Sunday, 31 May 2015

What next? School undermines our ability to choose so how do we learn to make a true decision?

One of the biggest issues we deal with in young people as they finished their exams is the sudden realisation that they are gaining control over their life - its direction and importance.

Not all 16-18 year olds realise this, and many adults have yet to realise it either! As we emerge from the constraints and conditioning forces of childhood, we are expected to rise to living a life of greater responsibility and know what we're supposed to be doing.

Most people run from the task. They hide from the need to grow up in various ways, but often in our tuition company we see it in young people and adults who remain in school and subject themselves to more exams. Note that it's not the love of learning that propels them forward or the sense of knowing their direction such as becoming a lecturer or getting the medical degree to share their love of health. No, they stay in because they're afraid of making choices and entering the market place of Choice, Action, and Responsibility - of getting in the CAR of life.

A side effect of eleven to thirteen years of formal schooling and being told what to do is a reduced ability to make choices. I hear it in my private practice regularly. The condition becomes gradually the norm until the young adult - or even older adult - finds it difficult to make a decision. And if you can't make a decision, it's impossible to take action.

Letting things happen is not taking action. Ignoring things is not taking action. That's taking inaction. We are either acting or being passive. Do we say yes to a partner because we're just going with the flow, or do we mean the YES? Do we say yes to the job offer because it's easy? Do we 'choose' to stay in school because it's the easy thing to do...Anything else would mean raising our consciousness and wouldn't that be hard work?

Of course. Action requires making a decision. Getting over some fears or at least pushing through them. Then doing something rather than just thinking about it.

Action is our means of improving ourselves and growing. When we 'do things' - such as a job or stay in college, we're not really taking action. We're following what other people tell us we should be doing or we just fall onto the path as it arises. That's not acting, that's not making a decision. Even if the pupil or adult says, "No, I really made a choice to go to university," we can ask why and check if there were any reasons or it was just something she thought she had to do. If we're met with silence, or "Why do you ask that?" we've encountered a lack rather than a direction.

Taking action means having a direction and for that direction to be authentic it must mean something to us. It must come from our heart - from our inner purpose. We're all here on earth for some reason. We were born to do something and each of us do something different from our peers - but what is it?

After so many years of being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it and being subjected to external critique in subjects and exams, our inner voice - our deeper purpose is often quietened. 

Few have the courage to do as Monty Roberts who was given an F for an essay on his life's dream by the teacher who said he should alter his dream: "You keep the F, I'll keep the dream." Wow. Few have that courage - but we can learn to listen to what we want to do and there are many techniques. My favourite is to ask myself at night, "What's my purpose?" Then the following day the answers come.

What's funny in my life though is that there are always many answers. Some people walk a clear path - they can see or learn to see how it unfolds and what they need to do: e.g., become a surgeon, accountant, or physiotherapist, etc. My vision is more of a multilane highway - several paths that reach outward: novelist, tutor, coach and mentor, academic writer, editor, public speaker. The highway is certainly headed in the same direction - to reach out and educate and help people. Each day, I have several lanes to choose from and this can be debilitating too for people like myself: we want to do it all and we want success from all at once. Which brings us back to - do ONE THING. What one thing can I do this year, this month, this week, this day, this hour that can help me fulfil my dreams?

That said, helping people rediscover their dream or to listen to their little boy or girl inside saying, "I don't want to be a vet, I want to be an actor..." and letting that voice get louder and louder until life matches purpose.

I asked a student not long after writing the first draft of this: in five seconds, tell me what you really want to do. Without hesitation: "Be a drummer." So be it. That was the subconscious speaking - then the look of concern flickered over his face - the years of conditioning, the stories of struggle and dreams not attained.

"What's the first hurdle you see in your mind?"

"What if the band I'm in is touring and the tour fails. We flop and break up?"

"You'll deal with that when it happens. But it won't happen unless you are a drummer. What's the next hurdle?"


"Sure. We all think about that. But what grows confidence?"


"Exactly. Putting in the time and getting out there. That's what I do. I have thoughts - so I write them up to share. My writing improved the more I did. My confidence is secure because I can do what I do. You will too. Listen to that dream and follow it."

Listen to the deeper voice, the quieter self, the purposeful self within. Remove the distractions and harken to the soul. Walk the silent woods, mellow in the calm bath, write and think without constraint.

See what dreams come forth and let the world listen.

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