The Five Pillars: #2 The Power Of Agency
“Between stimulus and response there is a space.In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
- Viktor E. Frankyl
I'm realizing I have a page on this, but have not written a blog post yet on the concept called, The Model (stay tuned, but for now, check out the link!). It takes you through the internal human experience of any event in a very clear and simple way. Something happens, we have a thought about it, this creates an emotion, which leads to actions that create the life we have. In this entire sequence of: Circumstance, Thought, Emotion, Action and Result, there is only one thing we actually have direct control over, and that is our thoughts.
Did you know that on some level, you always choose your thoughts? It can happen in two ways: either after the thought arises, or before it is formed. If it is chosen consequently, or after the fact, then as the thought surfaces, you choose whether or not to accept or reject it. The other way, catching the thought before it actually surfaces, requires intention and anticipation and is generally a higher skill. But either way, Forethought or Afterthought…both are a thought and both require a choice, a choice that can only come from YOU inside your own head.
Another way of stating this is to say we have intentional and unintentional thoughts. You know how you can accidentally do something right sometimes? Say you can’t remember if you were supposed to turn right or left and in a moment of panic you choose right and it happened to be correct. Phewf! Well the same goes for our thoughts. Sometimes we just so happen to interpret people, places and things correctly, without much insight. When this happens, the thought just occurred to us and we say “Great” and move on. This is a lucky unintentional thought. Often there is very little friction and we tend to get along.
Sometimes, however, when we take the first thought that comes our way, it may be off, it may be wrong. This a dangerous forethought or “unintentional thought.” When this happens we can take things the wrong way, or interpret someone’s character unfairly and from that sentence in our mind, we end up feeling a certain way and act from it, often creating friction and distress. These are the thoughts that require review, that require discernment. These are thoughts that must be challenged because they inform our choices and consequently form our character. This is the responsibility of every single human, but I don’t think that we are taught this as children.
If I am in a situation where I feel I do not have the ability to be making choices for my life, I would argue that it is in fact because I have chosen to hand that power over to something or someone else. This may sound a bit terse or short sighted, but aside from physical violence or brute force, no one can convince us to do something without us assenting to it. Eleanor Roosevelt has the famous quote,
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Strong words, and I know I fought this in the beginning of my own coaching journey, but I tell you it's true and in that lies your freedom.
I am the only one who chooses the choices I make. I choose my life. I choose the way that I respond. Things happen, but it is how I choose to think about those things that determines my action, my level of ownership and accountability and that ultimately makes my story one of victim or victor.
Our power of Choice, our ability to choose, is our greatest superpower as a human being and is one of the ways in which I am made in the image of God who is all-powerful. It is one of the two powers of my soul.
There is a lot in life that we cannot control. We cannot control anything that occurs outside of ourselves including and especially other people’s thoughts, emotions and actions. There is a sphere of influence, but ultimately we must give them the freedom to make their own choices.
No one can ever make a decision for you inside your mind. If you feel they have, then you have given them the power to do so and in so doing, you have violated your dignity in allowing them to violate your own, and you can stop that cycle in an instant.
We are never off the hook. This is the gloriously good and awful news at the same time. I am the only one inside my mind. If I am in the midst of feelings of resentment, bitterness, anger, confusion or disgust, it is because of a thought I am thinking in my head. A thought that is an interpretation of what that person did or said, not WHAT they did or said - we have no control over that.
This is the beautiful things about mindset coaching. We have such a clear and effective way of getting to the root of unwanted behaviors and difficult emotions because we know they come from a thought in your head. The good news is, because of this fact, that we are the ones who have 100% agency over the thoughts in our head and our thoughts lead to the actions that create our life, then we actually get to be the ones that create the story of our life. A story of Victim or a story of Victor.
So what do you choose to choose today?
I am a Certified Catholic Mindset Coach through Metanoia Catholic. I help Christian women who feel discouraged with life find fulfillment and hope they desire by reworking limiting belief patterns with the tools of mindset coaching so that they can see the Truth of the Goodness and Beauty of who they are and how they were made.
If you feel you could benefit from coaching do not hesitate to reach out, I'd love to hear from you. And if anything has spoken to your heart or you have any questions in general about Catholic Mindset Coaching, sign up for a FREE Discovery Call on the Services page!
If you wish to get to know me better, check out my personal blog, Grateful Blessed Mess, at gratefulblessedmess.com for an inside view of my interior life, and don’t forget to listen in to the Grateful Blessed Mess Podcast when you get a chance! God bless!