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Pandemic Paradoxes Continue: Control v. Choice

Pandemic Paradoxes Continue: Control v. Choice

I’ve noticed I’m practicing shifting from control to choice a lot these days, as we begin to emerge from the year-long pandemic shutdown. The public health department is relaxing its severe controls over our daily activities and movements, and we have choices we didn’t have even a month ago. Do I feel safe celebrating someone’s birthday or wedding in person now? Will I get on a plane next month to visit my sister-in-law or will I choose to wait until later in the summer? Do I choose to hug my double vaxxed friends for real, not just the pantomimed embrace? Catch the moment; make a choice. – Janet Friedman Every moment has a choice; every choice has an impact. – Julia Butterfly Hill EXERCISE 1. Identify one (start small!) minorly vexing outcome or lack of outcome you would like to change. 2. Experiment with how you can perceive the dilemma differently, or respond to it differently; changing your behavior or attitude as circumstances change, too. 3. Reflect on how much you trust yourself to make new choices as circumstances change. 4. Celebrate wise choices, even when you’re not controlling the external situation. Resilience is not about being untouched by adversity or unruffled by difficulties. It’s to play an active role in how difficulty transforms you. - Kelly McGonigal, PhD, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You and How to Get Good at It.

Paradoxes of the pandemic seem as unending as the pandemic itself. The other day my thinking meandered into control v choice. One of our most natural biological and psychological tactics for dealing with uncertainty and the unknown is to try to nail things down. Anything to create stability and predictability. And to shape the outcomes as we wish them to be, as much as we can.

Sometimes that works, and we can be grateful/proud of our resilience and skill and effectiveness.

And when trying to control events/outcomes/other people doesn’t work, the next best thing, sometimes the better thing, is to choose our own attitudes and responses to the difficulty we are dealing with.

[People who are resilient] believe that no matter what the circumstances, they must continue making choices – ones that could change the situation, or, if that isn’t possible, that could change how the situation affects them.

– Kelly McGonical, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You and How to Get Good at It.

Of course, easier said than done. We do everything we can to control/change the circumstances. That’s the pro-active, show-up, empowered thing to do. And when that doesn’t work, we shift to the next best thing we can do, which is to shift our own perceptions and responses to the circumstances.

How you respond to the issue…is the issue. – Frankie Perez

I’ve noticed I’m practicing shifting from control to choice a lot these days, as we begin to emerge from the year-long pandemic shutdown. The public health department is relaxing its severe controls over our daily activities and movements, and we have choices we didn’t have even a month ago.

Do I feel safe celebrating someone’s birthday or wedding in person now?  Will I get on a plane next month to visit my sister-in-law or will I choose to wait until later in the summer? Do I choose to hug my double vaxxed friends for real, not just the pantomimed embrace? 

Catch the moment; make a choice. – Janet Friedman

Every moment has a choice; every choice has an impact. – Julia Butterfly Hill

EXERCISE

1. Identify one (start small!) minorly vexing outcome or lack of outcome you would like to change.

2. Experiment with how you can perceive the dilemma differently, or respond to it differently; changing your behavior or attitude as circumstances change, too.

3. Reflect on how much you trust yourself to make new choices as circumstances change.

4. Celebrate wise choices, even when you’re not controlling the external situation.

Resilience is not about being untouched by adversity or unruffled by difficulties. It’s to play an active role in how difficulty transforms you.

– Kelly McGonigal, PhD, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You and How to Get Good at It.

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