Writing about the eight pillars of self-care these past few weeks has been a fun experience. It not only helped me see where there were holes in my own self-care routine but researching each one also gave me even more tools to help my coaching clients. I love it when that happens!
After writing the series and preparing for this newsletter, I found myself thinking about how we get to choose our own adventures with self-care and life.
And then, yesterday morning, while having breakfast with a friend, I realized our conversation related perfectly to today’s topic:
Choose Your Own Adventure —
A series of children’s books, Choose Your Own Adventure, takes the reader on a journey where they get to choose their own adventure by selecting a specific role to play. It could be a pirate, a doctor, or another character or profession. Once they’ve read some pages and decided which role they will play, they are guided further along the path with different pages and more options. Eventually, they arrive at the end of their adventure. Throughout the series of 184 books, there was a wide range of endings (from 7 to 44) that the reader could come to. Of course, once the reader has read one ending, they can go back and pick another adventure and continue reading the book.
Unfortunately, our lives aren’t a series of books with different endings.
Or are they?
Just because you start life one way doesn’t mean you must continue that same path. Take, for example, an alcoholic who has lost their job, family, and friends. They can decide to make significant changes that would improve the quality of their life, regain employment, mend relationships with their loved ones, and build a foundation for solid friendships. They’ve changed the narrative, and the story will end much differently than the direction it had headed.
Another example is the person who spent most of their life living an unhealthy lifestyle only to be faced with a threatening health issue. Again, the story is bleak and won’t go so well if a transition doesn’t take place. They can choose to continue the path they are on or take the steps necessary to reverse the health crisis.
From the moment we put our feet on the floor in the morning to putting our heads on the pillow, we make decisions. We decide what to eat, what to wear, how long we’ll brush our teeth, which way to drive to work, etc. In Psychology Today, it is suggested that we make 35,000 choices per day. Wow!
Reaction Versus Response —
We are also faced with opportunities to respond to or react to situations daily. Responses come from self-awareness, where the conscious mind works with the unconscious mind to analyze problems. It allows time to consider all aspects of a situation and the ripple effect your decisions will have on you and others.
A reaction, on the other hand, is quick and without thought. It comes from the unconscious mind. No time or effort is put into how the reaction will affect your life or others. Want more info on the topic of response versus reaction? Here’s another Psychology Today article.
When it comes to nutritional health, far too many people react versus respond. Case in point, my good friend Pamela and I spend a lot of time at the barn together, and earlier this summer, one of us would say, “do you want ice cream?” There’s no stop and pause moment for either one of us; the next thing we know, we’re getting ice cream despite having sworn off too many carbs.
Rumination and The Chained Elephant Syndrome —
Have you ever heard the story of the baby elephant that has one of its legs tied to a post? The baby elephant becomes conditioned to the idea that it can’t break the rope and wander off. As it ages, despite its size and strength, it believes it is still unable to break free. So, the elephant’s mind holds it to the post.
Unfortunately, it can be the same with humans. Instead of breaking free and choosing their own adventure, they continue ruminating about the past. As a result, their mind becomes chained, letting their past experiences shape their future.
If we believe we can’t do something, we become stuck and often decide not to give whatever that thing is (fill in the blank) another try. We keep the roadblocks in place.
I’ve seen this repeatedly with clients who come into my One Size Fits None program. They have tried to lose weight, eat healthy, and exercise, only to give up. Then they decide to give it another shot, break free of old patterns, and change the adventure. It’s exciting to see the rope break free and the changes begin.
If you are tied to a rope, give it one more try and break it. Choose a new adventure. You’ll be happy you did.