June 9, 2015 by
Filed under: Agility, People 

We all have times when we’re exasperated with the world around us – frustrated or scared or angry at something or someone. We’ll lash out, blame others for our predicament. Sometimes we depend on others for our own validation, relinquishing control to external drivers. In all cases, we’re setting ourselves up for a fall. We’ll rarely get the result we are looking for, and there’s a good chance we’ll fill our heads with negative self-talk, kicking ourselves in the butt for being so stupid.

If there’s one skill we can develop within ourselves to become more resilient, it is to develop the skill and presence to consciously exercise choice.

In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl saw that he had a choice – not in how others behaved, or how others perceived him. It wasn’t a choice in what he felt like doing at any particular time, imprisoned where he was in a concentration camp. Probably the most extreme example of how a person survived in overwhelming circumstances.

Through his experience, he saw that he still had a choice in how he percieved his situation. He had an ability to consciously respond to the situation in a way that worked for him. Not a choice to dine on strawberries and cream, not to choose easier work or a more comfortable bed, but to exercise the remaining choice that nobody could take away from him.

We’ve all got that capacity within us, but few have honed it to the level that Viktor Frankl did in order to survive.

We can develop the skill to consciously respond to the world rather than unconsciously reacting to situations that arise. By exercising that naturally lazy pre-frontal cortex, when facing a new situation we can stop, take a breath, step back, and ask ourself what the most reasonable response is for any given situation. The more we do that, the easier it gets. We develop a habit, it becomes a more natural way of engaging with our world.

Consciously practice choice in the easy situations and the skill becomes more accessible when you really need it. Learn to be mindful of your situation, and consciously choosing how to deal with it. Your life will improve dramatically. – JB

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