CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
Do you feel like your life is just happening to you?
Do you feel buffeted by circumstances outside of your control?
Maybe you feel that your attachment style, childhood trauma, past choices, family dynamics, and education levels all dictate what you can do with your life and who you can be?
The secret to shifting from a passive, victimized experience of the world to a proactive empowered one can be found in…that box of books in your mom’s basement from 1985.
Stay with me, I promise this is going to make sense.
If you’re a child of the 80s and 90s, you probably remember “choose-your-own-adventure” books. As the name implies, choose-your-own-adventure books take a normally passive experience like reading and invite you to become an active participant in the creation of the story.
They present you with a series of decisions, and your reading experience varies based on what you choose.
You may reach the end of a chapter – but instead of turning the page and continuing with the book, you are presented with a choice:
You reach a lake. To turn back and go back into town with Sam, turn to page 74. To get in the boat and cross the lake with Jane, turn to page 82.
And then, the book will unfold based on the decision you make, inviting you to make more decisions as you go.
In this way, you are both the reader AND the author of the book.
Why am I waxing nostalgic about YA literature from the ’80s?
Because I want you to think of your own life as a choose-your-own-adventure experience.
No matter what your history, circumstances, or thought patterns, you reach decision points that will change the outcome of your life all the time.
Your story is not already written. Just because you observe an attachment style in your relationships, scarcity thinking in your money mindset, and insight into childhood trauma, doesn’t mean those data points will determine the rest of your life.
Because in your life, as in the choose-your-own-adventure books, you have the ability to make decisions that will impact the direction of your story.
In fact, you have thousands of decision points.
Which means: thousands of opportunities to change the way you are thinking, feeling, and acting. Thousands of opportunities to change your experience. To change the trajectory of your life.
And the truth is, you are making decisions whether or not you’re doing so consciously.
Yes, even when you simply default to the familiar. This just means that you’re choosing your unconscious brain over your conscious one. You’re saying to yourself: I choose to allow my lizard brain to be in charge of my life. I accept whatever my unconscious brain decides. That’s the adventure I want to choose.
It IS a choice.
It doesn’t sound as comfortable when I put it that way, does it?
So why do you stay put?
Many of us choose to languish in the familiar – even when we feel miserable – because we’re afraid to make the “wrong” decision.
But there ARE no wrong decisions in life.
I know, it’s contrary to what we’ve been taught. Most of us believe decisions are a binary: they are good or bad, right or wrong.
And we think the way we will know if we made a right or wrong decision is how we feel. So we try to make our choices based on predicting how we will think and feel in the future. We think one choice will lead to happiness, while another will lead to despair. So we try to pick the one we think will leave us always feeling great.
But of course, that’s not possible. You will have positive and negative thoughts and feelings in the future no matter what decision you make.
And you will have to manage your mind on ANY adventure because you have a human brain.
I prefer to think of decisions as a branching tree. Each decision leads to more decision points, and each decision simply leads you to go on one adventure instead of another.
That’s great news because it means that no matter what you choose, you get to have an adventure. There is no “wrong” choice. There are only different experiences that unfold for you based on your decisions.
Rest assured: You will experience happiness and sadness, love and loss, day and night, regardless of what you choose.
So what if you just stopped agonizing over the “right” choice and instead chose the interesting one?
What if you stopped trying to forecast your future unconscious thoughts based on your choices now, and instead told yourself that any choice is just an opportunity to start an adventure?
You will learn something on any adventure. Any adventure will have good and bad components to it. No adventure is inherently better or worse than another, just different.
And because you’ll take your brain along on whatever adventure you choose, you will likely run into the same lessons no matter what you choose.
The most important lesson is that this is all a choice.
You can, of course, choose to keep thinking about your life as something outside your control, that you were predetermined to experience based on decisions other people made before you were even born.
You can think of it as a story that is half over and now can’t be changed.
Or, you can choose your own adventure.
You can start looking for opportunities to change the course of your own experience.
You can become the author of your own story.
You can choose how to think, feel, act, and react in any given moment.
And you can do so with ease and freedom, knowing there is no wrong decision to make.
There’s no “wrong” path to take or wrong story to write.
Any adventure you choose will be full of joy and sadness, struggle and triumph, and love and loss. You just have to engage with it.
And you will always learn whatever you need to know along the way, as long as you are willing to try.