Suppose for just a moment that you made every choice that came your way today consciously. By consciously, I mean that you made your choices based on what would be best for achieving your higher goals. Even choices that seemed rather insignificant in nature would be made with your highest goals in mind. Making choices at such a conscious level would result in you creating what few people ever do: a wonderfully rich and fulfilling life.
The truth is, unless you do make choices consciously, you will find yourself struggling to create what you want in life. Creating just about anything—caring relationships, happiness, a rewarding career, you name it—will feel like an uphill battle. This is because nothing in life happens by chance, even if it appears that way sometimes. Wherever you are today, whatever good or bad comes your way, was prompted by choices you made in the past.
That’s a lot of responsibility to accept, but if you are up for it, then you can create just about anything. Think about that for a minute. Your ability to create a fabulous fulfilling life rest on the choices you make and nothing else—not a high IQ, not good looks, not talent, not social status. Sure, all those things make life easier, but they don’t guarantee you anything. You can have all these advantages and more and fail to create the life that you want. But develop the habit of making choices consciously, and you will succeed against all odds.
Of course, if you are not even aware that you are making choices, you can’t very well make them consciously. But even choices you make unconsciously contribute to what you create. The challenge then becomes recognizing the great number of choices you are being presented every day. The more choices you recognize, the more opportunities you have to empower yourself as a creator.
Recognizing Our Choices
Have you ever contemplated just how many choices we make throughout the day? Some are pragmatic: “What will I eat for lunch?” Some appeal to the senses: “Where will I take my vacation?” Some regard our responsibilities to our families: “Do I call my mom?” Some to society: “Do I volunteer?” Some to the environment: “Do I recycle?” Some challenge the ego: “Do I say I am sorry?” Some challenge the body: “Do I go to the gym?” Some the intellect: “How shall I vote?” And some are obvious moral choices: “Do I lie to get out of doing something?” These are the type of choices most of us make consciously and therefore assume at least some responsibility for what follows. Yet there are many other choices we make without even realizing we are making them and consequently do not assume any responsibility for them at all.
Below are three choices that many people make unconsciously. They are choices that seem so natural to our egos that they hardly seem like choices at all. But just because a choice seems natural doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. Even choices we make unconsciously can sabotage all that we are hoping to create.
1. The Choice to Be Offended
Reactions spurred by the ego do not feel like choices: they feel natural. When someone criticizes us or acts disagreeably, we react negatively out of a sense of self-preservation. But what is it we are trying to preserve? Criticism and slights do not threaten our well-being. They do not threaten anything that is real. We could make a choice not to be offended when someone honks their horn at us in traffic and nothing would be lost.
Choosing not to react negatively is a good thing because negative thoughts and emotions produce negative circumstances in our lives. How could it be differently? Thoughts and emotions fuel our creations. The problem is it is often hard to see how our emotions relate to our circumstances. Only once we start making the choice not to be offended do we grasp how negative emotions impair our ability to fulfill our dreams.
2. The Choice to Be Distracted
Have you ever noticed how your brain loves distractions? I mean, why else would you be inclined to shop all day online, watch cat videos, or read scandalous headlines? It doesn’t really matter to your brain if the distractions are good or bad as long as they keep it engaged.
Poor brain, it can’t help it: restlessness is just a part of its nature. But the problem with indulging the restless nature of our brains is that it prevents us from focusing on our higher goals. When we don’t focus on our goals, we miss out on valuable insights for accomplishing them. Insights only come when we are focused on what we want to achieve. They do not come when we are focused on shopping, texting, television, Facebook, or any other activity designed solely for the purpose of amusing the mind.
When we get serious about achieving our higher goals, distractions are the first things that have to go. We have to decide what we really want—the attainment of our goals or more cat videos. Meditating on what is important to us and what it takes to achieve it is how we go from giving into distractions unconsciously to assuming responsibility for creating our dreams.
3. The Choice to Give Away Our Power
The main way we give away our power is by seeking people’s approval. By seeking their approval, we give them the power to determine our worth. We then have to conform to their taste and values instead of following our own. And even if we succeed at winning their approval today, what happens if we lose it tomorrow? Then our self-worth will plummet. That’s the cost of seeking the approval of others—if it can make us, it most certainly can break us.
The truth is it is hard to break the addiction to people’s approval. Our egos love it, and since we all have egos, it is next to impossible not to enjoy it a little. But by becoming conscious of the cost of reveling in people’s approval, we can make the choice not to actively seek it out. This choice leads to our freedom. Only when we are free can we discover the strengths we have been given to succeed, because we are no longer afraid to be ourselves. In fact, it is fair to say that, until we do make the choice to free ourselves of what others think, we will never reach our creative potential.
The three choices mentioned above are not the only ones we make unconsciously, but they are the ones that most often undermine our attempts to create the things we want in life. When our lives (our creations) don’t turn out the way that we hoped, we seldom look to our choices as the cause. We blame it on conditions external to us or assume we just aren’t worthy of success. But those assumptions are wrong. Our lives, our creations, are ultimately determined by the choices that we make.
As we begin to recognize the many choices being presented to us each day, we empower ourselves as creators. We are divine creators each and every one of us. Our potential to create is staggering. But being able to reach our potential hinges on the amount of responsibility we are willing to accept for our choices. Remember, we are creating our experiences whether we recognize our hand in them or not, but we are unlikely to create anything worthwhile until we do.