By Dr. Steve
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The Power of
The way you activate the seeds of
your creation is by making
choices about the results you want to create.
When you make a choice,
you mobilize vast human energies
which otherwise go untapped.
All too often people fail
to focus their choices upon results
and therefore their choices are ineffective.
If you limit your choices only to what seems
possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want,
and all that is left is a compromise.
- Robert Fritz
know of a man who accepted dinner invitations every time he was asked. If you planned a
party and called to invite him, he would immediately say yes.
spite of his quick words of acceptance, there was a problem. On the day the event was to
take place, he would call to back out. Every time. The excuses were wild and extravagant.
It was said that most people invited him just to see how creatively he would cancel.
he became the butt of many jokes. And yet there must have been amazing forces at work. Behind
the scenes, this mans life was wracked and twisted with conflict and ambivalence.
dont know him personally, but you can bet there is a powerful force moving him to
want to be with people so badly he accepts every invitation. And something equally
powerful is keeping him away from all of those good times.
think everybody knows someone who is severely limited by forces inside themselves. It is
quite often more obvious in extreme examples like this one than in our own lives. However,
with few exceptions, each of us has something that limits us. We choose to act or not act
based on things deep inside ourselves, for reasons known only to us.
example, a woman I know loves the color red. She thinks red expresses something wonderful
and bold. However, she refuses to wear red because when she was a little girl her mother
told her that red made her look cheap.
know a man who wants a relationship. He is handsome, smart, and is willing to do almost
anything to meet a woman. Anything, that is, except leave his house. Every night he sits
in front of the TV hoping to meet the girl of his dreams, wondering where she is.
are as many illustrations of this kind of behavior as there are people alive today. And
all of these specific examples apply to many of us in some way.
amazing thing is that these kinds of characteristics can manifest themselves in so many
ways. We sometimes say people are unique, even eccentric. Often times, we call them characters. The truth is, we often use such words
to merely disguise their idiosyncrasies.
each of us, understanding our own self-imposed limits is necessary before we can clearly
see the choices we do have to move beyond those limits. The process begins with looking at
ourselves. However, these limits are often so deeply ingrained in our being, it is
difficult to see them.
know a woman who overcame incredible limitations in her life and learned to make new
choices every day. She went from being the target of other peoples cruel teasing to
being the leader of a large company.
you ask her to tell you about it, she would say, What I didnt understand for a
long time is my life doesnt happen on the big level where corporate decisions are
made. My life happens in the tiny realm of my personal choices.
dont need to be concerned about what giant business opportunity is waiting for me
around the corner. I need to be looking at the small fears and feelings that percolate
through my soul every day.
asked her once how she saw the difference in herself today, and she said, For a long
time, I wasnt sensitive to my inner voice. I didnt listen to the voice inside
of me and follow it to where I deserved to go.
continued, In our house, feelings were unspoken. So I thought no one in my family
had them. My dad loved me, but he thought being successful was like winning a war.
know, she clarified, for him, success or failure was measured by the direct
outcome of any one dramatic event in your life. Yet, what I discovered for myself was
success was being able to get on top of the many small battles, fought personally
inside myself and my attitudes every day.
was afraid, she told me, to make the choices that got the results I wanted.
Most of the time, I put my own limits on just what those choices could be. Other people
ran my life for me and I never felt in control.
laughs about it, and says, I guess taking a long look at myself has worked! I used
to clean the offices of a company that I now own!
critical aspect of personal empowerment is overcoming our self-imposed limits. By making
choices congruent with the little voice inside ourselves, we honor rather than deny the
truth of who we are.
have my own special exercise I use to free myself from self-imposed limits. Every March
21, June 21, September 21, and December 21, I sit down with a notebook and take the
following inventory. Its purpose is to clarify for myself whether I am still the creator
of my journey or whether I am allowing my life to be shaped by other people and
circumstances. I reflect upon the following in my journal:
How true have I been to my
self-created path in the last three months?
How have I allowed people and
outside influences to sway me from my path?
How is fear infecting my
What do I need to learn from
the fear as it is appearing in my life today?
How do I allow the paralysis of
fear to limit the choices I have in my life?
What choices am I surrendering
to my inner fears and my outside influences?
How can I reclaim my personal power by exercising new choices?
What of my own personal
resources are at my disposal which can help liberate me from my fears to continue on my
How well am I using these
resources to create a life of empowerment and well-being?
How well am I using the support
of others to support me in my personal journey?
you see how powerful an exercise this can be for you. For me, it provides a compass to
gauge whether I am on my path or whether I have strayed. The exercise allows me to
identify why I have strayed and what influences have contributed to straying. As well, I
can make a plan of action to correct the direction I am taking.
points I am always trying to clarify through this exercise are:
Am I the architect of my life?
How has my life gotten to the
point it is today?
Is my path created by my own
carefully crafted decisions that reflect the unique purpose and direction I want my life
Is my journey being interrupted
by random circumstances, other peoples expectations, and victimizing people who keep
trying to push me down?
