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  • The Power Of Active Choices

    How many times have you said: “I have to…” 

    My ears perk up when I hear it. Why? Because we have more choices than things we actually have to do. 

    What are the things we have to do? Well, they’re things like eating and drinking, sleeping, using the bathroom (I know I’m a turd for bringing it up), breathing, dying and experiencing pain. 

    Everything else is really just choices with consequences. Embracing this view can be a game-changer. 

    A parent of an athlete once said: “College sports are dirty. You can’t trust anyone, but we have to.” 

    My response: “Sometimes it is. It’s a choice to participate. Names are changed, but people are the same. You are not trapped. There are only about six things we have to do in life.”

    When you make an active choice, it’s no longer an obligation, or something that happens to you.  

    Experiencing pain, loss and the uncomfortable is a “have to” in life. It creates a Catch–22. 

    I’m hungry. Which would I rather have? My options are kale or brussels sprouts. I choose Oreos, but my wife won’t buy them. 

    One of the Catch-22s I have experienced is having clients compete against each other in state or national championship games. For example, I used to get hooked into having to pick one team to cheer for. 

    It’s a great problem to have, and navigating it has changed me. I am no longer hooked to Us vs Them. You know the one. This team and its fan base are so out of control. But our fan base is filled with wonderful people. 

    I choose to watch as an observer and to see them use what they have learned. Above all, I just hope for excellence, and that nobody gets hurt.    

    The change is that I don’t get all wrapped up in it, and I enjoy it more. That mindset has actually spilled over into watching my son play sports.

    We often think we can avoid integrating and accepting pain and loss — by numbing, eating, drinking, using drugs, overthinking, overworking, getting angry, judging or blaming. All of these choices have consequences.

    The lesson? When presented with a Catch-22, don’t eat the Oreos. Instead, act according to your values. Evaluate the pros and cons. Although uncomfortable, act with courage. Choose a path that moves you toward your values and goals. 

    It’s a choice. You can kick the can down the road, but in the words of John Madden: Boom — they sneak up on you and now you have a problem. All that stuff you have been avoiding, holding in or ignoring comes out. It happens in a fight with someone, your health suffers, you make poor decisions or you have a meltdown of some kind. You may even take off your jersey, throw your t-shirt in the stands and attack the one guy who stuck his neck out for you.  

    Take care of your wounds. Hurt people, hurt people. Take care of yourself. Talk to someone.  Sometimes, hearing yourself out loud helps you to see the choices you do have.