The possibility of choice

ChoicesWe make choices everyday.

If you have ever tried to change a habit or begin a new habit, you know how hard change can be. Change demands us to make different choices. Even though we want something new and different, we witness ourselves not making the new choice. What’s up with that?

Some things that do not seem like choices might actually be choices.

Figuring out that I have choices over habits like my posture, my defensive reaction to things that I dislike, and my attraction to things I do like, has been a weird and challenging endeavor.  I don’t even know why I took up this endeavor, it seems like it “just happened.”  Was it really a choice? I don’t remember.

The possibility of choice.

I’m thankful for my split second biological reaction that gets me out of the way of danger before I even realize I’m in danger. I have caught up with myself, shaking on a side walk, a few times after somehow dodging an on-coming car. But it’s taken decades of trial and error to figure out that not everything I perceive as danger really is danger.
No one could convince me that I had a choice in my angry response to a stranger telling me to smile. But fortunately, I came to realize that I was always on the look out for a dangerous, humiliating interpersonal experience in social situations. Prior to figuring that out, I didn’t really feel like I had a choice about my defensive posture.
React or Respond?
Somehow, over time with the kindness of strangers, friends, and teachers, I was able to sink below my defense system and find a quiet place from which I could make choices. I found out that my defense system was MY defense system. Eventually, I learned how to find a few seconds between the impact of another’s behavior and my reaction. I slowly found my way to a place inside where I had the ability to make choices in my behavior and responses.

When I’m reacting, I am not really choosing.

The choice to not react has to come long before the moment of reaction. The decision to look within myself for the source of my agitated state of mind had to come before I could make conscious decisions in my responses and behavior.  Now I feel that the most important thing about making choices is that they are conscious choices. The more I practice this, the more I find that I do have choices over more things than I ever realized.

What do you think?

Use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.

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Cindy Black

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  1. Jessica on November 17, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Such a timely reminder for me Cindy! I feel so lucky to be able to partake in your thoughts and wisdom. Always striving for change towards being better, whatever that may mean. Thanks so much for putting yourself out here so the world and I can be inspired!

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac. on November 18, 2013 at 7:20 am

      Great to hear from you Jessica. Change is a challenging endeavor – onward we all go!
      Thanks for writing.

  2. marney on November 16, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    this is SUCH a wonderful post.
    it IS hard
    the habits are SO strong
    and it’s a great reminder that “my defense system is MY defense system”!
    oof that responsibility (respond-ability) piece is a big one to take on
    some things change so so slow
    it happens in time and with a lot of practice, i’m coming to see.
    thank you so

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac. on November 16, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Thank you Marney! We all need pals along this path – thanks for being one of mine.

  3. Christina on November 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Practice makes (not being) perfect easier :)))

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac. on November 16, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Thank you!

  4. Heather on November 14, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    It’s courageous to be aware of ourselves and how we react. I am realizing it gets easier for me the longer I practice. Meditation sure is my go-to practice for staying peaceful in challenging situations.

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac. on November 14, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      Thanks for your inspiration to meditate!

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