Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Choosing Your Experience

You have a say in how you experience life. You have the power to choose at every moment who you want to be and what actions you want to take. I have written a lot about setting intentions as an access point to being present, and of the importance of choosing versus reacting. It requires understanding and paying attention to who you are, what’s important to you, and what you want, so that you can make choices that are reflective of these factors.

The ability to choose your experience is not out of reach. But you need to be clear about what you want your experience to be, set intentions, and commit to your part in making it happen… at least for you. When embarking on any endeavor or experience (a conversation, an event, a trip, a new job), ask yourself these questions:
  • What do I want this experience to be?
  • Who do I need to be for that to happen?
For example, let’s say you are visiting family for the holidays. While you have no control over others, you do have the ability to set an intention for the kind of experience you want to have and choose how you will interact and respond. If you say you want the event to be joyful, loving, and drama-free, who and what are you bringing to the table?

Who you may need to be for this to be your experience is patient, kind and generous with your words and deeds. It may require that you let go of any resentments you hold. It may take being bigger than the patterns you typically fall into when around your family.

It takes practice to be more conscious than not, to choose versus react. You won’t be perfect. You may get triggered. You may forget about your intention and your commitment to yourself. But you have access to it any time: You can remind yourself of the experience you want to have and your part in it. You can choose for the 100th time to let go of resentment and find your generous self in the moment. You can take a risk and do something different than you normally do to bring fun to the experience. But you have to keep practicing.

It’s surprising how effective these two question are. At the outset of an experience, if you earnestly and authentically set your intentions for the experience and yourself, you will find that it is more likely to go that way.

Even if you only remember it intermittently, or forget altogether, your intentions have greater power than you realize. You are more likely to take particular actions and show up a little differently than if you go in blindly. Others may actually alter how they are being as a result of who you are being. And at very least, when you finally do remember your intentions – even if only after the experience is over – you have useful material for self-reflection. The next time you are in a similar situation, you may find yourself more aware and better able to choose.