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  • Elisa Brazell

"YOU MAKE ME SO MAD!" Wait, is that even possible? ~THE POWER OF CHOICE

Carrot or a candy bar? Democrat or Republican? Chocolate or vanilla? Work or play? So many choices to make every day. Do you ever think about the

power of choice in your life?

Our ability to choose, or agency, includes some of the following choices:

We can choose the way we react to how other people treat us. We can choose how long to continue feeling a certain way at any given moment. We can choose what we believe. Or we can choose to change our beliefs. We choose the way our life goes.

"As a fighter pilot and airline captain, I learned that while I could not choose the adversity I would encounter during a flight, I could choose how I prepared and how I reacted." -Deiter F. Uchtdorf

I recently had a good conversation about the power of choice with some people in the community of the Abundance challenge I have highly recommended.

In response to someone who was worried they were operating in a scarcity mindset because they were very frugal, one attendee responded:

"I think that just because someone is choosing to be frugal it doesn’t have to be grounded in scarcity and can actually be abundance based. We CHOOSE what to do with our money because we were given an abundance of choice. Even when I feel like my hands are tied, and I can’t afford anything extra I can say to myself, 'I choose to provide a warm home for my family,' My life is full of abundance."

I responded with some comments about how powerful choice really is, and how often I have to remind myself how many things are truly our choice.

Lets look more closely at some of the choices I listed in the second paragraph:

We can choose the way we react to how other people treat us.

Have you ever said to anyone, "You make me so mad!"

Uhh no. They have no control over your feelings. Only you do.

They may have done something that brought about feelings of anger in you, but that response is cave man (natural-man) or conditioned. Lets say you said that to your teen, who continues to leave dishes in their bedroom even after being asked to not take food there in the first place. This would bring up feelings of anger in many people, but someone who has worked very hard with their emotions may not have a response of anger. They may be able to approach the teen calmly, feeling care and love all the while, and discuss with them the reason for their continued disobedience to your request, and respectfully create a plan with their child to make something work for both of them.

Nobody can make us feel sad, confused, happy, afraid, disappointed, or excited or any feeling. Our feelings often naturally come to us, possibly in response to something another person did or said or in response to a certain circumstance. But again, conditioning determines which feelings arise and we choose how long we want to hold on to them.

"What do you mean by conditioning?"

you may ask. We may have different feelings arise for us than someone else due to:

  • The way we were raised,

  • The culture we have come to know,

  • Habits we have learned, practiced and established.

  • Religious or other beliefs we have come to learn and internalize

One way I have tried to condition myself and family to remembering this truth, that the choice of feelings is ours, is simply to catch myself or my family members when they say "You make me so... and say "I can't make you _______(feeling), only you can.

Another of the above examples was

We can choose what we believe. Or we can choose to change our beliefs.

This seems pretty straightforward...

Except when you think of truth and how difficult it is sometimes to know what is truth. And with media, internet advertising and news channels these days seeking to throw any hook that will attract our attention, needless to say, there is an overabundance of non-truths floating around the world.

As a Christian, the only way I trust to know if something is true is to have it verified by God through the Holy Ghost. And I am still on a journey to learning how to fully trust my answers and verifications from them. But maybe my process will be helpful to one of my readers, so I'll share.

  1. I pray and ask what I desire to know the truth about.

  2. I am not the most patient person so I don't usually wait for an answer during or immediately after that prayer. I leave God with my hope that He will show me truth when the time is right. Sometimes I will ask yes or no questions and if I get an overwhelming feeling from the Holy Ghost that what I asked was a yes or true, I have my answer. For me, that feeling is either physical- like a tingling (chill of sorts) or a thought, almost voice in my head "yes". "No" answers are harder for me because maybe the timing is not right to answer my question and God would rather do it in step 3 or 4. But if the thing I was asking about just leaves my mind and isn't pressing, or I just forget it, I often count that as a "no".

  3. My normal mode for getting understanding on what to believe is to allow myself to be still, with my journal open and pen in hand. I write my question and whatever comes to mind regarding it. Then I re-verify (whatever I feel needs to be) through prayer to see if I can get an immediate yes or no. This incredible resource shaped my understanding of how prayers are answered.

  4. I love it when my answer comes randomly through something someone says or a quote I read. When this happens its like the heavens just parted and all the golden heavenly light is shining down upon the answer, with angels singing. You know that visual? This is why I don't always expect to get my answer right away because sometimes God just needs to show me and the timing needs to be right to line that up.

We choose the way our life goes

Our present and our future will be happier if we are always conscious of the future. As we make current decisions, we should always be asking, “Where will this lead?” - Dallan H. Oaks

What a simple and effective way to check ourselves and the actions we are about to choose!

Some may ask, do we really choose the way our life goes- in all aspects? "What about cancer? I didn't choose that" Well you may not have, consciously. There are those who believe you did subconsciously. The thought is that our conscious thinking provokes feelings, which, if dwelt in for a while, our subconscious mind responds to the way we are feeling, and creates that and other similar feelings and experiences as our reality. One example is that feelings of stress, anxiety and negative emotions are shown to contribute to sickness. This is one of many studies proving this concept.

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."  Galations 6:7

Sow feelings of excitement, gratitude and joy and reap a lifestyle filled with experiences that bring those feelings.

And ya know? Even if you're doing those things and cancer, death of a loved one or some other hard trial comes your way, people who are residing in these sort of positive feelings because their conscious thoughts bring them on, will most likely CHOOSE to look for something to learn from that trial, and they will end up looking at it as a blessing of growth.

Some people believe that we may choose hard experiences in our pre-earth life as spirits that we would be given in mortality, knowing that particular trial would help us progress and ascend in becoming our best selves, and more like Jesus Christ.

I try to live with a positive mindset, but I'm not going to lie- I have been in a slump lately. I'm probably feeling the weight of all the anger and division in our country, as I'm sure many of you are too. I've had to work really hard with keeping my thoughts positive lately.

Life has its ups and downs. But the beauty of it, is that we get to choose how long those downs are through our thinking patterns.

Of course, there are conditions like depression that feel beyond our control of just being able to choose happiness and think ourselves out of those negative thinking patterns. There are many resources for people experiencing depression.

This Christian-based Mental Health resource is FULL of helpful articles to help you know where to turn, including ways to connect you to a mental health professional.

Ultimately, John C. Maxwell said it well...

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