Posts Tagged ‘decision’

The presence of decisions

July 10, 2011

The consequences of our decisions and actions (or lack thereof) follow us all of our lives. They might follow us into the next iteration of our existence. In fact, they might determine the next iteration of our existence. I am in a comfortable spot in my life. Not all is perfect, but I am basking in the enviable position of being securely employed with a good home and excellent health.

It is very easy for me to engage my 20/20 hindsight and review how I got to this particular point in my life. As I examine each of my decisions and retrace my steps, a few of them make me shudder. Others make me clasp myself in a hug filled with relief and gratitude. The one I am most grateful for these days is that I have a job to complain about.

I have family members who lost their jobs some time ago and currently live off the charity of others. Both are struggling to find a job. ANY job, they say. They fill out endless applications online nearly all of which disappear into the vast empty hole of cyberspace. Sometimes, though, an application gets a response and there is an interview.

They call me when there is an interview, voices trembling with excitement and an anticipatory joy. It is only an interview, but they sound as if they had just been invited to the prom. They ask: What should I wear? What should I say? What if they ask about this or that?

This or that are decisions these family members made that resulted in them being unemployed and nearly unemployable. They took actions which were not in their best interests. When they relate their woeful tales of how tough their lives are now, it is all I can do not to point out how they got themselves there (when I do, the conversation ends abruptly). I can point to the exact decisions they made – years of them. Instead, I recommend decisions and actions that would take good care of them now and in the future.

This process makes me more cognizant of all the thoughts and deeds I carry with me. What I think today has a real impact on where and who I will be ten years from now. What I do today may not make my life noticeably different tomorrow, but the seeds are there getting ready to sprout. It is the ultimate reaping of what I sow.

I have to go now . . . my life is begging for some water and fertilizer.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

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The presence of meaning

October 29, 2010

We all tell ourselves stories – about everything: ourselves, other people, what others are thinking. Our stories all have morals to them, too. We give meaning to events. Events by themselves have no meaning. We ascribe meaning to them. We say “this happened and that means I am and/or others are (fill in the blank).” We even pronounce judgment upon our own thoughts and feelings that resulted from the event.

As I am meandering (and occasionally stumbling and downright falling on my ass) down the pathway of the past and not quite forgotten memories, I will come upon an incident that occurred over 40 years ago and still be able to recall the details including what was said and done, what I felt at the time, and what I was thinking. I also recall the meanings that I branded upon that incident, my thoughts, and my feelings. I can even recreate the feelings as well as think those same thoughts again. If I hang with the memory just a little while longer, I also discover the decisions that I made in those moments about how I was going to be from now on.

It is not a shock to discover that I am still living out those decisions over 40 years later.

It does not surprise me that when I think about changing a decision, I feel just a tad bit threatened and scared. After all, the child I was then made those decisions to survive the circumstances she was powerless over and remain as emotionally and mentally intact as she could. Now, looking back, I watch the child I was give myself a meaning based on what other people said or did even though clearly at the time my initial thoughts were, “that’s your problem.” I knew even as young as five years of age that what other people said and did was all about them, not me. But I gave meaning to that behavior. It meant I was responsible.

And, I took on responsibility for others because I had been told that my attitude was wrong, that I was making other people behave the way they did (all of us had adults who played this trick on us – remember the words “You make me so ________!”? They did that to manipulate us into behaving the way they wanted us to behave.)

This way of living pretty much strangled any growth of individuality. Instead, I became a puppet who thought she could rule the world if she just danced to everybody’s strings just the right way.

How nutty is that?

Let me reframe my nutty judgment. The skill and the insight are useful. I am living in a world where most of the population believes that other people control how they feel and, thus, what they do, including how they treat themselves and others. I know how to identify these people and thus limit my exposure to them. I appreciate the five-year-old in me who is wise enough to recognize the symptoms in others, and who took good care of herself way back then. At age five, she had neither the power nor the words to extricate herself from such people.

But now she does.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of choice

September 23, 2010

I didn’t have any other choice.

I have heard this reasoning from lots of people to validate the decisions they’ve made. I’ve used it myself.

People’s lives are largely based on the choices they have made throughout their lifetimes. The circumstances they find themselves in are often the result of decisions they have made. If they enjoy their circumstances and love the lives they have, and if they keep using the same choice and decision-making process they have always used, they will probably find themselves in similar circumstances most of their lives. Even if some disaster out of their control sweeps their lives out from under them, if that person’s way of being is to be happy and enjoy life, that person will find a way to make their lives happy and enjoyable once again.

The same holds true for people who are not enjoying their lives, who are unhappy in their circumstances. Even if someone comes along and plucks them out of their miserable state, if the person rescued does not change their way of being in the world, they will eventually find themselves back in a similar miserable situation.

The kind of choice-making I am talking about is reserved for those who have free will and the capacity to enact the changes that they seek. There are those who are exempt, like infants and babies. But as soon as children develop awareness of self, they start making decisions. And we learn a lot of our decision-making behavior from the adults around us.

As children witness other adults’ decision-making behavior, I am not sure how much choice they have about adopting those behaviors. In survival mode, we all rely on what we know works because we witness it. Even if it other people’s behaviors do not work and their lives are miserable, if we have not witnessed a different behavior to model, we will rely upon what we know.

Until we wake up.

Once we grow and differentiate from others, we all have the capacity to change our way of being in the world and change the way we make decisions. We have the capacity to discover what is the best choice we could make given the kind of life we want to have.

As my friend, Laurie at Speaking from the Heart, would say: “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Walking gratitude

June 2, 2010

Gratitude is a tough walk to take at 3:00 a.m.

At 3:00 a.m., the ghosts of past decisions come to visit. Each and every one of those decisions brought me to this space in my life. I look at the coming day and realize that not everything that is going on in my life is the way I like it, but I am happier than I have ever been.

That I set it all in motion becomes acutely clear – so sharp in my vision that I have to sometimes look away. I am not ready to see all of me just yet.

I am willing to see that I make all of the choices and decisions to be working and living where I am. Every day, I choose this path for many different reasons, and some of those decisions are made unconsciously. As my unconscious self slowly wakes up, I am meeting the self I am who desires peace and happiness.

At 3:00 a.m., I am not quite sure where I will find peace and happiness. All of my lessons in being powerless have taught me that peace and happiness are not “out there” even if I perceive others in the world as having more than their fair share. Still others have so much pain and sorrow, I feel guilty for having any joy.

It is easier to talk gratitude than to walk gratitude. My unconscious self who gave up peace and happiness in favor of guilt and inadequacy knows all the reasons, and I do not need to resolve all of those issues before I walk this path of gratitude presence. The wisdom of my eternal presence reminds me that this walk I am taking, this time of waking up, is happening within me. Within me is the path to peace and happiness – within my thoughts, within my feelings, within my actions, within my responses. Who I am becoming is reflected for others to see and perceive however they choose.

It is time to be the word and today the word is gratitude.

©2010 Barbara L. Kass