Even if you believe you have no choice,
claim back your power by imagining you do.
There is much evidence to show that those who recover the best from painful events are those who find something meaningful in the experience. In our formative years, we tend to look to others to help us understand the world and to help us see the meaning of events.
Afterwards we tend to make the same assumptions as those around us as we were growing up. If we do not learn to question those assumptions we could be still be applying other people’s assumptions to our current life circumstances and these may not be useful. Our assumptions may be blocking our ability to find meaning in the kinds of experiences that challenge us.
We all have experiences that we find difficult. Yet we know that other types of people may simply breeze through exactly the same situation. Whether we find something easy or difficult has a lot to do with the assumptions we make about the meaning of an event, or the meaning of someone’s behavior. If we feel confident we may interpret a new experience as an opportunity. If we don’t feel confident we may experience it as a threat. When we respond differently, we get different results.
Learning New Life-Enhancing Ways of Responding
We can learn to change our assumptions and change how we interpret events by loosening up our habitual ways of responding. We can break out of our well-worn pathways of thinking and feeling and learn new ways.
The new ways may feel a bit odd at first, but they will give us a wider range of options for our thinking and feeling. We will have more choices in how we interpret and experience the events in our lives and so are more able to adapt and respond in life-enhancing ways.
The exercise below helps us tap into our inner wisdom and to see events and circumstances from a different perspective. It is a way to find meaning in what otherwise might seem to be baffling or meaningless events. We can use this technique for past events or current situations. We allow the item to come to mind then ask ourselves questions like, “What if I chose it?” and “Why would I choose this?”
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You do not need to believe that you actually did choose it, as that is not the point. You are not being asked to believe anything. The exercise is not about what you believe, or what you don’t believe. The point of the exercise is to create a frame for your thinking, which strengthens your capacity to find hidden meanings and hidden insights about yourself and about life.
The exercise also helps you break out of your normal way of looking at things to be open to new ways of thinking, new ways of feeling and new ways of responding. It helps make your mind more flexible: like a form of mental yoga.
The exercise works even when it does not provide any useful answers immediately, as you will probably not be able to think of the situation in quite the same way again. Your thoughts and feelings about it will be more fluid. If the exercise makes you smile or even laugh, that itself is a benefit. To find humor where we could find little or none before is a significant step forward.
We may have to dig through some oddities to find hidden gems and then polish them up a little to see if they are worth anything to us. This means that all the responses to the questions need to be written down. The wilder and more fanciful the responses we can find the better.
Try This Exercise in Perception
PART 1: Allow an unhappy experience, or situation to come into your mind. Ask yourself,
“What if I chose it?”
“Would there be any good reason to choose it?”
“Would anyone ever have a good reason to choose this?”
Try not to be harsh or blaming to yourself, just be open to the possibilities.
Ask yourself what the craziest, most far out, most “new age” person you know would say about why you chose it and write their likely responses.
What would your best friend say about why you chose it?
What would your favorite comedian say about why you chose it?
What would a wise old man who has lived in a cave for 20 years say about why you chose it?
What would a really annoying smart ass, know-it-all say about why you chose it?
*Subtitles by InnerSelf
©2013 by William Fergus Martin. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com.
Forgiveness is Power: A User's Guide to Why and How to Forgive
by William Fergus Martin.
Practical and accessible, the book does not require religious practice or philosophy; it simply shows how to forgive in order to enhance self-esteem, be happier, and break free from limitations that can hold a person back.
About the Author
William Martin's experience of over 30 years involvement with the Findhorn community is encapsulated within these pages. He has had many roles within the community including working in the famous gardens, Managing the Computer Department and at one point having the grandly titled role Chairman of the Executive Committee. He also worked within the computer field as a Freelance IT Contractor to BT, and Apple Computer UK. Additionally, he developed and delivered courses which combined Computer Training with Personal Development where trainees gained self esteem while they gained computer skills.