Do I give away my personal
power to the rest of the world or use it as a catalyst in the ongoing creation of my life?
How am I enlisting the support
of other like-minded people?
exercise liberates me from the quicksand of petty and mean-spirited people, my feelings of
helplessness and powerlessness, and the often myopic way I view the world. And believe you me, this exercise works everytime.
this exercise now and notice the impact this exercise has on you and your lifes
know only too well how it is for those who dont do anything about their paralysis
created by not pursuing all the choices they can create for themselves.
friend of mine experienced the very paralysis Im talking about. She allowed her
anger and bitterness to deter her from courageously persevering on the path she chose for
a close friend and she had just finished her masters degree. However, the experience she
had with her school left her bitter. She always believed she was mistreated by the
administration. She didnt believe the curriculum properly prepared her for her
chosen field. She believed all she received from her two years was a worthless piece of
paper--when what she wanted was a marketable set of skills.
friend was angry with the people responsible for the development of her skills. Each month
she went without getting the job she wanted, her resentment toward the school and
its program became more inflamed.
after months of listening to these comments, I asked her a question she found
puzzling. One day over coffee, she began college-bashing and I stepped in.
conversation went something like this, I never got nearly the attention I needed to
better develop my counseling skills, she said.
it, I interrupted and asked, I understand how you feel, but I have to ask you,
when is this going to end?
How much longer are you going to choose to live your life as an accusation? How much
longer are you willing to be a monument to the bad treatment you received from your
continued, At one point or another in our lives, we have all felt let down by the
people and institutions in which we have invested our time, our trust, our money, and our
And some of us, who have those kinds of bad experiences become paralyzed by what I
call the victims rap. It is the
never-ending reliving of the facts of our betrayal, and it can leave us short on
satisfaction and stuck in a timeless rut.
leaned back, just in case she might take a swing at me, as I said, The victims
rap is like the frail outer shell of an egg. Within this frail shell is a capable survivor
who can overcome any obstacle in the survivors path. Once we are able to shatter the
outer shell by letting go of the rap, the
survivor within all of us can emerge. Once the shell is shattered, we have the chance to
emerge healed and whole.
we shatter the victims rap, the rap paralyzes us, blinding us to what our choices
are. Paralyzed by the rap, our lives become a living accusation, a monument to demonstrate
to the world the betrayal we have experienced at the hands of whomever.
for the first time, I think she began to see what she was doing, how she had forsaken her
choices by choosing to live in the victims rap.
all do it. We all, at some point, surrender our personal power by limiting our choices. We
do it in so many different ways. And one way is the victims rap.
it may be spending the greater part of our lives pursuing the hopes, dreams, and desires
of others. We do it for all the obvious reasons. We desperately want others approval. We desperately want the security of other peoples solutions to our
may be attempting to avoid a life of isolation and loneliness that seemingly our
independence will guarantee us. We desperately want to be loved. We desperately seek to
live a life free of criticism.
choice we seem to always be presented with is the same compromise we make by not rocking the boat, rather than enacting empowering
solutions to the obstacles in our path.
have only three questions to ask of you:
What are the obstacles in your
What choices do you need to
make about those obstacles?
Are you going to honor yourself
by creating those choices?
those of us who have been sleepwalking through our lives, the idea that we have choices is
like being hit with cold water in our face. When we are stuck in apathy, discouragement,
or depression, it can be impossible to see the options available to us.
result, we mindlessly walk through our journey. Have you ever had the experience of going
from one place to another and then not remembering anything about how you got there?
Thats the kind of experience I am talking about.
one way or another, most of us find ourselves in a pattern like this at some point in our
lives. Sometimes we get there willingly, sometimes not. Fear and self-doubt trap us and
inevitably hold us back. Consequently, we repeat the pattern of sabotaging ourselves
repeatedly, until we discover the most amazing secret of all.
have a choice, and there is a way to stop blindly repeating our patterns of self-sabotage.
belief system, as we have originally constructed it, no longer needs to be an inflexible,
intractable instrument of sabotage and discontent.
choices pave the bridge to personal empowerment. These choices apply to each one of us.
The same cycle of choices repeatedly presents itself every time we confront a situation
that challenges us to react in new and different ways rather than our old familiar habits.
UNIVERSAL CHOICE #1
We all have a choice between new ways of
thinking and our old ways of thinking. How you think about a situation will determine
whether you limit your choices or expand your choices.
may sound simplistic, but there is a single decision we all have to make. A single
decision that begins our journey. Imagine your life as a kingdom, a country filled with
cities and hillsides. This kingdom is as complex and intricate as you are. Some areas are
prosperous, some stricken with poverty. Some places have many sick people, others are
filled with fit, well-toned folks. And just like other kingdoms, your land has room for
victims of oppression as well as people who are free. Imagine them all right now so that
you can make the single decision that starts to change your life.
the image firmly planted in your mind, decide where in this land you want to be. Do
you want to be a victim or a survivor? Do you want to live in the land of substance abuse
or in the land of recovery? Do you want to be in the land of the pretenders or the land of
the achievers? Do you want to be in the land of the cowered or the land of the empowered?
is that simple. You need to make a choice. Go ahead and take a few minutes and think about
your choice now.
