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  • Gary Borland

#30 Choose to Choose



Build relationships by introducing real choice.


In the last blog we looked at saying ‘No’ and how difficult that can be at times. Saying ‘Yes’ can be an act of love, of service, of care or support for others, and can be the most wonderful thing to say and to hear. But if the Yes really didn’t mean Yes and what came with it was half-hearted or no real commitment, it’s likely to leave both parties dissatisfied, possibly frustrated and sometimes angry. Ironically, it can create relationship tensions and damage that might have been the very thing we were trying to avoid by saying Yes, when we really wanted to say No.


However, getting clear about why we say Yes or No, can offer some interesting insights for us. The place of choice seems to be quite central to these insights. Authentic choice or the delusion of choice can be difficult to tell apart at times. If our responses are not coming from real choice, but more of a habitualised response, we are unlikely to have positive experiences and build relationships with solid foundations. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist and Holocaust survivor offered this consideration:


“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.”


Let’s say the stimulus is a request someone makes of us. Experiencing a compulsion to respond quickly – and often positively – we blurt out an answer. On those occasions, the response comes very quickly and the space between the 2 is therefore very small. Why we respond so quickly and often with a Yes may have its roots in many things, some of which we will touch on in the next blog. But for now, imagine choosing to pause every time a request is made of you, processing the request in the space you’ve created for yourself, and then choosing your response before answering.


Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable it can be to not respond quicky to someone? How often do you feel the need to fill the space by saying something when there’s silence? It’s likely that this may be heightened when you’ve just been asked something and now it’s your turn to speak! Beginning to notice how often choice is not really present in responses to requests, opens up new possibilities. What is an uncomfortable silence? Who says? And who is it uncomfortable for?


Without creating space there is unlikely to be choice. When real choice doesn’t exist, we are likely to get what we always get and the very relationships and interactions we want to build are damaged. Sadly, irreparably at times. Choose to choose.

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