I was working with a woman recently who had been through two divorces. I was teaching her a new understanding of relationship dynamics and some new relationship tools when she boldly informed me that she would never get married again.
What I observed her doing was taking events in the past and allowing them to dictate the future, regardless of what may yet happen. While I had no attachment to her ever getting married again, I did want her to have the freedom to make decisions in the present moment.
I invited her to examine the decision she had made and see how it benefitted her. I imagine she thought it protected her from another “mistake.” However, all a predetermined decision like that does is put you in a jail made of your own bold declarations. When you repeat a decision or statement enough, it creates a challenging struggle when life presents a different opportunity. I suggested she change her language just a bit to reflect a more accurate truth and allow her the most freedom in her life: “At this point, I do not anticipate getting married again.” This still gives her the freedom not to get married, while simultaneously allowing her the option to get married in the event that the right guy and the right situation came into her life.
We have a strange tendency to sentence ourselves—and others— to imprisonment with decisions we make without all the necessary information. We sum things up at a certain point in time, create a belief, and then presume “that is just the way it is.” In actuality it may not, at all, be the truth.
We also sum ourselves up with decisions about “how we are,” as if we have no say in it or any ability to approach situations differently. Then we behave accordingly in every area of our lives when, in truth, that way of being may just not translate well to different circumstances. For instance, being analytical may serve you well at work, but it may not serve you in the midst of a romantic moment. In a spiritual situation, it may actually impede your growth and insight.
We know how to alter our exterior to match the present moment, but we don’t seem to realize that we have the same ability to alter our interior. Just as you would change clothes for a fancy dinner or to go for a hike, I invite you to strive for the freedom to change your approach, your pace, your assumptions, your beliefs and your attitudes as you engage in different activities, or encounter different people.
Freedom comes from flexibility in your thinking and behavior, rather than rigidity. This first requires knowing what you are doing or thinking in the first place.
Practice self-observation and notice what you do and what you think. Then examine that newfound awareness to see how that thought or action is actually serving you. Are your thoughts and behaviors leading you toward what you want or are they actually the obstacles?
Be mindful of words like “always,” “forever,” “never,” “all,” “no one” and “everyone.” If we are truly honest, we realize that the statements that accompany these words are rarely accurate. “All men….” “Everyone thinks….” “No one likes….” “You always….”
Decisions made due to these assumptions turn into beliefs and beliefs dictate our behavior. We then often come up with permanent responses to temporary problems. Actions aligned with faulty beliefs cause a lot of grief for everyone involved.
Imagine that your thoughts and words can actually cast a spell, which then sentences you to a certain way of being. Your prejudiced beliefs and words also sentence others to a certain way of being, even if time and perspective reveal a different truth.
See if you can set yourself, and others, free from limiting thoughts, self-fulfilling prophecies, and hurtful actions.