I think one of the best and one of the most frustrating lessons that I’ve learned on my journey of healing is that I can make choices. Seems like a no-brainer, right? I could talk the talk, especially whenever drama was involved. That dramatic soapbox rant of, “you need to make a choice” was a common occurrence when I was living in a constant state of inner turmoil. To actually understand that I could make choices about my life was a concept that was a little unconscious and fairly frightening for me. This is a hard one to admit, but I’m thinking this may be a relatable issue in some people’s lives. Especially those of us who are are healing from trauma.
Some of the Best Lessons:
I became aware that I can choose to be around people who are working or living towards self-discovery, or I can choose to be around people who are satisfied to live with their eyes shut. I can choose to have people in my life who aren’t toxic, who want to walk that transformational, self-discovery path that leaves you winded at times.
I can choose to say what I think about a situation, and give my opinion. I can choose to advocate for myself and for others in a calm, level-headed, thoughtful way. It doesn’t have to come from a backed into a corner, come out fighting, reactionary stance.
I can choose to add input to a conversation knowing that I have something to say and that it isn’t necessarily the best thing to just sit by silently and agree. I learned that by adding to the conversation it’s not taking anything away from the person, but that I may be giving some insight and a deep and like-minded dialogue can occur.
I can choose to set up boundaries with people. I can give my opinion, I can stick up for myself, I can say no, I can say yes. I can ask for what I want and what I think I need and I can feel okay about asking for those things. I understand that I may not always get my needs met, but I learned I can’t get them met if I don’t ask. That lesson took me right out of that “learned helplessness” role, I would sometimes find myself in.
I know the above may seem basic and rudimentary but for me, these were new concepts. I learned to make choices before the drama occurs. I didn’t have to be afraid of who I am, or what I have to say.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t going through life as a withering wallflower before, it’s just now, I am much more authentic and less afraid to be vulnerable. I have found that I’m more likely to attract a group of people who are just as willing to be authentic and vulnerable, and to let go of the ones who use their narcissism to get their own needs met at the expense of others.
Now the frustrating part of choice:
I knew this all along….I would have told any of my friends, my kids, my husband, or strangers that we all have the ability to makes these choices. I would have said to anyone, “be authentic, be vulnerable, take a risk, take a chance.” It’s amazing how I can look back on this now and say “Whoa, I used to do that?” I used to be so afraid of what others may think of me, or worse be someone I wasn’t, because I was afraid people wouldn’t like the real me and run away. In truth, the opposite happened. My friendships, and relationships are much more satisfying now than they were seven years ago.
I will admit, that are times, I still get sucked in and find myself in a situation where I should have made a change, created a boundary or stood up for myself sooner, but that’s okay. That seems part of the human experience and I feel good about that. One of the best lessons I’ve learned about making choices is the ability to forgive and to be kinder to myself, and employ the knowledge, that we make decisions with the information we have at any given moment. Once more information comes to light, if it isn’t the right choice, I most likely can go back and make some changes. That is one of the best lessons and at the same time, it can be a most frustrating lesson.
There was a time in my life when all my choices were made for me. I have worked hard to make sure that isn’t the case any longer. Making choices; another step along the path of healing…A path of many twists, turns, non-linear, always changing but continuous growth.