How Writing Every Day Reminded Me of The Power of Choice
“Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” ~William Jennings Bryan
Some time back I got together with some of the ladies I went to high school with. It was an informal reunion of sorts. As with all these types of events, the time soon came to share what we were currently occupying our time with.
When my turn came I mentioned a whole slew of stuff but I never mentioned the writing. I choose to blame the imposter syndrome for that.
One of the ladies, a consistent reader of my writing, filled the group in. She mentioned that I write. Not only that but that I write well. (I give many thanks for my friends who read what I write.)
“Before others will believe what is true about you, you’ll have to first believe it yourself.” ~ Jeff Goins, You Are A Writer
I write. I am a writer. I’ve been writing now for almost two years. It’s been a fantastic experience and a period of personal growth. I’ve achieved a number of self-identified and unexpected milestones on this journey.
One unexpected yet much welcome side effect of writing that I’m enjoying is a growing sense of consciousness with regards to the power of choice and how it informs my reality.
“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” ~ Maya Angelou
Reading makes better writers. In the course of my reading, I came across a quote by Maya Angelou that says, “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”
To get to the heart requires being more conscientious with the selection of the words you choose to inform on the topic you have selected. Failing to do this in my book, is to add to the noise that already exists.
Writers tend to write how they speak. As I become more conscious of the words I chose in my writing, I noticed something else happening.
I was growing more and more conscious of the words that I allowed to occupy my mind and those that I chose to utter when I spoke. Subsequently also becoming more conscious of the reality I was trying to create.
A small snippet of this process.
Narrative Version 1
- When I’m feeling sad I reach for a slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla milkshake.
- When I’m feeling scared, I don’t talk to my support system to engage in fear-setting. Instead, I retreat to the not so silent corners of my mind.
- When fear takes hold, I find every excuse under the sun why something won’t work.
- When I get angry, my words hit below the belt.
Since I started writing, the above narrative has changed to
Narrative Version 2
- When I’m feeling sad I choose to reach for a slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla milkshake.
- When I’m feeling scared, I choose not to talk to my support system to engage in fear-setting. Instead, I choose to retreat to the not so silent corners of my mind.
- When fear takes hold, I choose to find every excuse under the sun why something won’t work.
- When I choose to get angry, I choose words that hit below the belt.
This might seem like an inconsequential change but let me challenge you to do the same.
You will begin to notice like I did, that you have more control over your reality than you want to admit. You will begin to pay more attention to the fact that the good in your life is happening because you are choosing it and that you’re not simply missing things but in fact, choosing to miss them.
In my case, I began to notice that there’s only so many times you can keep reaching for a slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla milkshake to deal with the hurt before you realize that either there is too much hurt or that you’ve begun to tip the scales and you need a healthier coping method.
Or that there’s only so many times you can keep finding excuses to explain your fears before you realize that you’re beginning to get further and further away from the things you desire to have.
Your Circle of Influence
Steven R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, introduces its readers to the concept of the circle of influence under the first habit — Be proactive.
It identifies the circle of influence as the area of our lives that present problems, challenges, and opportunities that we have control over to solve, rise to and take advantage of.
Your language, the words you choose to use, fall squarely in your circle of influence.
Life happens in spite of you. Tomorrow, if you refuse to wake up even though you can. If you refuse to open your eyes. If you refuse to have a single thought cross your mind, life will not wait for you to catch up to it. It will continue along on its merry little way.
What Reality are You Creating?
When thinking about the title of this post I initially wanted to use the word taught instead of reminded. Walking back through my memories though, I realized that I know the power of choice. I’ve exercised it myself from time to time.
There was the time that my heart got broken and sadness was all I knew. I could have chosen to grab a slice of chocolate cake and a vanilla milkshake but instead, I chose an alternate course of action.
I saw the sadness and its insatiable consumption of my happier self, a self I much prefer and I chose a different reality.
When the heartbreak tears would announce themselves in the corners of my eyes, I would grab my sneakers and go for a run. I was not much of a runner then and I’m still not. I did, however, love how it made me feel. That choice allowed me to heal and as a bonus, I got to add half-marathoner to my proud list of accomplishments.
Life is the sum total of the choices we make. Whether we’re conscious of those choices or not.
We’re putting too much off for the future. Too much stock in what we will do when we get there. We’re forgetting that the present is all that is available to us. That, the future you want to arrive at can only be built today. In today’s choices.
Your life is never just happening to you, it’s simply following your lead. Your life also does not happen for you unless you’re intentional with your choices.
Actions will forever speak louder than words. Those actions are informed by your choices. In your choices lies your character.
Who do you choose to be? What reality do you choose to bring to life?