A Positive Choice

Stephanie had a computer problem today, so I’m posting this for her. Enjoy!


As I said last week, I’m in the midst of a move. This week I am in my new place, but in the midst of unpacking chaos. What that means is this will be another short blog. Hopefully, though, it will be thought provoking.

      The other day I was having a conversation with my daughter-in-law. She was telling me about a mutual friend who texted her with complaints about his life. He can turn the happiest moments into reasons for depression. We laughed and said he didn’t have anything to complain about. Both of us have have lived through worse. In fact, some are happening now.

      As we listed a few, I realized being content really is a choice. I can chose to dwell on the negatives of my life, such as being forced out of what I thought was my home or having to live on an extremely tight budget and being forced by circumstances to to live with my son and daughter-in-law. Or I can chose to see the positives of my life. I am starting over, I’m creating a new life and going forward into a new adventure. I have a special opportunity to truly get to know my daughter-in-law, creating a relationship that is a joy to both of us and will set the tone for our families for years. Best of all, I get to practice my faith every day, seeing so many instances of my God’s provision and care.   

      This principle is powerful. When I choose to see the positives, to be grateful and to acknowledge the good things in my life, I’m happier. I’m also more focused and make forward progress. When I dwell on the negatives and spend my attention on those things that aren’t quite right, I have no joy, very little focus and even less motivation. Each choice, to dwell on the negative or the positive, creates its own mini-spiral, drawing us deeper and deeper into that mindset.

      Today I choose to see the great good in my life and enjoy this new chapter of my ongoing adventure. Won’t you join me?

It’s What You Do

          Margie Lawson is a gifted psychologist who shares in brilliant detail what she knows and how to use it to create writing that has emotional impact. I’ve never been able to attend a live class, but I have many of her lesson packets and I did attend an online class, Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors. It was full of helpful tips, solid information and encouraging inspiration. I gain new insights every time I reread a lesson. This month I want to share some of those insights with you.

          Of course, I do not want to violate any copyright issues with regards to Margie’s material. She put a lot of work into those lessons and deserves her monetary rewards. I’ll be discussing my insights and growth to what she taught. Not reteaching it. If you want to get the full benefit of her lessons, you’ll have to purchase your own copy of Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors. 🙂

          One of the first things she did in the online class was to define a self-defeating behavior. A self-defeating behavior is any behavior that hurts you in some way, keeps you from moving forward. It may be something that worked for your good in the past, but now it is a hindrance. Obvious self-defeating behaviors are procrastination, lack of sleep, perfectionism. The key is recognizing the behavior and doing something to change it.

          Actually, for me, the real key was in realizing it is a behavior, not a personality issue.

          I’m not sure why or how, but some of my self-defeating behaviors seemed to define me. To let go of them or change them felt like an emotional rejection of myself. When I consciously evaluated that feeling, though, I was able to admit that if it wasn’t helping me be what I wanted to be now, it wasn’t truly me. I wasn’t rejecting myself; I was rejecting, or more accurately, changing, actions that needed changing. Instead of telling myself I’m a perfectionist, I realized I sometimes chose to expect too much of myself. Instead of insisting on late nights and sleeping in because “that’s who I am,” I can choose to arrange my sleeping-waking schedule to best fit the current season of life (which at this moment includes some early morning hours).

          That may seem like semantics to many, but it was a turning point for me. It allowed me to separate the behavior from my sense of identity. Emotional issues going on in my life at the time probably had a lot to do with my perception of this. I needed to know that those things I perceived as “faults” (Margie never called them that) were, in fact, choices to act or not act. That was paramount in my healing, alerting me to the fact that I could choose other actions. I could choose actions that would benefit me, that would propel me toward success, however I defined that success. And, more importantly, I could chose actions that would propel me toward true healing.

          Some of those actions are only now being chosen. Some have only been realized in writing this blog. (I love the way writing is therapeutic for me! I hope you don’t mind this peek into that personal healing.) And some of those actions have kept me sane and functional for years. The fact is, I can choose actions that benefit my life and accomplish my desired goals or I can chose actions that sabotage those goals.

          What are some of the things you chose to do that sabotage yourself? Maybe they helped in the past, but now they no longer seem to work? What are those things you do that bring you success? We’ll be exploring many of those the rest of this month.

Choices

          Remember in a recent post where I shared about writing scenes and stories for some of my favorite tv characters? I’ve re-discovered some I wrote and fell headlong into the emotion of those stories. I found myself wanting to develop and polish the plot, flesh out the characters, continue the saga of their lives. Even though the moment in time when I captured them diverged drastically from where writers of the shows sent them.

          In fact, the way my stories diverged from those future episodes sent me down a lot of “what if” trails. At each juncture, I saw different choices or different events that could have shaped the character and the show into something radically different.

          And, in the process, I think I’ve discovered a new way to play.

          Multiple choice stories. I loved them as a child. I could never find enough of them. I’d forgotten all about them until recently as I’ve wandered through my own stories and pondered the various paths each story could take. I wonder . . .

          Alternative decision stories are difficult, though. To read and to write. All the ones I read as an adolescent were simple to the extreme. The plot had no intricacies and rarely was the character more than words on a page. That is understandable for sure, but I’m still wondering.

          Can a plot be created that allows for multiple choices? Can characters be created that grow and change, with each point of decision believable, no matter the choice the reader makes? Could those growing and developing characters continue along the differing plot choices, developing and creating that emotional connection with the reader? Is it possible to create such a story?

          I’m not sure, but I’m intrigued by the idea.

          It seems like a good fit for my writing. It may even be why I’m having so much trouble with so many of my stories. Part of what stymies me halfway through creating a story is all the possible choices. When I force myself to choose one, it means death to the all the others. Even as I progress past that choice, I start wondering about one of the other options. Maybe it’s time to write some of those alternate tales. Or at least spend my writing play and daydream time exploring a few of those multiple storylines.

          What do you think?