Since first going through the program in April 2006, I have coached in the Choices Seminar room over 50 times. And still, I get Ah! Ha! moments.
So often, we humans have a tendency to blame another when we hit a speedbump and falter or fall on the road of life. Being accountable for our own experience is an integral component of the tools taught at Choices.
Wednesday night gave me a beautiful opportunity to get accountable.
As I pulled into our driveway around 10:30 on Wednesday night, the first day of the training session, I noticed my beloved had pulled the black garbage bin from the road to the door of the garage, but not put it back in the garage.
And that’s when the story-maker in my head began to dance with the critter as it spun a tale of his deficiencies.
“Why does he do that?” “What’s wrong with him?” “Can’t he see I’ll have to do it because he didn’t?” “How can he be so inconsiderate?” Yada. Yada. Yada.
When I walked into the house I didn’t say hello, or I love you, or even ask him about his day or share about what a wonderful day I’d had.
Nope. All I did was focus on the garbage bin.
Fortunately, my beloved is a tolerant and loving man. With patience and a lot of love, he moved us through the stickiness of that encounter without it becoming a reason for the outbreak of WW3. Which, when I’m listening to the story-teller chatter in my head, WW3 can seem like an imminent possibility.
In the aftermath of the ‘Garbage Bin’ encounter, I had to get accountable. What was really going on for me?
See, I know my response to my husband in the moment was not about the garbage bin’s location. It had much more to do with where I had been spending time over the past few months in my thinking about him/our relationship, me/my life – not because of who he is, or our relationship, but rather, because of the lack of balance in my life, my heart, mind, body and spirit.
And, because I was out of balance, I had been giving into negative chatter, developing an adverse story-arc of our relationship. You know, the one that goes, “He always…” “He never….” “He can’t/won’t/doesn’t…” And in my dark cloud picture of what was wrong with our relationship, I had let go of all that is right and beautiful, loving and kind in our relationship.
I was playing the self-defeating game of ‘looking for fault’ and acting out from a place of criticism instead of Love.
That’s what stress will do.
In the last couple of years of my career in the homeless-serving sector, I hadn’t realized that I had let the toll of the work begin to affect my sense of my own self-worth. In the final months before retiring, there were several issues and encounters that caused me to doubt myself, my value, my integrity. In giving into one of my darkest limiting beliefs, “I am not wanted here”, I started to believe I was not worthy, not wanted, not capable. In my confusion, I wavered in my commitment to standing in the truth of who I am, “I am a woman of integrity’ and gave into the victim’s belief, I can’t win/do anything right/am a failure.
Fortunately, even in the darkest moments of my journey towards leaving my professional life in the sector, I knew I wasn’t all bad — but the stress of my work-environment took its toll.
And the person who paid the price was my beloved.
Because that’s what stress (and a very active story-teller/critic in my head) will do. It will weaken my commitment to acting in loving kindness with everyone, to being selective with whom I share grace. It will deafen and blind me to the truth and shadow everything in the grimness of the stories I tell myself about ‘the other’s’ deficiencies.
Under prolonged stress, and a rebellious decision to ‘not use my tools’, I moved out of integrity into snarky, judgemental, critical posturing where I viewed ‘the other’ as ‘the problem’ and myself as ‘the victim’.
That black garbage bin was representative of where my thinking had moved from loving connection to trashy acting out.
It is a very human response that does not get me the more of what I want in my life.
I am fortunate. Being in the Choices seminar room, I was reminded once again that I have the capacity to choose to do something different in moments where the story-maker/critic in my head is inviting/urging me to act out.
In choosing to do something different, I get to stand in my integrity and choose a path that will create the more of what I want in my life. Joy. Creativity. Passion. Connection. Love…
Life is a ‘learn as you grow’ experience. Living the best version of ourselves means getting accountable in those moments where we let our ‘lesser selves’ take rein.
And when we don’t know or have the tools to take charge of our own lives and experiences, powerful personal development courses like Choices, give us the space, time and tools to learn how to grow with grace into being the best ‘Me’ we can be.