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Embracing the Gift of Choice, by Dawn Schuldt, LMFT

Whether you realize it or not, every day upon awakening you are offered innumerable gifts of choice. Choice is present in the very moment you decide how to roll out of bed and begin your day. Every second prompts options as to what to wear, eat and how to make your way toward and through your day’s activities. You choose your attitude and the way you find meaning in the tasks of each and every day.

You may imagine though, that your mood and choices upon arising simply happen; that you are trapped in life’s situations and how your nighttime dream world messes with your mind. Facing relational or work conflicts combined with electronic devices everywhere beaming unsettling news of crises happening locally or worldwide, it can seem as if your days and emotions are scripted and you have been “cast” into the anxious role of a casualty of circumstance beyond your control. Feeling powerless to cope saps energy and hope-giving resources. Eventually both body and mind feel overwhelmed and you feel like giving up.

Feeling depleted can water the seeds of mental “dis-ease,” or as the managed care system labels it, “mental illness.” For some, the continual onslaught of all types of stress and crises potentially harm bodies and minds to the point of dysfunction and diagnosable illness requiring medical treatment. When so pushed, humans forget their in-born capacity for resilience and lose touch with the body’s wisdom and strength for healing. All is not lost though! Even at this point, as long as you awakened today breathing with your heart beating-you have the gift of choice to take steps toward seeking help and for growing toward a sense of mental wellness!

Inspiration can be found by hearing the stories of others who have overcome dismal circumstances and crises despite all odds. One amazing story comes from survivor of the Holocaust, Victor Frankl who lost everyone and everything dear to him through the horrors of Nazi imprisonment and torture. With clarity Frankl invites readers to embrace hope and healing through his writings in Man’s Search for Meaning, an account of his years in Nazi death camps during World War II. He describes his awakening to the realization that regardless of his desperate suffering, he possessed the gift and power to choose his attitude, even as his captors sought to break his spirit and snuff out his life.
Having survived this horror Frankl wrote with a sense of empowerment and hope: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

In other words: Between the point in time at which troublesome events arise and when you actually react to them, you have space and time in which to consider how you will respond. It may be a quick second or a minute, an hour, or a day. You may choose to extend your “space” to hold off on responding for weeks or even years. Your choice to not respond is in itself, a choice. Clearly, however you react is within your direction, and you alone are responsible to choose how you will feel, think, or act. Once aware of this amazing concept, the option to choose both attitude and/or action becomes a step toward freedom from the tyranny of life’s inevitable changes, pain and loss. As Frankl states clearly, emotional development is rooted in recognizing the attainable and empowering reality of this gift of choice, despite what life hands you.

For anyone suffering with the painful “stimulus” of circumstances that impact emotional mood or mental functioning there is both space and power to choose options for help and relief. At Choices Psychotherapy our caring professionals honor your gift of personal “choice” as integral for coping with and healing through life’s difficulties and the resulting mental “dis-ease” humans endure. We recognize and respect that it often takes raw courage to acknowledge feelings of pain, discouragement and depletion, as well as to ask for help through difficult times. As our name implies, Choices offers many treatment options for clients dealing with painful situations and/or mental health conditions. Regardless of circumstances or which treatment modality chosen, all Choices clients are honored and respected as collaborative partners in identifying and enhancing their innate strengths that will best guide them toward healing and recovery.

With the inspiration of Victor Frankl, Choices Professionals invite you to consider and embrace the reality that, from the moment you awaken each day, your growth and freedom from dis-ease begins with your awareness and decision to choose your path toward emotional wellness, and we will walk with you.