Cover image credit: unknown. All rights reserved to original photographer.
What designed you to be this way?
“This way,” meaning, what type of person are you? Are you a nice person, a greedy person, a really funny person? Are you serious, humble, hardworking, playful, adventurous?
What exactly is responsible for the development of this type of person that you are?
Was this persona destined to your soul from long before this life - like karma and reincarnation? Or was it luck of the draw - like science and genes?
Or is who you are driven from a more empowered place? Is it more in-your-hands, like the manner in which you have continually chosen to respond to your environment?
The latter, self-empowered explanation is the one that interests me. The one that says we have the choice. Because that is who I am - the type of person to choose that thought process. And I think that’s the reason you read my blog - you also believe in choice and empowering yourself.
So let’s choose this self-empowering explanation of what makes us who we are and examine a topic, for context:
Breakups. Some people get so upset and affected over a relationship’s demise, and others simply don’t. It doesn’t seem like there’s much of a choice there, right? But the people who are assumedly inherently emotional - the ones who are devastated over the breakup - what decided that they would be the one to become devastated, and not the other person (assuming it was a generally standard breakup - not one that involved an obvious wrong-doing by one or the other)?
While we may not know the answer to that and may have to assume it is related to factors like biology or upbringing, we would be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t acknowledge that the devastated person does not have to be or stay that way.
Choice is a powerful thing, and penetrates into every layer of who we are.
I think there are moments in each of our lives where there's an opening to begin going a different way, if we’d like to. There are these moments where even if we didn’t have the luck of biology - or we’re raised to be overly sensitive, or scared, or superficial - we finally have the opportunity and the actual ability to choose differently for ourselves.
Have you felt one of these moments?
These small, seemingly infinitesimal yet potentially game-changing moments are so easy to pass up, so easy to disregard assuming we can access them again at our leisure. But these moments don’t come around all of the time. These are the rare openings when all other factors - biology, upbringing, mental capacity - don’t matter and what it comes down to is pure choice. In these moments we can finally choose to go any way regardless of what we’re used to - and therein lies the door to our modern-day rites of passage.
But it’s frightening to see these openings and allow ourselves to choose differently. For many reasons it’s hard; maybe we were raised in a way which made us feel like we didn’t deserve things. Or we inherited an anxious gene from our father.
In these epic moments of choice, a piece of you knows it could be a surrender of everything you have identified yourself as. You are known to be stern and objective but now you want to allow some tenderness and playfulness into your life. Or you are the clown of your friend-group but now you want to settle down and have people take you more seriously. It feels like self-annihilation, like death. That’s scary. I mean think of it. Think of how engrained in our society is the importance of a firm self identity and control of that identity. We find comfort in sayings like “at least it’s the devil we know” because we are that prone to choosing the path of familiarity, of not making a ruffle of things.
And so to change this identity, to slowly break down its walls and build a different structure is a big deal. And once you’ve come to terms with that choice internally, you still have the adversity of the external - as you deal with new circumstances and judgements. What will people think?
You’d be surprised how changing part of your identity is viewed in the eyes of your bystanders. How affected they become, how ready to judge such a thing as making a ruffle of things - and for yourself and your own happiness, my goodness! Think of how inclined people are to tell you “you’re in a quiet mood today,” or “since when do you care about homeless people?” They need to identify you and label the box you live in in their brain. It’s all about control, and your choice for yourself is throwing off their control Chi.
So one day your colleague says to you, “Since when are you so serious about your work?” Will it be so authoritative that you’re forced to abandon ship?
Of course not. You see, it is not as bad as we project. It’s actually quite silly and light when you play it out.
Making the choice is as simple as making that one first decision to move your feet from heading left to heading right in the image below. Choice. Boil it down to what it actually requires, at the very base of the whole thing. Think of choices and how simple they really are. Yes or no. Right or left. Stay still or get up. Stay or leave. Pick one. Now, pick your choice for yourself as simply as you do this exercise. That’s it. That’s all it is. A choice. Just one thing versus the other. A choice is not the details and the projections you impose on the future and its paths. It’s just left or right, in this moment. Just move.
Making new and true choices for yourself is an incredibly positive, miraculous and powerful thing. It’s these personal shifts that dramatically change the world. Because of the challenge and effort required in these more rite-of-passage type changes, they harness momentum enough to grow and be powerful enough to shift people’s hearts from one side of the spectrum to the other. These are the sparks that inspire positive social reform, altruism, conservation of the Earth.
People don’t usually go through these impactful rites of passage just to feel the change themselves. After such an experience, they’re taking this change to the world. To better the world, to put something beautiful into it, to relieve people, to help people, to inspire people.
So next time you have an opening to choose something closer to what you dream of, I think for the benefit of the world you should seize the opportunity. I encourage you to make that first choice and see where it leads.