Although we cannot control or change others, or alter our histories, we do have some part in what happens in our life through the choices we make. The word choice originates from the Germanic kausjan meaning to taste, to try and to test.
Our task is to make choices more consciously, independent of others and societal influences, detached from unconscious influences established in childhood and aligned with our true self. We make ‘bad’ choices when, as Jung suggested, our thoughts and feelings are contaminated by past wounds and coping mechanisms.
Think of the times when you have felt the consequences of making choices based upon Ego, pride and fear, or those made against your intuition. Later, you exclaim, “I knew I should have listened to my self!”
We often act counter to our values, our beliefs, and our gut, perhaps doing what we ‘should’ do or what will please others. Call it karma or trickster energy – something eventually ‘bites us in the butt’ to remind us to get back on our path.
Sometimes we make decisions from a reactionary position. We’ve swung the pendulum in the opposite direction proclaiming, “I’m never going to be like my mother!” In these situations, we are still not making conscious choices and are only seeing black-and-white options. We have not discerningly asked, “How do I really want to act in this situation?”
So, how do we begin to make better decisions? We stop and assess each situation – sifting, sorting and distinguishing options – taking what we soulfully feel is best for us and leaving what does not.
In Greek mythology, Psyche was punished by having to separate a pile of mixed seeds. Faced with this impossible task, Psyche sat still and pondered. In the stillness, an army of ants appeared and helped her complete the task.
Metaphorically, Psyche required the ants – her inner nature – to capably analyze, sort and select what had been chaotically presented. Like any skill, learning how to best discern takes time, patience and often the ability to wait-it-out until the ‘right’ decision arises.
Often it is difficult to make choices because we may not clearly know what we want. Former U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, advised, “To live is to choose. But to choose, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go, and why you want to get there.”
We are not practiced in making choices that best serve our true self. We were not taught to listen to our body, our feelings, our intuition, our dreams and our desires. We were not taught to value our soul.
Deep down we truly know what is best for us. The writer Robert Louis Stevenson stated, “To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”
If you are still enough and put your ego aside, you will hear your body and soul whispering, benevolently guiding you to the best decision.