Insights: The Choice

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Finding myself complaining about the heat this past week, I had to stop myself and come back to asking myself the question, ‘Shelly, is this really an issue?’

Of course, the answer was no. It brought me back to the idea to stop complaining, controlling and judging what is outside of myself, and rather look inside myself and focus on that.

This is a lesson I have to keep coming back to over and over.

Our propensity is to lean into what is outside ourselves. That is how our society is set up. This often keeps us distracted from our true being. Distracted from our true being leaves us often guessing what is right for who we are.

Life has been challenging with Covid in so many ways, and it certainly has left so many uncertainties out there. Yes, we can wear masks and make sure we social distance, yet in reality the biggest difference comes from how we experience this time, and that is a choice. That does not take away the challenges, but it does allow us to decide how we experience this time.

I read a great book recently called “The Choice” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. I love to read and I find most books great, however this book stuck out for me.

Edith was in a concentration camp and at age 13 years she was left for dead. However, her story does not end there. How she survived such horrible trauma and yet she chose to live a life that many people would have trouble creating with a healthy background.  Her story so inspired me. It inspired me to stop looking at this time as horrible, but rather an opportunity to make a choice of how I see it.

In her own words, Edith learned “Our painful experiences aren’t a liability – they’re a gift.  They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and our strength.”

However, still finding myself going backwards and forwards between wanting to get into the story of the challenges and leaning into what is, I finally feel I am coming from a place of acceptance of the external. This in turn gives me the ability to decide how I want to see life at this time. That is the choice we all have.

I guess in some ways this goes back to the idea of the glass half full or half empty idea.  As many negatives there are with the virus, there are also some positives. I am seeing people connect more with their families. People are finding more importance in smaller things. I can tell you my garden has never looked so good. I am reading more. I enjoy hearing stories of people taking up cooking, spending more time talking to friends and family, spending more time at home and bringing families together.

I know it is not all that simple and there is a lot of sad results from this virus. Finding good in tough situations is important in our sense of wellbeing, our happiness and our ability to work through challenges. This also immensely impacts our mental health.

Stress so negatively affects our brain and our body, sending chemicals cascading through our body and changing its ability to function. Stress truly has one of the hardest and most detrimental impacts on us. I am not denying that we all experience stress. We cannot take it out of our lives. However, and this is so important, is it is how we manage that stress.

Using such techniques as breathing exercises, physical exercise, journaling, focusing on what you can control—these are just a few ideas to manage stress. And remember that we have a choice on how we see stress and what we do with stress.

In summary, getting through this difficult time and managing stress is essential. Focusing on family, exercising, on internal development, and what we have control of is essential.

By the way, Dr. Edith Eva Eger is now 92 years old and still making a choice to live every day the best she can.

She writes “Here you are! In the sacred present. I can’t heal you – or anyone – but I can celebrate your choice to dismantle the prison in your mind, brick by brick. You can’t change what happened, you can’t change what you did or what was done to you. But you can choose how you live now.”

What an inspiration she is to us all.

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