The Great Choice Debate
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing . . .—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."
My son and I have been debating something lately. It's about choice. He argues there are areas in which he has no choice. I say we always have some form of choice - which is all that's needed.
In his lifetime, he has received a few diagnoses, including Autism. When he's engaged in what are considered autistic behaviors - like being deep in his own thinking, thinking aloud, or running back and forth repeatedly, he sometimes feels he has no choice.
The momentum of his thoughts and the momentum of the behaviors that follow those thoughts is strong. So, he feels he needs something external to jolt him out of it (like me mentioning Doritos, which always gets his attention). But my son's the only one who can shift his own focus. Regardless of what triggers the decision - he's still the one at the wheel, making the choice.
If a person doesn't perceive his choices, he can't consciously make new ones. So how do we learn to see choices that are, in the moment, invisible to us?
I've come to see choice as like a muscle. We usually think of choices as options outside us. But I think we are able to perceive choices only to the degree we've developed this choosing muscle. As we become conscious, purposeful, and deliberate in our choices - small as they might be - the muscle grows and our awareness and ability to perceive options increases.
Perception of choice is central to our sense of power. Just because a person isn't aware he can choose, in this moment, doesn't mean his perception can't change in the next. With new perception comes new awareness of our capability to create what we want, starting with a choice.
Lots of love,
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From the Inside