Decisions are destiny.
They may be small or large but either way the choices we make, make us. Our life, our self, is the result of all the decisions we have made and the actions we have taken.
If our choices decide our fate, we are well-advised to choose well.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow noted that the healthiest, most highly functioning self-actualisers that he studied were, among other things, good at making the right choices.
How do we choose correctly?
I often feel that often, we already know, but that we don’t want to face certain realities. Often the thing we need to do, what we must do is hard. It is painful and uncomfortable and we would prefer an easier option.
So, we deny, avoid, suppress, procrastinate or distract ourselves. But those tactics always come back to haunt us; they become bitter medicine we must later swallow. There is always a sting in the tail: Regret, dead dreams, missed opportunities, and the unlived life.
With any choice, decision, or plan of action, always ask yourself: What am I avoiding here? Where am I shrinking back from life? How can I meet my life more fully?
The key to the art of living lies in doing what needs to be done. Unfortunately, a lot of the time we have very skewed perceptions and false ideas about what the true needs of our lives are. We may focus on surface needs or pseudo needs in an effort to ignore or suppress deeper, truer needs.
We tend to be very loyal to ‘social need’ – what society, friends and family expect from us. It is easier, the path of least resistance, but also, often, the path of least satisfaction.
Conformity is the death of individuality. Prior to fulfilling social obligations there is a need to fulfil a more fundamental obligation – the obligation to yourself. Personal obligation, the path of authenticity, to live out you own vision according to your own values, is the primary task of the individual.
The existentialist Paul Tillich wrote that the courage to be is the courage to accept yourself. Which really means the courage to be yourself – to hear the call of the self and follow it.
There are two paths. Or perhaps many different paths of two varieties. One leads to growth and development. The other to stagnation and decay. There is no threading water in life. You are either swimming upstream or drowning downstream.
The soul keeps score. Every time you sin against it by betraying yourself it will bite back. You violate the inner laws at your peril.
James Hollis, the Jungian psychologist advises, when confronted with a question in life, to ask ourselves: “Does this choice diminish or enlarge me?” It is not ‘What is the more pleasant option, the one that will bring me success, happiness, make me look good, give me an easy life etc.’ But which path will lead me to my growth, my destiny?
Don Juan put it another way: Is this a path with heart? i.e. is it a true expression of who I am? Is this in alignment with my deepest values as a person?
Your life is your creation. It is an expression of your creativeness. Sadly, too often we create lives that are expressions of what others want, or what we perceive them to want from us.
Take back your life. With each choice, no matter how small or large, take ownership of your destiny, and become the person you are.