Years ago, when I first heard the quote “our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made”, by Dr. Wayne Dyer, I quickly discounted it just as a lot of people do. Because I was so wrapped up in my “stories” about what should have happened that I didn’t see how I could possibly have been remotely responsible for how the choices I made were reflected in my life.
As I gave the quote more thought, I came to realize it had more meaning for me when I interpreted it this way – Your life is a sum total of your responses to the choices you have made. Maybe I’m taking too much liberty with Dr. Dyer’s quote but that’s a choice I get to make.
If you look at the quote as how the choices you made are connected to distressing thoughts, you take responsibility for your choices and are empowered to release the burden of unrealistic expectations you’ve placed on yourself and others.
We make choices every day, every minute and sometimes our choices don’t bring the desired results. It’s not the results that cause angst, it’s your response to it that causes stress. I made a choice to purchase one car over another and realized later that I hadn’t made the best choice for myself. Did I ruminate over it, stress over or spend time trying to figure out how I could reverse my choice. You bet I did! But, only for a short time. It was around the time I made my choice that I come across Dr. Dyer’s quote again. After that I put on my “other” thinking cap and decided I wouldn’t stress over it or question the reality of the choice I made.
Who knows, just maybe the universe designed that I would have this car and not another.
In Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, she cautions us to question stressful thoughts and not attach to them.
Had I attached to the thought that I made a bad decision, I would still be stressed, unable to appreciate the fact that I do have a reliable, safe car to drive and could have easily become attached to a stressful thought about a choice I made.
What about you? If you believe your life is a sum total of your responses to the choices you have made, how do you avoid attaching to stressful thoughts about the choices you’ve made? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Until next time…
Certified Life Coach, Family therapist and Group Coaching Specialist, Gladys M. Anderson, helps nurses, teachers, social workers, therapists and other care-giving women to set limits so they have more time, more joy and more energy for self-care.