Aligning with trauma informed practice principles, choice is a luxury for many. When we come to a challenge with confidence, enthusiasm, and optimism (high sense of coherence), we have a greater ability to view stimuli objectively and are more likely act in ways that are congruent with our values and goals. When we come to a challenge with low sense of coherence, often related to unresolved wounds (trauma) and old belief systems from the past, we are prone to perceive the stimuli as threatening. When threats feel intense, we trigger the nervous system, causing us to react out of fight-flight or freeze, limiting if not completely disabling choice. When this happens, we are far more prone to react subconsciously, doing or saying things that don’t feel congruent to our values and goals.
To cultivate choice, imagine each effort to come to know, attune, strengthen, clear, and align as one more drop into our resourcing cup. The fuller the cup gets, the more our sense of coherence and congruence develops, all of which are investments in the cultivation of more choice in our day-to-day perceptions and resulting actions. We may not feel like the individual drops we add to the cup make a difference, but in time the surface tension builds to a point that it can no longer remain as it is. Eventually, one of those individual drops will cause an undeniable shift, moving us beyond the walls we felt confined by. There are many areas, old stories in which we are developing or evolving beyond, each with its own cup, slowly filling drop by drop. As we intentionally invest ourselves, we add another drop. We can trust that in time, emancipation will come, providing us a new found sense of awareness and freedom. When these overflows occur, perhaps more familiar as an ‘ah ha‘ moment, old belief systems evolve and we awaken to a new way of knowing that deeply and completely changes our perceptions and resulting trajectory.
When we understand this ability and inability to choose, we can offer compassion and forgiveness to ourselves and others. Because we all share in this human experience, we can at some level relate to the sense of powerlessness and shame that comes when we react from fear. In this way, we all experience this form of emotional transference, whereby an experience reveals an old wound from the past and it suddenly feels fresh. Even seemingly small challenges can pull us back to the intensity of the feelings associated with that first core wound, underscoring old and often misguided belief systems, and resulting in spontaneous projections that emerge in a variety of harmful ways. What if we could look beyond the shame of our reactions, self-compassionately and curiously tending to the wound that lies beneath? What if we saw the experience as a gift, providing an opportunity for healing? As we heal the wounds beneath, we promote a greater ability to respond with a different orientation in the future. In these ways, drop by drop, we cultivate choice.