February 26, 2007



Most people don't like being told what to think, how to feel or what to do because most people want to figure it out for themselves. It's a sign of independence and an exercise of free will. The choices we make help us decide how we want to live our lives, and are as personal as our thoughts, feelings and actions. We are making personal choices from the time we wake-up (What do I want to do today?) until we decide to go to bed (How much sleep do I want tonight?). Some choices are easy, others require deliberate thought or reflection. Sometimes, too, we decide to change our mind after having made a choice. The freedom to choose is a skill, and can be as simple as deciding between A, B or C, and as complex and meaningful as the commitment it represents.

Think of that uneasy feeling we may get when our doctor confronts us about how we may be neglecting our health and fitness levels. The doctor says, "You need to do X, Y and Z or A, B and C will happen to you." We may become defensive, given the authoritarian tone of the doctor's message. After all, given our freedom to choose, each of us is in control of our own destiny, whether that means paying attention to our health and fitness or neglecting it. Doctors who practice good bedside manner know that they can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. This means the doctor RECOMMENDS that we do X, Y and Z, based on clinical findings, thereby inviting us to become accountable for our own health and fitness. Instead of feeling defensive, we leave the doctor's office feeling emboldened with the courage to begin making some new choices on our own terms. The new choices we make represent a change-of-mind.

After having made a choice, there is always the option to change our mind. All of us have the right to change our mind and make new choices when provided new information that impacts what we think, feel and do. Sometimes, however, changing our mind can come back to haunt us if it takes on the appearance of a lack of commitment. Choice without commitment is like a renege. Lets move from the health and fitness realm to the political arena to illustrate the point: CHOICES ARE COMMITMENTS.

Taken from Letters To The Editor, Detroit Free Press, July 6th, 1990:


"President George Bush has more guts than I thought. That's probably why I voted for him. As I read his lips a couple years ago, he had promised "no new taxes." Now he is thinking about changing his mind. He has the right to change his mind. He has the guts to take that risk.For a moment I want to forget about values such as integrity and credibility. Right now I'm busy thinking about changing my mind, too. For example, for whom do I want to vote during the next presidential election? For me, it's contingent on how far President Bush wants to stretch his thinking on the subject of new taxes. Even though I appreciate the man for his guts, I resent his thinking at the same time for wanting to break a campaign promise."

[NOTE: Sometimes changing our mind works, sometimes it doesn't. Some people thought the presidential renege on a campaign promise (saying one thing, but doing another) contributed to daddy Bush being a one term president].

There are times when we make a choice and do not turn back. Jumping out of an air plane to sky dive is one example. There are other times we make a choice, but later change our mind. Either way, it's important to know that our choices are commitments. Ultimately, when we make a choice, or change our mind to represent a new choice, we are responsible for the thoughts, feelings and actions that underscore it.

Know yourself, trust yourself and CHOOSE YOURSELF because it is probably the most important choice we can make. It's a reflection of our ability to make an informed decision, based on who we are and what we want to become.

Written by,
Mark S. Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor

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