The Self-Connection Podcast: S1 E 11 : Choices as Resources

This episode was inspired by a quote from Virginia Satir that is: “Your ability to create is based on your ability to choose.” Virginia focused on helping people become choicemakers, which means people who could be aware of themselves and make conscious growth-oriented choices that were positively directed towards themselves, others and their environment. Sharon and Tim talk about the importance of choosing to engage in conversations that involve the whole Self as an important means of coping and growing through difficulties. 

0:15 We start with a mediation that focuses on making choices and relaxing the body and appreciating oneself.

7:00 we begin discussing the topic for today of choices as an important resources with coping with the recent mass shootings in the United States.  

9:00 Sharon discusses Thomas Abt work related to mass shootings and his book, “Bleeding Out” In this book, Thomas Abt discusses different categories of gun violence. Sharon is about to publish a book with people who have been incarcerated and who have chosen to turn their life around. She makes the connection that there are different categories of choices. She talks about mini-choices of how we deal with events on the outside, internal choices of how a person is treating themselves moment by moment, and there are fundamental choices. In her work with and in collecting the stories of people who had turned their lives around, they made fundamental choices which seemed to have a common spiritual element that has stayed with them.

12:30 We discuss the relationship between fundamental choices and beliefs as they relate to one’s orientation to life and the nature of human beings. The beliefs we choose to hang out to can influence our actions and what we are creating in our life; whether we are oriented towards life and growth or destruction and death.

13:50 We discuss the iceberg metaphor as a way of understanding how our power to choose interacts with all levels of our experience. We can choose what we do about our experience. We can choose what we do with our perceptions, expectations, rules, etc.

15:30 We can think about making choices around the primary ways that we experience life. Some people are deeply connected to their feelings and others to their cognitions. Our dominant orientation can become the arena from which to make choices and to empower oneself

16:45 Tim discusses the importance of not identifying oneself with a particular choice at a moment in time, but rather to identify oneself with the ability, capacity, resource of being able to make choices. Thinking about choices as a resource; rather than identifying oneself with specific choices, frees us to explore and to learn and to strengthen our ability to choose. 

Choices represent the best we could do with the information, experiences and strength we had at a moment in time. The outcome of a particular choice is not the Self.

I have choices about all aspects of my experience because my experience belongs to me.  

18:15 Sharon shares that people often believe that their perceptions are facts and are not aware of the extent to which their perceptions come from an interpretation of facts/events. 

“Only when we come to a place of process with each other that we are going to be able to talk to each other.” 

This meaning only by helping each other come to an understanding of how we arrived at our perceptions and beliefs can we find peace. This dialogical process is the key. 

When we are locked into defensiveness and rigidity then we can not engage in this kind of process.  

22:40 We discuss the difference between the Whole Self and parts. Certain parts can be tied to defensive patterns related to fighting, flight and freeze which create set patterns of behaving that make it impossible to engage in dialogue with each other. The process then needs to be based on engaging in Whole Self together in communication with one another. 

24:00 Attachment in a particular worldview, perception or ideology necessitates a defensive wall psychologically or that prevents new information from coming in. 

What are the choices that people can make to help get them out of locked-in positions and engage in a healthy dialogue that moves all towards life? 

24:30 Sharon shares that she experienced going into a shame part and feeling like she wasn’t doing well with our conversation today. Sharon explained that she could feel the difference in her connection to herself when feeling shame and embarrassment, but that when she heard Tim use the phrase “Whole Self” she was able to come back and be present to the conversation and feel open and feel supported together. Sharon could give space to the part that felt shame and not let it be in the driver seat anymore. 

26:30 We discuss the importance of a safe, trusting relationship which gives us both the freedom to comment on the here and now process of our conversations and the ability for both of us to take risks. Tim shares that all these elements are different choices: the choice to comment and also a fundamental choice: how am I going to be? Am I willing to be vulnerable? To take a risk? For example, I want to be someone who can check out his and other perceptions. With these resources, we can be better equipped to work on solving problems together. 

28:15 We talk about the overarching them of Self-connection and that Sharon’s ability to connect to her experience of shame and to express it occurs because she has the wisdom to know that she is not her shame. Not being identified with it empowers her to process and cope with it. Without this wisdom, it is easy to get overwhelmed and wrapped up in identifying with shame. 

28:50 A fundamental choice is the deep inner knowing that “I am of value and matter at the level of my Whole Self” and “I can feel what I feel without becoming identified with it” 

30:00 A central theme that all human beings are confronted with is a sense of ‘Do I matter?” Sharon described her research into the characteristics common to perpetrators of mass shootings. These included: having a grievance, having family pain, seeking glory. How can we help people deal with their pain other than killing? Whether that means suicide or homicide.

33:15 We talk about the importance of containing healing the difficult emotion of anger and resentment that can result in the actions of vengeance/revenge.

34:40 When we are lost in an emotion like anger or resentment, we are likely lost in our ego or small self or a part of self and disconnected from our Whole Self. A challenging emotion like anger can also isolate individuals. 

35:57 In the face of tragedy and violence, it is challenging not to get lost in our reactive survival patterns, our limited ego, and to stay connected to our Whole Self, our wisdom. Engaging in the process of authentic dialogue and speaking from the Whole Self is an important way of coping, healing and dealing with the pain of tragedy. 

37:00 Sharon proposes that it is important for boys/men to be able to identify the feelings underneath the anger. If they are not aware that there are underlying emotions under the anger, which then limits their ability to be self-aware and to make choices to get their needs met. 

 39:30 What are the ingredients that empower someone to become a congruent choicemaker? Some beginning ideas are sense of responsibility, self-awarenesses, love, connection to Self/Will, creativity, and one’s values.