Watching people interact in their daily routines or actions, I wonder how different their parents acted. Based on the study of social programming, individuals do not differ from their predecessors characteristics unless they choose to act differently. The operative word (or action) is that of choice.
The majority of us actively choose each direction we take. There are very rare cases where our choices are made for us. Some choices are subconscious, others are deliberate. What force moves within you to direct your choices? Too often, our choices are made based on the examples we were shown as kids. Our parents’ characteristics shape our decisions, and in most cases, we are pre-programmed.
Truly, each of us is born with unique characteristics that separate us from our parents and yet it is them that we glean from the most. We adopt assets, flaws, styles, trends, etc from our parents and our society second. Our society includes friends, relatives, coworkers and even strangers. Early on in life, your choices were a direct result of the influence of your parents and immediate family, or the family that raised you. Later on, your choices become affected by external forces and it is in those times we find some of the most impactful options; choices that literally shape who we are.
Not surprisingly, some of our choices are regrettable. Most of the time, we move through our days with little thought to the choices we make. The obvious downside is the failure to comprehend how our choices affect others and even ourselves. The ripple effect of each choice we make, no matter how small, is worth taking note of every now and then.
We have all most likely heard the golden rule of doing unto others as we would have done to us. But living by that rule requires a focus that few people seem capable of possessing. I do not say this disrespectfully but more from an observatory perspective. And yet, isn’t it indeed a choice that we make to treat others a certain way? Some claim they treat others as they themselves have been treated, but again, that was a conscious choice.
In my life, I had to move hundreds of miles away from my family to affect my choices I was making. I chose to leave but it was because for so long, I had chosen to be a very arrogant and selfish person. When the opportunity came, I left not because it was necessarily the best thing I could do in my life at the time, but because I was selfish and arrogant; it was all about me and no one was going to tell me otherwise. All along the way I made choice after choice that would greatly impact my life but also the lives of my family and friends. Interestingly, I am still mending fences that I tore down nearly 20 years ago.
Ultimately, I had to make a choice to change. It was not easy and to be honest, I am still changing to this day, hopefully for the better. Even small changes can be difficult but part of maturation is learning what collateral damage will occur, if any, depending on a given choice. That might sound crazy; as if I am making life and death decisions that will affect my family, and yet, there are distinct choices we make that can either give life or tear it down. What I’m talking about is our choice of words.
Each of us has the ability to lift up or tear down the people around us based on the words we use. This is true each and every day and we would be wise to think before we speak, especially to those we don’t even know. The reason I say that is because those closest to you are considerably more apt to forgive than a complete stranger. This is not to say we are welcome to belittle our loved ones; quite the contrary. But I truly believe our attitudes are most evident when we are around people we don’t know. If you question that, just watch drivers in their responses to one another, especially in a parking lot around a major holiday.
The words we use are a direct result of a choice we make and are most arguably used based on the condition of our hearts. Let me say that a different way; the flow of your words will almost always match the flow of your heart. When you are in a good mood, your heart is happy and you use positive, life affirming words. When you are in a bad mood, you may lash out, using words that are hurtful. Some would contend that our heart condition was outside of our control but I will tell you that your choice of words in any situation remains a choice. It might not be easy to be cheerful when someone has hurt you and yet, it’s possible based on a choice. That is a decision that will impact everyone around you, depending on which direction you opt to go with your words.
Here’s what I have learned in my brief tenure in this life thus far; more than simply thinking before you speak, you must be aware of the power of your words. We must consider the person, the context, the situation and even the outcome before choosing which words, if any, to use. This isn’t about intellectualism or insightfulness, even though there is nothing wrong with either of those characteristics. This is about thoughtfulness; simply putting thought to your words before using them so that in doing so you will build up, instead of tear down. After all, it’s your choice.