last bit is really important to revisit for a paragraph or so. Because that’s probably the biggest reason we don’t realize we have choices. It’s willful ignorance. As long as we can say to ourselves, “I had no choice,” then whatever happens isn’t our fault. It’s not our responsibility, and we don’t have to deal with it. Well, actually, yeah, we will have to deal with it in some form, but in a very passive (easy) form. Knowing that you can willfully act, rather than passively react, means that you can’t just pretend (at least to yourself) anymore that you had no choice, that it wasn’t your responsibility.

That fear of failing in that responsibility can be crippling, but it can also be overcome. Because you’ve seen it now, and because you’ve recognized it, it’ll come back and play through your head at inopportune times. But it will bring you peace of mind. Because you learn how to make choices based on risk, rather than on hope that bad things won’t happen.

One of my favorite-and-most-hated authors, Robert Jordan, had a character named Lan Mandragoran. I’m probably misquoting it, so I apologize, but this character had an outlook on life that helped to teach me how I wanted to shape my outlook. One of the quotes I remember oh-so-well was “Do what you have to. Just be willing to pay the price.”

I’m going to wrap up part 1 now, and just let you reflect on that quote. Or, if you’re a Jordan fan, you can correct either my reference, or my quote — or both! Chat atcha later!