When people are experiencing emotional distress and seek therapy for help the first thing I do is get an understanding of how they got here. This means gathering information and learning of their history leading to the distress their experiencing. This includes the decisions and choices they made. People make decisions and choices according to how people, places and situations are viewed, or perceived, which is rooted in our learned beliefs and values. This is how we come to think about things and how we interact with the world around us. To understand this is to understand how an individual arrived at this place and the choices they made that got them here.
Many choices are simple. We can choose a burger or hot dog, the grey pants or the brown pants. Regardless of the type of decisions we make we arrive at our choices based on our perspective of past experiences, or from the experiences of others. Many choices are generational and rooted in beliefs and values that evolved from one generation to the next and becomes the way things are done, sometimes without question. Beliefs and values can often form expectations that are difficult to decide against. We can see this when families practice traditions like the celebration of holidays, successes and achievements. Family members are expected to be there.
Other families may choose darker traditions, like various forms of abuse, or addictions. Regardless of the tradition, participation is expected by family members, whether agreed upon or not, for to choose otherwise can lead to fear and conflict. This is an underlying premise of decision making born out of the evolution of humanity from ancient times, where fear has been a key factor, and carried forth even today. It's the basis of our choices from our likes and dislikes, to choices based on physical and cultural characteristics that remain a significant part of our decision making that continues to evolve.
For fun, imagine with me life at the beginning of time when man made his first appearance in the world. Let's call him Cog. Cog had to figure out how to survive in the world he saw in the light of day looking at all that was around him. When the sun went down and disappeared and after staying up all night hiding and wondering, "what happened? Where did the sun go," it suddenly dawned on him.
From there he learned there were some activities that are better done during the day and avoided at night. He could choose by way of contrast, or comparison, and it has become contrast, or comparison, from which we learn to choose one or the other, one from the other and one over the other to this day. We compare to choose. We still choose activities because of comparisons made between day and night.
But choices were much simpler then, and more dangerous because humanity's survival was at stake. We had to learn to compare what was safe and what wasn't, which we still do today. Let's go back to Cog, and his two brothers, Ugh and Moog. Imagine this. One night Cog said, "I think you can pet it. Moog, go pet it." Moog, "Ok." Moog get's eaten. Cog says to Ugh as they both turn and run, "You can't pet that kind. Spread the word. Run from that kind." So, no more of Cog's family is eaten by that kind because everyone learned to run from that kind. Choosing to run is a fear based choice, an aspect fiercely ingrained in the psychic of humanity still. We run from or avoid that which we fear.
Taking this a step further lets say, Cog's children, who survived, teach their children, "Stay inside and don't go out after dark or you'll be eaten," so by learning this from Cog they didn't have to experience the risk for themselves. Here we see reason developing and applied to arrive at a desired outcome by choosing one thing over another (comparing; stay in at night or be eaten, which would you choose?). This has now become an ideology that says 'This is the way of the world so this is the way things are done.' Those who didn't listen to reason and chose unwisely were eaten, further reinforcing the ideology that's now based in fear. This was the developing belief system (the ego-mind) that would one day be challenged as Comparing, Reasoning and Choice continued to expand and human beings evolved into the only creatures on the planet capable of such complex mental activities.
One of Cog's children, Klug, had children of his own, Gack being one of them. He didn't know if the night was as dangerous as had been held for generations. Gack, approaching manhood, began venturing out at night. At first staying close to his cave, he began to venture further and further away. Using Reasoning, Comparisons and Choice, Gack discovered how to find his way in the dark, recognize familiar landmarks, find places to hide from predators and how to protect and defend himself. He learned many other skills to survive at night before he was discovered sneaking back into his cave before dawn. His grandfather, Cog, and his father Klug, leaders of their clan, became angry, scolding Gack for defying the stay inside rule (fear-based ideology), telling him that staying inside at night was for his own safety. Hmm, sound familiar?
Gack took issue with this making it known that he learned to survive in the dark of night and that others can learn to do the same. A new and opposing ideology was born and came into conflict with the old one. One, based on the past in which the elders resisted, preferring to cling to the old ways, unaware of the limitations imposed by their thought system built on fear. The other, based on expanding limitations, learning new ways of doing things to survive and not allow the fears of the past to be obstacles.
As one ideology gives way to the next, caves led to villages and villages evolved into communities and communities, after many generations, evolved into cities that became dense population centers leading one day to the discovery of power to light up the night. People no longer had to fear the night. What was once truth for Cog in his time is no longer true for us in our time when we compare then to now. When the truth on which an ideology is based is no longer true then the ideology becomes an illusion supported by those who cling to a past that is no more and become imprisoned by it. "The power of decision is your one remaining freedom as a prisoner of this world. You can decide to see it right. What you made of it is not reality, for it's reality is only what you give it." (ACIM.231.Vll.9)
The processes of Reasoning and Comparing in making choices has also evolved and has become more complex then ever, and confusing with more things and ideas to compare and endless influences on our reasoning that keep us distracted, overwhelmed and fearful. The results for many are undesirable outcomes, holding so many of us emotionally captive.
The point of this is that Comparison and Reasoning are aspects of our spiritual nature and the crown jewel is the gift of choice. Together they become tools we use to create our world and the reality we live. The proof of this is all around us. No other creature on the planet is capable of making such sophisticated decisions to accomplish what humanity has accomplished to live the life styles we now live. I gave a talk at Carmel Temple earlier this year about how our ability to choose is a gift we regularly exercise without realizing it's significance and too often take for granted (You can view the video of this talk on my website https://www.insanityillusionslies.com/).
When you look back over how we got here we become aware in those early days of man, that the darkness magnified fear, and for good reason. As we discovered the power to light our world we no longer have to fear the darkness. Now it seems, it's fear that magnifies the darkness; the emotional distress, the likes of depression, anxiety and other forms of mental and emotional instability that many experience. These have a profound influence on our choices and their outcomes making what we fear in the darkness of our emotions real because the illusions, fed by fear, make them seem real indeed.
The evolution of humanity and the outcomes of choices and decisions based on Comparison and Reasoning, for better or worse, is our history of how we got here. The evolution of individuals and the outcomes of choices and decisions based on Comparison and Reasoning, for better or worse, is his history, or his-story (or her-story) of how he got here.
The question then becomes, what do we do now. When people seek therapy it's because they're unhappy and dissatisfied with the outcomes of choices made along the way that has become their story so far. The process of therapy becomes one of first, understanding the history. Question the comparisons they made and the reasoning behind why one choice was made instead of another. Then, help them to examine and identify choices that were problematic and when discovered, point out the opportunities to choose again and create a better outcome that puts the past in perspective and changes his-story for the better.
The fact of the matter is, no matter who we are, or where we come from, Comparing, Reasoning and Choice are aspects of our spiritual nature that reaches into every facet of our lives. From work, to our relationships, to parenting, to fiances, everything. Nothing is untouched. Not even how we deal with the coronavirus that has invaded our world. Becoming aware that Comparing, Reasoning and Choice are aspects of our spiritual nature and for the gifts they are, it dawns on us. What we do now is decide to see it right. Put fear in perspective and then we can...CHOOSE WISELY.
This is the first installment of a series of blogs. You'll want to follow the ways in which Comparing, Reasoning and Choice affects us and how application of these aspects of our spiritual nature can create havoc in our life or create the life we want to live. Each blog will focus on a different aspect of the relationships and interactions we experience with each other and our world and ways to look at these spiritual gifts as tools for creating that are assets we all posses.
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