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How To Make Peace With Hard Choices?

This one's a bit different. I'd like to share a story with you on how the conversations we have through this blog can play out in real life. The reality is that, over the past few years, I've had to make choices that most people my age will not have to think about or even consider in their life time. That's not good or bad. These are quite simply the cards I've been dealt. My way of surviving some tough hands and making peace with hard choices has been to remember that I *decide* how to play the cards I've been dealt.


Now, this goes beyond that whole idea of 'you can't choose what happens, but you can choose how you react to it.' Personally and based on everything I've been learning about neuroscience and trauma-informed practice, that's simply not true. Your nervous system reaction to any given situation, challenge, or incident is mostly out of your control. Incrementally over time, that nervous system reaction can absolutely change as you develop nervous system flexibility. Ironically, you're more likely to develop nervous system flexibility when you don't try to change your initial nervous system reaction.


Instead, you start to develop nervous system flexibility or the capacity to respond differently once you accept how your nervous system reacts in the first place. This means that the real choice you have is: how to respond to your nervous system's initial reaction. For example, let's say you have a really hard choice to make. That's the card you've been dealt. This card makes you feel a knot in your throat, an elephant on your chest, and/or as though your gut has plummeted to the center of the Earth.


Door #1: to berate yourself for not being stronger, more decisive, smarter, or more capable to handle the responsibilities that everyone else *seems* to have no problem with. This option helps you feel unworthy enough that you shut down.


Door #2: to compare yourself to what you know or have assumed about others and how you think they would handle the situation. This option helps you feel inadequate enough that it completely freezes you.


Door #3: to recognize that you have a hard choice to make, that having to make that choice generates certain body sensations, and to tell yourself out loud that "it makes sense." This option recognizes the part of you that's scared to make a mistake, the part that knows you have to make a choice, the part that recognizes the stakes you're contending with, as well as the part of you that's embarrassed that this is hard for you in the first place. *This* is the door that can change your Life, your quality of life, and your nervous system's capacity to adapt to change.


I invite you to become a Door #3 Person. I invite you to connect with a community of Door #3 People. Door #3 changes the game because it doesn't try to change it in the first place. When you use Door #3, you stop trying to fix you, which is very helpful since you're not broken. Instead, you start to channel your energy to validate where you're at, which ends up leaving you with more energy to do what you have to do to get to where you need to go. I invite you to try finding Door #3 in low stakes situations. That way, it will become more readily available in more high stakes or tougher situations demanding harder choices.


Just in case you need a little extra support, I invite you create a Question Compass that you can come back to. In my case, the questions I use are: is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it nourishing? Is it sustainable? Is it growth promoting? If I can answer with 6 yeses when making a certain hard choice, I can also anchor in these yeses when making peace with the consequences of my actions.


If you need coaching support to figure out how to use Door #3 as a leader and support your teams in developing the capacity to adapt to change, book a Discovery Call with me today.

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