As I did last year, I will attempt to write a blogpost a day for the 12 days of Christmas; except this time I will pick a new topic each day. This is the blogpost for the eleventh day of Christmas 20/21.
As I wrote on the ninth day, my friend Elisabeth helped me by writing a summary of my medical history that I can bring to a doctor in Sweden. I am nervous about that and she is a doctor, so she could help. One of the things, we discussed in connection with that, was my history of mental health and treatments related to that.
For 12 years I went to a psychiatrist, who helped me deal with some of the things I struggled with because of my dominant alcoholic mom. With the knowledge I have now, I believe she might have been borderline, but I will never know. I have come far since that day in 1996, when I first got help, but I still suffer from things from my childhood – handling them bit by bit, layer by layer of the onion.
As we discussed these things, I mentioned that it might be good for me, if I could forgive my mother. To which she responded “I don’t think you should forgive her for what she did. She did the best she could that is true, but she also decided to do all those things. She had the option to not do them”.
She has a good point; I will think about if the forgiveness is needed for me to be at peace with it. If I ever will be.
More importantly, it started a lot of thoughts about choice, which is something I have worked with for 5-6 years, since I first heard about the responsibility process at a talk by Christopher Avery. That process has many layers that one can dive into and for the purpose of this blogpost, I will look at the choice part. To me a big part of taking responsibility is making active choices instead of just going with the stream. Often we think that we don’t have an option to choose, when really we do. All choices have consequences, and it is still a choice.
One example that I have met in my many one-on-ones at work is that some people are very unhappy with their job, and yet they feel that quitting without having a new job is not an option, nor is getting a job with lower pay. Aka they don’t have the choice of quitting.
Most of the time, they do have that choice. The choice would mean that they could not travel on vacations twice a year, or go out every week or similar thing; that does not remove the choice. I think it is helpful to consider that. Maybe you still want to be able to travel twice a year, and then you don’t choose the option of quitting, but the option is still there. There are also people, who don’t have that choice because they have mortgage to pay and mouths to feed, but we all have more choices than we think.
At the end of Being or doing I wrote “Remember that who you are is always good enough, what you do may not be.”, which is something that I have come to believe more and more over the last years especially after learning more about Virginia Satir (again a story for another time).
We are who we are and this is good enough no matter what. What we do may not be. For our actions to not be okay if we ourselves are good enough, we need to have made a choice to do that action- consciously or unconsciously. There are of course some actions that are built-in physical reactions, but most of our actions are learned behaviors. Sometimes we do not even know when that choice was made or that we even made it.
My friend Morgan likes to talk about this quote by Viktor E Frankl: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” and he does great talks about it. (It seems the quote is propably not from Frankl. Read here )
When something happens to us, we get a stimulus; that can be a physical stimulus, an emotion, a smell, something we see. And we respond, sometimes that respons is word we speak, sometimes a movement, sometimes others emotions that is triggered by the first. What they all have in common is that there is a small space between them.
It is not always easy to find that space, nor is it easy to react within it in. It is something that needs to be trained and practiced. The more you practice, the more you can actively choose your response, and that gives you so many more opportunities for what to do.
Again it is a matter of choice. The triggering of all these thoughts were not only about the choices my mother made, it was also about the choices I have made. I could be a victim of my childhood or I can choose to work with what is. There are many things that I wish were different, but we cannot change the past. We can change how we react to it, and thereby gaining more freedom.
I shall end this post with some quotes from some of my favourites wizards. From Lord of the Rings: Gandalf the Grey and from Harry Potter:Dumbledore.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” “[The sorting hat] only put me in Gryffindor,” said Harry in a defeated voice, “because I asked not to go in Slytherin…” “Exactly,” said Dumbledore, beaming once more. “Which makes you very different from Tom Riddle.”
It is all about choices: the choice is yours.
What do you do to make active choices?
Might it help you to do this more often?
Blogpost for the first day of Christmas 20/21: Time for reflection
Blogpost for the second day of Christmas 20/21: Unicorns
Blogpost for the third day of Christmas 20/21: Raining again
Blogpost for the fourth day of Christmas 20/21: Being or doing
Blogpost for the fifth day of Christmas 20/21: Gratefulness
Blogpost for the sixth day of Christmas 20/21: Having people in my space
Blogpost for the seventh day of Christmas 20/21: Family
Blogpost for the eight day of Christmas 20/21: Uninspiration
Blogpost for the ninth day of Christmas 20/21: Fear (and courage?)
Blogpost for the tenth day of Christmas 20/21: Jumping in puddles
Blogpost for the twelfth day of Christmas 20/21: Anticipation