One of the things that I found to be the most powerful in my recovery journey was realising that I always have choice. For example, I can choose to let my emotions control my behaviour and not take any responsibility for my actions, or I can choose to learn how to master my emotions and process all challenging emotions in a healthy way. I can choose to delve into substance abuse and drink away my problems. Only to find that they’re still there in the morning, or I can choose to speak to a therapist and find a way to process my problems in a healthy manner. All of this is a choice but often if someone is in the mist of emotional turmoil that hasn’t been dealt with then often they’re not aware that they have choice.
You probably know how this sounds “It’s not my fault”, “I’m not that bad”, “But you don’t know what I’ve been through” etc etc.
The thing is that everyone goes through ‘stuff’ and when it’s at it’s rawest, then so are our emotions, and it’s incredibly difficult to see that we have a choice with our behaviour. But we always do.
- Start a Reflective Practice
To help cultivate the awareness of choice the first step is to start a reflective practice such as journaling, and to ask yourself ‘Was I the best version of myself today?’ If not, maybe there some things you’re not proud of – what are they and what would you have done differently? By understanding this thought process in hindsight, it demonstrates that you choose that action, and therefore you can choose differently. The trick is to move this reflection into the present moment so that you can catch yourself before you make your choice.
- Provide the Opportunity to Receive Feedback
I realise that many friendships aren’t built on brutal honesty, and mine weren’t until I was faced with some raw emotions that took us all into some open honesty. I realised quite early on that I hadn’t created situations where my friends could give me honest feedback and this was mainly because I didn’t want to hear the truth. I’ve since realised that feedback from an outsider who knows you well is extremely valuable to keep you on track to becoming the best version of you. To create this channel of reflection from my friends I used a trick called the BS card… click on the link to find out more. We don’t use this anymore because we’re accustomed to calling each other out bluntly, but at the start when we weren’t used to this the BS card helped a lot!
- Check into How You Feel, and Get Honest About It
Making bad choices that don’t serve us typically doesn’t feel good. Things like excessive drinking, or constantly feeling ashamed of your behaviour, or living in false hope that something will change. If something doesn’t feel good then there is always a reason for that, and it’s up to you to find out what that reason is. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because we’ve been told by society how we ‘should’ feel for years upon years, and sometimes it can be difficult to find out what those answers are. However, after practicing reflection and self-questioning this becomes easier because it’s literally like developing a muscle in the gym – you work on it and it gets stronger.
Realising I had choice was a lightbulb moment to me because it meant that I could steer my life in any way I wanted. Although, it also brought up some feelings of upset and regret as I became aware of the bad choices I’d made before I became aware of choice. I worked on processing the feelings connected to the bad choices, forgave myself and made a commitment to learn and do things differently. I hope now you realise you have choice that you can do the same thing too.
I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.
If you want the EQ tools to connect authentically with your values and the values of your fellow humans, then contact me directly to see how I can help you. Find out more about workshops, training and tailored coaching packages at www.shereensoliman.com.