Life Only Has One Real Choice – Responding - Grasshopper
Once you discover this for yourself, victimhood vanishes and excuses and justifications jump out the window.
The scary part about the choices we make is they, by and large, are made for us, not by predestination but by preconditioning.
We believe that we make calculated, intellectual choices about the most important things in our lives, but that's just not accurate. Our intellect only agrees with the choice after it's been made by another very automatic part of us.
This automatic part has been conditioned and most of that conditioning was done before our intellect was fully formed. Our parental conditioning lays the foundation for this part of us followed by social and cultural conditioning.
Have you ever seen a tyke regularly maneuvering his big wheel with reckless abandon? You may say that he learned to be an aggressive driver after he got his driver's license, but closer inspection shows his driving pattern was determined a long time ago. It may have been cute then, but how attractive is it now?
Look back over your dating or marital history. Is there an eerie similarity in the type of people you gravitated to? It's not an accident that you similarly "chose" those with the same M.O.
This behavior is immediately apparent when we witness the text book examples of people leaving one drunk for another, or a person "choosing" yet another abusive mate. What may not be so visible to us is that we also follow a pattern of preconditioning.
Did you really pick your mate or did your criteria of conditioning make the selection that you intellectually agreed with? How about the way you react to troubling situations, is it different each time or does it have an air of cookie cutter about it? Possibly you're subconsciously influenced with WWMD? - What would Mom do?
These automatic choices go unnoticed and they make up the bulk of our lives. Are you unlucky, cursed, accident prone, or have a dark cloud following you around everywhere? It's by choice – one that was made for you.
We predictably react to a stimulus. That's conditioning. It's so automatic that we don't notice it and we consciously justify it with some form of the phrase "that's just the way I am" or some version of "poor me."
"Can't I ever get a break?" is the telltale question that indicates your life is on automatic pilot heading into the mountainside.
The break you are looking for is called "Response."
Response throws a monkey wrench into automaticity and puts the brakes on repetitive, conditioned reactions.
I saw Time Magazine contributor, Caitlin Flanigan on TV over the weekend and she asked something that ties nicely into this piece. Her question was: "How am I going to play the hand of cards I dealt myself?"
That is response in a nutshell. There is no diversion of complaining about the hand involved, just an action strategy of choice as to how to play it.
Real choice is picking a response to a stimulus. When you automatically react, there is no free will involved, just an automatic pattern taking you to the same pile of worn out excuses with the same woeful results.
Response is something that needs practice before you take it to the big leagues. It's like my friend and teacher, Jerry Stocking says, "It's best to practice when the roof's not on fire."
If you want some say in what happens in your life, start responding. Responding begins by noticing you're on automatic pilot. What repetitive pattern of yours is delivering the same predictable results?
The dodge is to look past yourself to find someone else who's responsible for your set of circumstances. That's a conditioned reaction that keeps you caught in a loop of irresponsibility.
Begin to notice your reactions and then start to throw in the clutch. Disengage from your reaction and offer yourself the choice to shift in to another gear.
If you really want authentic choice in your life, start noticing there are other options besides your conventional reaction and select one of them instead.
Stepping in a new direction may feel uncomfortable at first but it's the only way out of a predictable ending. It comes down to what my 4th grade teacher Miss Wagner told us: "You can have what you want or your reasons why not."
Just change the word "reasons" to "reactions" and you have the home made formula for stuck.
If you've read this far, you're at a decision point right now. Are you going to make a choice or let it make you again? It really depends on what type of S.O.S you're looking for – the same old shit OR an emergency brake. The choice is yours.
All the best,
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