Are Your Free to Choose? Tune In...

Jan 21, 2022
Are You Free to Choose? Tune In... Conversations Worth Having Blog

Rumi said, “Lovely days don’t come to you, you should walk to them.” He was guiding us to realize we have choice in each moment of every day. But it doesn’t always feel like that.

The world around us competes for our freedom of choice. Media dominates us with stories of crisis and division, stoking an automatic fear response. At work, stress and urgency often result in blame, shame, and isolation. In our families, stressful times (like the holidays) may leave us wired to react defensively even when our real desire is for connection and joy. If we give in to our reactions, we give away freedom of choice; we lose our power to walk toward lovely days.

If you want to take back your freedom, then tune in before reacting, speaking, or making decisions. A simple strategy for tuning in is pause, breathe, and get curious. This is effective because it changes our neurophysiology—the biochemistry of our brain and nervous system—and that changes everything:

  1. Pause: When we pause, we interrupt our patterned reaction to the incoming messages. This slows the flood of stress chemicals in our nervous system (cortisol, testosterone, and epinephrine, which trigger fight or flight).
  2.  Breathe: Deep breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us further, slowing down our automatic reaction. Intentional breathing expands our field of vision; we take in more of the world around us. This shifts our brain chemistry, immediately moving us from reactive to the possibility of choice. A tiny window opens for us to choose. In that moment, get curious.
  3. Get Curious: Curiosity is a positive emotion, further shifting the biochemical soup in our brain and body. Simple generative questions can immediately give us the power to choose because such questions broaden our thinking capacity and give us access to creativity and empathy. A generative question is one that widens your view and puts you in the driver’s seat, where you can choose your next moment. Questions such as: What’s going on for me? What don’t I know? How might others be influencing me? What assumptions am I making? What are the facts and how much am I making up or just accepting? What else might explain the facts? What’s going on for others? What are we trying to accomplish here? What do I really want in this moment?

This practice can be accomplished in a matter of seconds. It gives you the power to choose your next moment. What choice do you want? Do you want to strengthen relationships, enhance your well-being and be your best self, expand possibilities for achieving desired outcomes and highest hopes for yourself, your family, your work? When you tune in, you are in a place where you can choose any of those options by choosing to have conversations worth having with yourself and others.

This holiday season, try tuning in whenever you feel triggered or stressed. Before you react to family members, the media, or your assumptions, pause, breathe, and get curious. Take control of your conversations and your life. Be at a place of choice.

My choice is to walk towards lovely days. What’s yours?


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