The Quality of Our Lives is Determined by the Quality of Our Choices: Learning How to Make Healthy Relationship Choices
I read a quote from Anthony Robbins a couple of weeks ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I suppose when you hear something and it rings true for you, your entire being stops and takes notice. The quote was:
“It’s not what we do once in a while that counts, but our consistent actions. What ultimately determines who we become and where we go in life? The answer is, our decisions. It’s in these moments that our destiny is shaped. More than anything else, our decisions, not the conditions of our lives determine our destiny.”
This says basically that the quality of our lives is determined by our choices – our consistent choices – not the family we’re born into, not the body we have, or even how much money is in our bank accounts. It’s the tiny little decisions we make each and every moment, throughout our day that is responsible for the state of our lives.
Even something as simple as what am I going to have for breakfast can cause a ripple effect on our behavior for the rest of the day, week, or even month. Do I choose the yogurt and fresh fruit, or do I opt for the yummy pancakes with some of Aunt Jamima’s finest? If I chose the latter, I can then justify having that muffin for a snack, since I’ve already declared today a “cheat” day. If I consistently make choices like that, my body and my health will reflect those choices.
As well as our health, the day to day choices we make also shape the state of our finances and even our relationships. Take for example, someone like actress Lindsay Lohan. She has looks, money, talent and all the opportunity in the world. The reason she lives her life on a consistent roller coaster, never knowing what will come at her next, are the choices she makes. Her life is unstable because she consistently makes poor choices.
Troy Polamalu is a professional football player for the Pittsburg Steelers – but to most, he is the guy with the long, dark curly locks in the Head and Shoulders commercials. He is also a devout Orthodox Christian and a happily married man. In an interview he did with 60 Minutes, he spoke of his approach to all of the temptation that surrounds professional athletes. In the interview he said, “I’m not going to sleep with the first girl I see.” He explained that you don’t usually go into something with bad intentions, that it’s all about the little decisions you make along the way.
For instance, someone’s husband may start out saying hello to the cute neighbor down the street, then next thing you know they’re having a conversation. That conversation leads to a few more conversations, which leads to a divulging of personal information. A trust builds, suddenly you’re having coffee to discuss something your wife did that pissed you off. Now that neighbor is your friend and confident. She then gives you sympathy and a warm shoulder …. We all know where this is going – no one intended to have an affair out of the gate, when they first said hello. It’s these little choices that seem innocent enough that need to be treaded the most delicately.
The same rule of thumb applies with a toxic relationship that you’re trying to extricate yourself from. Suddenly, we get a little text message that says, “I miss you,” and it’s at this point that we have a choice to make. You may have been doing great, going no contact for weeks and suddenly you feel a pang of weakness and your mind starts going where you know it shouldn’t. It’s at this point where you have to stop yourself and think about the consequences of each of your decisions. If you respond, you’ve let them back in the door, your Narcissist has confirmed that you still want them and step by step they are back in your life again, and you’re back in the same position you were in before you had the courage to walk away.
When we make a choice, we open ourselves up to the consequences of that choice and we find ourselves swimming in the ripple effect of those decisions. We all make small decisions and big decisions every day. The key is that when you find yourself in the midst of making an important decision that will have a significant effect on your life you have to pause and ask yourself a few questions?
Is this decision good for me? Your mind, body and soul know when you are making healthy choices. Remember that when you are dealing with a highly charged emotional decision the question isn’t: What do I want to do? Or, what does my heart want? Because we know that if you’re involved with a Narcissist what you’re hoping for isn’t possible and that you can’t trust your heart in this situation. With toxic people we have to revert to logic and by stopping and taking a moment to reflect on the consequences of your next action, you can make a better healthier decision, by making choices that are in your best interest and not just acting on emotion.
How does this benefit me long term? Develop the ability to see the bigger picture. When that text message comes in, or we think about responding to the voice message, pause and reflect on the idea that any contact on your part always has the possibility of sucking you back into to an unhealthy and abusive situation.
When we really want to, we can justify just about anything. We can come up with every excuse in the book to break no contact, or run into someone accidentally-on-purpose. Remember what you feed grows, so anytime you keep adding water to a justification it gets bigger and bigger, until we can’t see anything but our justification.
It’s all about nipping these early innocent looking decisions right in the bud. It’s all so easy, too easy to say, “well I’ll just text them to let them know their gloves are still here,” It always seems innocent enough, but if you are really being honest with yourself what you are really doing is looking for a reason to stay invested. You’re looking for any shred of interest, hope or tid-bit. When something is over and it’s been really hard to get you to that place of acceptance, for the love of God don’t blow all your hard work on a moment of weakness and a poor choice. Win the small battles in your mind before you’ve got Godzilla walking around in there creating all kinds of havoc.
Weaning yourself off of a Narcissist is akin to a recovering drug addict. So you’ve got to take your recovery in the same vein. You’ve got to take it minute by minute. Just make the right choice this minute – then make the right choice in the next minute, then the next hour, then the next day.
There are biological components to our choices, there are emotional components to our choices, but the beauty of choice – is that despite all of these things we can make it one way or the other regardless of our physiological leanings. We can crave sugar, but choose not to eat it, in the exact same way that we can crave affection from a Narcissist, but choose not to make contact.
It’s in the most difficult moments when our discipline and our resolve is tested. We all have free will, we all have the ability to justify our behavior, but when you find yourself in the midst of making a crucial decision pause, ask yourself the important questions, reflect on the possible consequences and make the right choice.
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