Today's Meditation - If I had to pick one principle or idea that was the most instrumental to me in turning myself around I'd have to pick learning about the freedom to choose and its powerful effects.
I used to think my life was messed up and dysfunctional because life itself was treating me so unfairly. I believed that because I grew up in dysfunction and because I had to experience trauma after trauma that I was doomed to a miserable life. It was the circumstances that kept befalling me that made my life so difficult. Of course I knew that if you work hard, just maybe you can break the cycle. But because I kept experiencing crisis after crisis I believed I was cheated out of my chance to break the cycle. My circumstances were creating a living hell for me.
So many of us believe that the circumstances we find ourselves in contol the quality of our lives. That kind of victim-like thinking is what kept me trapped in a cycle of desperation and dysfunction. It wasnt until I read Viktor Frankl's Mans Search for Meaning and Stephen Covey's The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that I realised how my experience of life was created by how I chose to respond to circumstances more than by the actual circumstances themselves. This was such a radical and profound shift in perspective that my life was dramatically altered from the day of that realisation onward.
To think that the circumstances I kept blaming for my troubles actually had less creative power than how I chose to respond to these circumstances......astounding...Sounds simple and obvious to some people, but let me tell you; there are millions of people who have lists miles long that chronicle all the ways life has wronged them and they blame this list for the quality of their lives. I was one of those people and I can tell you that the fallacy is pervasive and powerful.
Heres an example: currently I am being denied proper medical care. I have had a neck/shoulder injury since april of 2010. Whenever I see a nurse about this issue he or she treats me as if im lying or exagerrating. This injury is so bad I often have to write with my left hand as i am now doing, even though i am a righty. Im in pain an dealing with medical here is very humiliating and frustrating. Now this is an unfair circumstance and it certainly does affect the quality of my life. Now a lot of guys in here choose to use similar reasons to 'go off' ! They will flip-out, walk around steaming mode in full on rage. They will grumble and complain and basically use any excuse to 'rip out' (cause trouble). They feel justified because the fact is they really are being mistreated. But heres the difference. Such behaviour causes them to be in an intensely negative state, they end up going to the hole (isolated segragation) and they just end up having a miserable existence. Yet they blame this misery on the system - they have no responsibility because they really are being mistreated; all responsibility is shirked off onto the system.
Heres how im choosing to respond to this grossly unjust situation. Im going to file a medical grievance, if that gets me no results im going to file a complaint with mass correctional legal services - medical abuse. In the meantime Im doing my stretches and exercises. Knowing that i am carrying out a healthy plan of action provides me with a sense of relief. I can now move on and continue my life. Sure im frustrated, but im not flipping out, im not full of rage and negativity, im not miserable and i am carrying out a more effective plan of action, which has a better chance of getting results.
The experience of life I am having compared with someone in a similar situation who blames outside sources for his experience of life is dramatically different. Why? It wasnt because my situation is different - its an unbelievably unfair situation - but becasue of how I choose to respond to the situation. Sure the situation is effecting my life, but how im responding to the situation is effecting my life in a much more powerful way. Id say life experience is 10% circumstances and 90% how we choose to respond to circumstances. And I am including extreme situations because I have been through extreme, tragic situations and even then how I choose to respond had the greater effect over the actual circumstances.
My motto is - I am always free to choose a respopnse that reflectrs my goals and values, that reflects the best of who I am, and it is through these choices that I create my own reality.
Victor Frankl once wrote "everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose ones own way. " Frankl was a survivor of the nazi death camps and even while interred in that devastating hell he lived as a free man. Noone can take my freedom to choose away from me. No power, circumstances, or authority can stop me from choosing a response that reflects the best of who i am no matter how challenging or tragic the situation. I hold that freedom tightly to my chest as if it were the life-line that will save my life.....because it is such a life-line.
For today I ask you to consider this: are there any areas where you hold life, a person, or a situation responsible for the quality of your life? If so(I still have many!:-) could you choose to respond to that person or situation in a new way, a way that would empower you and would reflect your goals and values?
Taking responsibility for our freedom to choose can turn hells into rewarding experiences, can turn lemons into lemonade. Yes, life can be unfair, yes, life can hurt us deeply, but it is always we who have the greater creative power. This is what it means to be made in God's image.
Current Events - Last night (thursday may 5th) as the 2nd official meeting of Mindful Living and it was a great success. I felt so empowered and connected to others as I faciliated this amazing group. We meditated for 10 minutes then discussed mindfulness in prison and how we can use our freedom to choose. Guys really took well to it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Im good at it, people respond well to me, and I find it greatly rewarding and enjoyable. This is why I am creating Life Quest when Im released. I know I can succeed at giving people new effective ways to change and enjoy their lifes.
By the way, the Lifequest Prospectus is completed, but I havent been able to type it up yet. Not that anyone is waiting for me to publish it, but in case you are reading this blog and interested in LifeQuest it will be coming soon. I just got busy with creating this new group and with ToastMasters.
Well I included a copy of the official flyer that I had printed and posted in every unit. I expect a big turn out at next weeks meeting. Wish me luck! There are a couple of typos but overall the flyer came out all right. I dont have access to the computer it was printed on so I just have to accept what I was given.
In June I'll be taking the training for trainers course in AUP(alternatives to violence program) so I can sort co-facilitating and workshops. I already took the basic and advanced courses. They were fun and rewarding. I look forward to being able to share my enthusiasm when I co-facilitate the next AUP basic course.
All right til next time, happy travels!
todays quote "Shallow men believe in luck, in circumstances. strong men believe in cause and effect". Ralph Waldo Emerson.
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