SomaNews July-August 2018

Making Choices and Accepting Them

"What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

"And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

–Howard Zinn

When we are not willing to accept the choices we have made, we begin to resent ourselves, others or the situation. Resentment is a mood caused by the inability to accept our past actions (choices). This can be internal or external.

Acceptance is not about giving yourself away. It is about acknowledging the circumstances and facing what to do next.

Yes, we all make poor choices – with our relationships, the food we eat, our jobs... And this gives us an opportunity to learn. If we can connect with the part of us that is curious about what is the learning and accept the choice, we can become one of those who, as Howard Zinn says, “behave magnificently.”

I work with people who come to me saying, “I do this thing. I don’t want to do it anymore, but I keep doing it.” This is their choice, albeit often unconscious or automatic. How we are shaped by our history and personal stories can keep us doing what we don't want to do. For example, some will repeatedly connect with the same type of person, and watch the relationship not work. When I was growing up, the food I ate was a way of escaping my feelings. So when I'm feeling depressed, I eat. That is my choice. No one is pointing a gun to my head.

Well, wake up my friends. Sometimes we need a loving push toward taking responsibility. As a dear one said to me, “Get your big girl underwear on and get over it.” If we continually beat up ourselves or others because of the choices we/they made, and resentment builds because we can't accept those choices, it's time for a change.

When we see our poor choices as a mistake or we don’t take responsibility for our part, the resentment that builds can cause internal or external angst. We move into asking why over and over. If I had just made a different choice! Why, why why!? Sometimes we have no choice. But do we ruminate on it for the rest of our lives, making ourselves or others wrong?

We are born into a world where, for the most part, we do not choose our life. It is given to us through our family dynamics, institutions, gender, culture, and race. At a certain age, we move out into the world and we are responsible for how we live our lives. As we become responsible for our lives, we have choice.

Cultivating choice

I would like to tell a story about a client who made a choice that opened up his world to feeling and sensation he had never felt before.

This young man came with curiosity, and also with a history deep inside about what it meant to be a man, the protector, the vigilant warrior. His body was shaped as though he was ready to fight, but his face was welcoming. He knew nothing about what I did; seeing me was part of the work he was asked to do.

I asked him if he had a choice as to what he would like to change in his life. He did not have an answer, but he was willing to lie down on the table. Lying down was a choice.

After the work, I asked him, "Feeling your body and knowing you have choice to reply, finish this sentence, I am …..” He looked up at me, and with a sense of wonder said, “I am new.” 

He sat up on the table. His shoulders were relaxed and dropped. Resting on his sit bones, his length was impeccable. Then he told me, “I feel as though I laid down on the table one person and am now a new person.” He had choice, right then and there, and he chose to truly feel into his new shape and sensations.

So we have choice, especially when we live in our bodies, feel our sensations, and trust in ourselves. And to do all of that, you must be able to open the book of life, turn the pages, and remember you have choice.

Making choices from our whole self — blending mind, body and spirit — gives us the opportunity or power to make decisions from an open, present and connected state of being. 

Let's Explore

As a somatic coach with deep experience in somatic bodywork, I help clients increase their ability to observe themselves and listen to the story their body is telling. We work together to cultivate curiosity and choice.

I work with clients at my home office in Petaluma, California, as well as internationally via Skype. I offer a free introductory session to see if we’re a good fit. I invite you to contact me to explore working together.