Complexity of Choice:
If you find yourself distracted by feelings and thoughts involving the multitude of choices or decisions you must make.-
Acknowledge first that life should be simpler, as it was just 100 years ago when we felt blessed to simply have food, shelter, safety and someone to love. The vast amount of choices we have, for everything from television station, cereal selections in the grocery store to flavors of coffee at our favorite barista, are simply overwhelming.
The sheer number of choices is creating a tremendous amount of anxiety for us. This suffering is the type of anxiety that comes from our complexity of choice. When these feelings and thoughts occupy our consciousness, we can’t enjoy the moment we are in. They rob us, consuming vast amounts of our limited time and energy. We have convinced ourselves that somehow, among all the varied choices we have, one will stand out as simply the best; hopefully, making us the happiest. Stop and think, our ancestors had little in the way of choice. When food, shelter and safety were threatened, anxiety was provoked to meet those life sustaining needs. However, in that time, anxiety was a powerfully profound motivational tool used to satisfy our simple needs.
Today however, this complexity of choice makes decision-making laborious. Making decisions becomes confoundingly difficult when it comes to satisfying what it is we want, not need. Why, because we just keep creating more and more to want for ourselves. We have proven our imagination, creativity, curiosity and competitiveness to be insatiable.
Ask yourself ‘what is it that brings joy in your life?’ It is not the temporary and fleeting nature of happiness. While this may temporarily bring a smile to our face, because we have what it is we want, there is always going to be something more to want because we keep creating it! Look at the choices before you and recognize that your joy in life does not come from having what it is you want; that is an unquenchable thirst.
No, what it is we desire, not need or want, is the joy that comes into our lives when we have good, loving relationships with others. Simplify your choices to those that satisfy your truest desires and watch your anxiety lessen.
If you find yourself distracted by feelings and thoughts that come from too many choices-
Acknowledge that humanity has created so many possibilities from which we must choose, we are exhausting ourselves. When these feelings and thoughts occupy our consciousness, we can’t enjoy the moment we are in. From peanut butter to television channels, we have distracted our minds by creating such a complexity of choice.
Somehow, we believe if we have what it is we want, we will be happy. Only to discover that our joy in life does not come from satisfying our wants. That is insatiable, because we continue to create more and more to want for ourselves. Satisfying what we may want, may bring momentary happiness, but this happiness is typically temporary and fleeting.
Leaving us unhappy, longing for something else to want, something better, faster or bigger perhaps. Don’t waste too much of your time and energy believing that having the new car or iPhone, getting that pay raise or college degree will make you joyful.
No, our joy in life, what it is we truly desire, is to have good relationships with those we love. Start making decisions to have good relationships with others and watch how your joy in life increases.
If you find yourself distracted by feelings and thoughts that come from your future perceptions-
As hard as we may try, we were not given the ability to predict the future. When these feelings and thoughts occupy our consciousness, we can’t enjoy the moment we are in. Yet oftentimes, we find ourselves distracted, creating simulations in our mind of what our future may become.
We create anticipatory fears and expectations for joy, that have never been as bad or as good as we can build it up to be respectfully. We have become aware of so many possible outcomes, both good and bad, we have overwhelmed ourselves with our obsessive tendency for desired preparedness.
Think of the best things in life that have happened to you and the worst things in life that have happened to you; they typically come as complete surprises. Stop wasting your time and energy on these future perceptions.
Be clear that what it is you desire is to have good relationships with those you love. Start making decision one at a time with this intention and see how your future joy increases.
If you find yourself distracted by feelings and thoughts about the past-
First, acknowledge that the suffering you experienced in the past cannot be changed. When you allow these distracting feelings and thoughts to occupy your consciousness, you will struggle to enjoy the moment you are in. This is the type of anxiety that comes from our past burdens.
Reminding yourself that these feelings and thoughts only exist in one place, your mind. They are unique to you, unavailable to anyone else in such a fashion. No one else has the exact same knowledge, as experiential life is unique to the individual. You must remember that human beings can store their past, never forgetting the suffering we have experienced.
However, because the past cannot be changed, we must ask ourselves, why would we be capable of storing such knowledge if it cannot be changed; was this just to make us suffer?
Your experiences, or the feelings and thoughts you store in your memory as knowledge, are unique to you. Serving only as a teaching tool, intended to remind you of the type of choices or decisions you may have made that created this suffering. Regret, remorse, guilt or even shame are examples of suffering we oftentimes find ourselves ruminating in, unable to let go of, distracting us from finding joy.
Asking ourselves why we did this or why we did that serves little purpose. We should use this knowledge to remind ourselves not to make decisions that compromise our love of self, friends and family, or society. This permits us to use this knowledge, reassuring us that these past experiences have taught us significant lessons. Imparting wisdom that shows us how not to create such suffering again.
Take a moment and remind yourself that forgiveness is not an emotion but a commitment. A commitment you make to yourself, to not to occupy your consciousness with suffering from your past burdens.
Once you make a decision to forgive, you will begin to use this knowledge appropriately, making decisions to plan a better life for yourself and those you love.
If you find yourself distracted by feelings and thoughts involving the difficulty we experience in our relationship-
Acknowledge your frustration, disappointment and resentment, or even worse your anger, animosity, contempt or even hatred, you may have towards someone, or believe someone may have towards you.
When these feelings and thoughts occupy our consciousness, we can’t enjoy the moment we are in. This is the type of anxiety I like to call our relationship difficulties. Take a moment and acknowledge what was done to create such negative and burdensome feelings and thoughts. Look at the list of words above and identify how someone else’s or your own emotions, behaviors or responses created such suffering.
Those things, either you or they did, that created such negative feelings and thoughts in one another. Were you or they not as considerate, patient or honest with someone? How about someone who may have been disrespectful towards you or someone who does not express remorse in a way you recognize should be appropriate?
Acknowledge what you can do better next time, as you migrate through the complexity of your relationships. Ask to challenge yourself, working on what you alone can do that would ease this distraction from your mind.
Again, remembering that forgiveness is not an emotion but a commitment you can make, most specifically with yourself, as you choose not to suffer.
Again, take the time forgive yourself or others for the emotions, behaviors or responses that created the suffering; reminding yourself that the choice is ours to make whether or not it continues to create suffering.
Don’t jeopardize your relationships, it is where your joy in life comes from.
Lack of Love of Self:
If you find yourself distracted by feelings and thoughts that negatively affect how you treat yourself-
Acknowledge that when you have to make decisions in life and don’t feel positive optimistic, confident or secure, you are going to be anxious. When these feelings and thoughts occupy our consciousness, we can’t enjoy the moment we are in.
We beat ourselves up, creating indecisiveness and self-doubt. I think you would agree, loving yourself is not selfish, it is necessary for us to make good decisions. Instead, look within and honor your existence the way your creation intended.
Using the first column in the list of words, acknowledge that feeling and thinking this way about yourself provides us the foundation of good decision making. You must love yourself before you love others. Only then will you be able to offer your unconditional love to others.