We all have a choice between action and paralysis. Life
comes at us whether we believe we are ready for it or not.
second choice is whether to start or not on the path of personal empowerment. I have found
that we do not have the luxury of putting off our journey until we believe we are ready.
you think about it, we consistently deal with life as life presents itself to us. Some of
us do it well, and some of us dont.
I have watched many people deal with life over
the years. Its my business.
found two big groups form when we talk about dealing with life. The smaller group accepts
the fact they cannot control many of the things that happen. They roll with the punches
larger group seems somewhat overwhelmed with lifes adversities. This group has the
same attitude as the little man at the circus who follows the elephants around the center
ring with a shovel. The question for them is not, Will the elephant make a
mess? Rather it is, How big will the next mess be?
you ever heard someone say they will start dating again as soon as they lose 25 pounds?
Have you ever heard someone say they will think about starting a business after the
economy gets better? Have you ever heard someone say they will ask for that raise after
they prove themselves worthy of the raise?
met a man about three years ago who had overcome a drinking problem. When I asked him what
the secret of his success was, he said, I used to think I was a victim, that my out
of control life pushed me around.
day, while I was trying to stop drinking, I came across a passage written by an alcoholic
in Alcoholics Anonymous.
said, When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or
situation, some fact of my life unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I
accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to
be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in Gods world by mistake.
I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober--unless I accept life completely on
lifes terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to
be changed in the world, but on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
UNIVERSAL CHOICE #3
We all have a choice between pursuing
someone else's path or being a trailblazer and creating our own path.
third choice of your journey is choosing a path to follow. In truth, there are an infinite
number of paths to follow. The trick is distinguishing between your path and the path
others have laid out for you.
many of you have lived lives of quiet despair because you are in the career your parents
picked for you, because you are in the relationship your parents picked for you, because
you are in the emotional straight jacket your parents picked for you? Here is a
lesson I learned.
of my good friends is in his late thirties, hes the vice-president of a bank.
Today, he makes no pretense about why he began his career in banking.
once told me, When I was little, I wanted my dad to notice me. I wanted to do
whatever it took to earn his respect. Well, I was too little to be good at sports. In
school, I was good in English but really bad at math. The odd thing is when I got out of
college, I went to work for a bank. I worked in the mail room, at first, as a part-time
job, but I began to rise fast. Dad was always intrigued by high finance so he took an
interest in my career. He said I could finally make something of myself.
the time, I told myself I liked banking, but I dont think I did. To give you an
example of what kind of skills I had, I helped balance the banks accounts every
night, but my math skills were so poor, I counted on my fingers.
though I work harder at my job than other people, I dont like banking. It took me
years to understand I really went into banking to impress my dad.
many of you are living a life that seems safest to you? The path youre on is safe,
predictable, and has already been done by somebody else. How many of you live a life of
discomfort because the choices youve made fit you the way a pair of shoes a
half-size too small fit you? There is a constant dull ache that never seems to go away.
many of you live a life of quiet despair because you don't want to risk offending anybody,
so you offend your sensibilities? How many of you have bought into the lie that you
dont deserve to be yourself, to have the things and people in your life you deserve
to have in your life?
choice of your journey is discovering within yourself what you need to let go of to get to
where you want to be. The secret is to find yourself and become that person whom you
discover yourself to be.
exercise is critical to help you to continually identify the choices you can make about
who you are and how you honor who you are.
will be able to identify how much energy you devote to aspects of yourself that honor you,
as well as those aspects of yourself that hold you back.
able to choose what you want to hold onto and what you want to let go of will liberate
your spirit to honor the essence of who you are.
exercise will require you to use 10 separate sheets of paper. On each sheet of paper
please write the following sentence stem:
doing that, read the following scenario and complete the exercise.
you are all alone stranded in the desert. You have gone weeks without food or water. Your
energies are drained as you trudge closer and closer to an oasis.
10 separate aspects of your identity, of who you are. Write down one aspect of your
identity on each of the ten pieces of blank paper. Imagine how some aspects of your
identity are weighing you down in your journey across the desert even more than the rigors
of the desert. It is clear that you must shed some aspects of who you are if you are going
to make it to the oasis alive.
take those 10 separate sheets of paper and separate them into the following three piles:
(1) those aspects of who you are you would let go of first; (2) those aspects of who you
are you would hold onto with your dying breath; (3) those aspects of who you are
which you cannot decide whether to let go of or hold onto. Be aware of your thoughts and
feelings as you do this.
completing this exercise, take the time to talk over the exercise with an important person
in your life. Get their feedback. Use this person as someone who you can practice with as
you put into action the choices you have made.
create a plan where you can routinely do this exercise to sustain the growth you begin to
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.