In college, I began advocating for survivors of sexual assault. In a little house on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Cloud, MN, I sat in a circle of women and began to learn skills that would shape my path forever.
In that training, I learned three powerful sentences I would use over and over again:
“I believe you.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“You have choices now.”
I have since discovered that the third sentence is empowering in any situation, not just in the aftermath of abuse or assault. Having the ability to make choices is a basic human right. It is freedom. After a traumatic situation, it helps to give someone back their sense of autonomy. Family members may want to step in and take control because it seems like a good way to take care of someone. However, it is important that the person be guided to make their own decisions about what will happen next. The same is true in less traumatic situations.
There are times when we feel that our life is off track. Perhaps the job we thought would be so great is no longer serving us. Maybe we become injured or ill. Maybe our marriage is falling apart. If we forget that we have choices in every situation, we take away our connection to our own humanity. Even in the midst of an assault, people make some of the most important choices of their life — the ones that help them survive. We may not like our circumstances, but within the circumstances, we #MakeaChoice.
There are two main types of choices:
This is where we decide what to do: We show up to work on time. We go to college. We call our Mom to say hello. We have too many drinks. We get enough sleep.
This is where we decide how to feel: We feel proud of ourselves for graduating. We feel hopeless about our prospects for love. We feel present in the moment as our children show us their drawings. We feel frustrated about traffic. We feel grateful for the food on our table.
It takes practice to know that we are in charge of our own lives. In a moment of frustration, sadness, anger, hopelessness, or despair, it helps me to remember that I have choices. I have the power to shift how I’m feeling. I have the power to say no if I don’t really want to go to a boring dinner party. I have the power to show up to the boring dinner party, to shift my perspective, and to contribute to making it more interesting. I have the power to say yes if I want to work an extra five hours for some overtime. I have the power to remember the overtime pay when I’m tired of being at work.
By increasing our awareness of all our choices, we open up the possibility to make choices that truly make us happy, engaged, and present. We take our power back. What choices are you making today?
Please share, ask questions, leave comments, suggest topics, and tell stories! I want to hear about your moments of magic, miracles, and synchronicity.
Dare to be immortal.
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