Call the shots

New Straits Times - - Pulse | Living - 1. Re­view your past 2. Clear­ing past trau­mas 3. Make heart-based de­ci­sions

BELLA is the sort of girl one would la­bel as the “cool kid” in school. She wears her hair in a funky way, has her ears pierced and wears her school uni­form just a lit­tle shorter than all the other girls. She has a group of tightly-knit friends — her clique — whom she hangs out, plays tru­ant and gets into strife with. She’s bright but tends to hide her true self.

On the out­side, she dis­plays her re­bel­lious streak. But peo­ple don’t know that she, in fact, has a kind heart. It seems that she likes to drive away peo­ple who try to get close to her and en­joys pro­vok­ing oth­ers.

When I was able to dig deeper into Bella’s past, I dis­cov­ered that she turned out the way she did as a re­sult of her fa­ther leav­ing her when she was only 6. At that ten­der age when most chil­dren’s char­ac­ter traits are only be­ing formed, Bella could not fathom why her fa­ther had done so. She blamed her­self, be­liev­ing that she was not good enough. She also blamed her mother for not do­ing enough to en­sure that he stayed.

With this tem­plate in place, she grew up form­ing a fiery side to her char­ac­ter. Al­though the trait has served her well in her ca­reer in the cor­po­rate world, it has, how­ever, been detri­men­tal to her per­sonal re­la­tion­ships. Such is her fear of get­ting hurt and be­ing re­jected that she ends up turn­ing away a lot of po­ten­tial re­la­tion­ships.

There are two dis­tinc­tive sce­nar­ios to de­scribe how we re­spond to sit­u­a­tions — it is ei­ther re­bel­lion or con­form­ity. Sub­con­scious pro­gram­ming moves us to make de­ci­sions that are not al­ways for our greater good but rather a re­ac­tion based on past ex­pe­ri­ences, some­thing we may not even be aware of.

So if you find your­self mak­ing de­ci­sions based on re­bel­lious­ness, here’s what you can try and do:

PRAC­TICE MAKES PROGRESS

There are things that hap­pen to us in the course of our lives that end up shap­ing us into what we even­tu­ally be­come. Go­ing back to your child­hood days and re­call­ing de­ci­sions you made when you were pres­sured will give you an idea of how you made them and how that, in turn, shaped your life.

Re­view ma­jor de­ci­sions that you have made in your adult­hood as well. Did you make them out of fear of other peo­ple or were they based on the de­sire to con­form to what’s con­sid­ered “nor­mal”? All these re­sponses ac­tu­ally tell a tale.

Most trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ences dampen our spirit and im­presses upon our sub­con­scious a de­fault re­ac­tion to sit­u­a­tions. For ex­am­ple, if a child were to see his par­ents fight or sep­a­rate, he might end up vow­ing never to marry to avoid the same predica­ment from hap­pen­ing to him. Now this sub­con­scious vow can lurk in the back­ground some­where and as much as he may want to be in a re­la­tion­ship and start his own fam­ily, it can be hard.

So I en­cour­age you to look back and make at­tempts to clear past trauma so that you can ma­noeu­vre through your life chal­lenges eas­ier. If you find chal­lenges dif­fi­cult, seek pro­fes­sional as­sis­tance. When you can empty the emo­tional bag­gage that you’ve been car­ry­ing for years, you can then set your­self free from the lim­i­ta­tions you’ve un­con­sciously set on your life.

An im­por­tant as­pect of be­ing ma­ture comes from be­ing able to make heart-based de­ci­sions that are not in­flu­enced by ex­ter­nal sources, namely those made to con­form to so­ci­etal norms or peer in­flu­ences. It’s also ma­ture to move be­yond our own pat­terns and make an ef­fort to dig deep into un­der­stand­ing who we are and what makes us be­have in a cer­tain way.

When you can make de­ci­sions based on heart-felt re­sponses and not just rebel against some­thing, a whole new ex­pe­ri­ence can open up, en­abling you to be the unique per­son that you are. It’s lib­er­at­ing to call the shots in­stead of giv­ing in to our de­fault re­sponses and re­act out of our own in­ter­est.

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