by Lance D. Smith
One of the greatest debates among spiritual philosophers, religious fundamentalists, and traditional psychologist is to what extent do people create their own reality. At one end of the debate, they say we create 100% of our reality. At the other end, our lives are pre-determined whether through karma, fate, or destiny.
In the book and movie, “Forrest Gump,” Winston Groom, the author ponders the idea of which one steers our lives, free will or destiny. The main character says, “I think they both are happening at the same time.”
After years of exploring spiritual and religious philosophies, and people watching, I have my own ideas about this. Forrest was close. Here is my take.
We create 100% of our experiences of reality. Read a little closer. We create 100% of our experiences of reality. In other words, I am not debating if we are the creators of reality, but we are absolutely the creators of our experience of reality.
You may not “create” a terrible car wreck, or the death of a loved one. But you absolutely have a say to what the experience means, who you become, and your actions within in them.
If you are not aware of the power of choice, it is easy to make matters worse. As more circumstances show up, you gather evidence to support your experience based on your beliefs and judgments. This entrenches you further within your experience. So, as the old saying goes, “When it rains it pours.” The travesty is that most of us don’t realize we have choices that determine how we experience events in our lives.
Growing up, I remember twin brothers that moved in down the road. Their father wasn’t around much. Then one day he was gone and shortly after they moved away. I ran into one of the twins not long ago. After some catching up, he told me their father was a career criminal and died in prison. What was more interesting was this twin became a lawyer while the other was in prison! Both credit the way their lives turned out, opposite as they are, due their experiences around their father. He told when he visited his brother in prison they shared a laugh because they both have said, “With a father like I had, what would you expect from his son?” Each twin created very different experiences from a nearly identical reality.
I have seen it time and time again. Someone comes down with a disease that devastates them. While another, having the same disease, as bad as it was, told me is the best thing that ever happened to him. He admitted he wouldn’t wish the disease on his worst enemy, but it literally saved his life, his marriage, and his relationships with his children. To one, it meant the beginning of the end, while the other meant a new beginning.
How do we employ choice in our lives? We start by slowing down and finding non-judgmental awareness in our “realities.” Many things, for instance, we make about us that are not about us at all. Many people don’t realize how much effort they put into creating their experiences. They choose without realizing they even made a choice. But it takes work to frown, scream, and flail emotionally. But the moment you decided to do different and not fall into that role, you will see choices present themselves.
There is no ONE GIVEN WAY experiences are lived by people. If that were so, we all would have the same realities, experiences, thoughts, desires, and judgments.
If you are a parent and have ever watched your child compete in a sporting event, I guarantee your experiences from the game are much different to you than others there. Even with the most honorable intentions, it is difficult to “remove” yourself, your wishes, or desires as a parent to separate yourself from the game(s). Everything means so much more. Each small turn of events can be more intense and amplified, more so to you than anyone else. And often, it is more intense to you than your child who is playing the game!
Hindsight shows us that events are not as significant as we once thought, while they were occurring. It is not that time is the ultimate healer, but literally, we make higher choices about past experiences because our choices come from a safer place: a place shielded by layers of time.
Sure things happen that are emotionally tough. I don’t deny that. But remember, you have a choice in how you will experience an event. Not just while they occur, but we can choose before, during, or long after as to their meaning.
I try to avoid clichés but this one speaks so clearly to support this point. You always have a choice therefore, If someone gives you lemons, you make lemon-aide.
When we were created as human beings, we were given choice, free-will, a gift of consciousness. Our actions are not dictated by instinct, but by choice. And how you choose to do life in each moment is ultimately is up to you.
“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat
everything as a nail.” Abraham Maslow
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