Is it really possible to change a life? Live the life I choose? Make any real choice at all? While these are deep philosophical questions, I do believe that we can take baby steps towards understanding how a life can be changed.
True choice is not deciding between available options. You can have 10 flavours of ice cream on offer and still not be able to choose your favourite. All you can do is decide between alternatives, none of which are what you actually want! This methodology seems to fall short, when it comes to the way we live our one life.
Real choice involves making a decision based on what our heart desires, and then removing obstacles, until what our heart desires becomes one of our available options. Obviously, there will always be some desires that are beyond the realms of possibility for each of us – whatever I do, I’ll never be 5 foot 8 – but most things, however distant they may seem, are actually within our reach if we choose to pursue them.
Obstacles and constraints
None of us can be entirely unfettered when walking through this world and not everything that ‘holds’ us, can (or should) be removed. Most of us probably have something that makes us feel trapped from time to time; these things I would call constraints. Some constraints can change over time and some will remain with us for decades. If you are hampered by lack of money, you can change this over time, but if your constraint is (like mine) someone you want to care for, then you have much less control over the duration of the situation.
It was an enlightened person who said:
“grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change.”
We are wise, when we make friends with our constraints. Some things are not ours to change, but they impact us profoundly. Every constraint can be examined, and it is useful to ask questions such as:
- Is this something (or someone) that I truly want in my life?
- What is my responsibility?
- Is there anything that I can do to make this less of a constraint?
- Is there anything I can change for the better (however small)?
- What would make it possible for me to achieve my hearts desire regardless of this constraint?
I found it so much easier to live alongside the constraints in my own life when I found a way of looking at them – and thinking about them – that led me to gratitude.
Obstacles are different! They are the things that get in our way, that we often have to let go of in our lives. When I decided to take a sabbatical year in my motor-home some of the obstacles that I had to clear out of the way first were:
- The dogs that I had coming into day care and boarding in my home for their holidays. This work was built on relationship (with both humans and canines) and was extremely difficult to give up.
- My personal sense of inability. I was terrified of dealing with things (especially mechanical things) on my own.
- All of the stuff I owned that cluttered up my life.
- The fear of not having enough money.
- The fear of failing. After all, I didn’t even know how to do the things I wanted to get done that year – such as, publishing an ebook.
As I set my face towards what I wanted, chose a departure date (4th January, 2016) and began planning to make it happen, the obstacles began to melt away. Some were mountains that I had to climb, but none were insurmountable. Sure enough, January dawned, and an excited me climbed up into that cab, leaving the safety of my home behind. Sometimes the way to change a life is to just start walking in the direction that you want to go.
The life I choose
Many of us humans live for decades in a prison without walls, simply because we have no idea what we really want from our lives. i think it’s improbable that any one of us, would arrive at our heart’s desire purely by accident. Choosing is an active verb, a doing word…
It’s important to realise that we do not choose a life, make it happen and that’s it! Choosing your life is not a once in a life-time task, but rather a way of life. The life I choose is fluid. If I arrive at what I thought was the destination, only to find that nothing is as I thought it would be, then the wonder is that I get to re-choose. As many times as I like.
So what stops us choosing? Why aren’t we all pursuing our heart’s desires? What stops us dreaming ‘big’ and then calling our dreams into reality?
Primarily FEAR, backed up by a sense of INADEQUACY.
Our self-talk assures us that we don’t deserve to be living our heart’s desires, and even if we can convince ourselves that we do – at least in principle – deserve it, we are punched in the belly by a certainty that we are not enough to make it happen.
If you want to do some work within yourself to help you realise that you are indeed both worthy and enough, I would encourage you to check out the work of Brené Brown. Please let me know in the comments how you get on…