Home ContentThe Power of Choice - The Yellow Brick Road to Success and Happiness

The Power of Choice - The Yellow Brick Road to Success and Happiness

Published : December 19, 2015

Do women today have too many choices? Certainly we have more choices than women even one generation ago, but how is it that we fail to recognise the myriad of choices available to us, and maybe even fear them? How is it that we might even believe we have “no choice”?

by Pauline Watkins


The truth is, we always have choice, but often our situation hinders us from seeing those choices.  Remarkably, in those situations we seem often only able to conceptualise choices which would lead to unpleasant consequences (we think) and so we make no choice at all.  And yet by doing that we have indeed made a choice:  to keep tolerating an unsatisfactory situation! 


The only way we can move forward in this life is to keep making choices that take us in a direction, not choices that keep us where we are!  By having a clear perception of where you want to go, and by constantly making choices that support that direction, we can have a life that is more than merely satisfying, but in fact a life that gives us as much success and happiness as we could desire.


So indeed, life is all about choice!  And the correct approach to goal clarification and choice will propel you almost effortlessly into a more fulfilling life, with choice in each and every moment.


As a coach, this is a process I’m privileged to share with my clients as they step through their own individual journeys of empowerment with choice.   There is a story I often tell to my clients at the beginning of our work together, to help them to understand how easily even big changes can happen.


How Bella Moves from Helplessness to Choice


Bella was an amazing, bubbly person and very successful in many of areas in her life.  She always seemed so bright and positive.


Each day Bella went to her favourite café on the corner for her morning tea. One morning she arrived only to find that all the tables were full.  Bella quickly scanned the café for a table that she could squeeze on to.  Over in the corner there was a table with only one person sitting on it.  Bella decided to approach the lady sitting there and ask if she could share the table too.


“Of course” the lady said, smiling towards her.  “By the way my name is Velvet.”  “Oh, pleased to meet you, and I’m Bella.”


The waitperson came to their table and Bella placed her order. They soon began to chat (you know, just the way we do).  Bella sensed a kind of wisdom in Velvet that she admired, and before long she began pouring out her deepest wish, which was to be able to fit into a collection of clothes she had not been able to wear for some time due to the weight gain that had gradually crept up on her.


She’d tried diet after diet, and even joined a gym, but somehow just couldn’t stay motivated.  Whatever hard-earned progress she made, the weight just poured back on.  She felt helpless, a failure.


Velvet sat for a moment, pondering just how she could enable Bella to set herself free from that negative emotional state that was causing so much distress, and was probably also at the cause of her weight problem!


With practised ease, Velvet began a process she’d been through many times, with many of her coaching clients.  “I’m curious Bella.  Tell me, what exactly are you feeling right now, in this very moment?” 


Bella replied, surprised at the question “I’m feeling really frustrated.”


“And Bella, when you feel really frustrated, as you are right now, what is it that you’re saying to yourself?”


After a moment’s thought Bella said “I’m saying to myself (this is head chatter!) ‘I wish I could fit into those clothes, because after all I used to fit into them once.’  And that I should be more mindful of what I eat and drink.  And then I just blame myself and feel even worse. ”


“Bella, on a scale of one to ten how intense is this feeling?”


“Mmmm  it feels like it’s around a 6 to me and you know, I can actually feel it sitting like a heavy lump in my stomach”, Bella replied, gesturing to that spot.


“I’m wondering”, said Velvet “how this is serving you?”


“I’m sorry, what do you mean” said Bella, sounding confused.


“Bella, I almost always find that when we get stuck in doing things that seem to be almost against our free will, there is usually something we’re getting out of being that way.  Honestly uncovering that can provide us with enormous insight, and also motivation  -- if we just know where to look.  What’s the ‘payoff’ for having this problem?”


This question stopped Bella in her tracks as she thought about the consequences of not paying attention to her nutrition and not taking time out for exercise.


“Well, I guess I get to lie on the couch and chill out after a busy day.  I eat at my favourite places as often as I like, and I don’t have to blinkingwell exercise! And what’s more I don’t even have a partner in my life because I feel too embarrassed to go out.  It’s just not fair.”


“Well!” exclaimed Velvet pulling herself back up in her chair.  “It’s great that you’ve been able to get all that out!!  Bella, I can see and hear that there’s a lot of emotion there for you, and it’s important to realise that as long as those emotions rule you, you’ll be unable to make the choices that deep down you really want to make.  No wonder you’ve not been able to make healthy choices about your lifestyle!”


“Bella, I’d really like to show you that you can change those emotions any time you want, and that then you’ll find it very easy to live the lifestyle you want, and lose that weight, and get out and find that partner!  Is that OK with you?”


Bella looked stunned.  “Change my emotions?”


“This is something I do with most of my clients.” explained Velvet.  As a coach I work with a variety of people, often on motivational issues as well as strategic issues.  Most people don’t realise how their emotions control them.  And almost no-one knows how easily that can be changed.  It’s always quite a transformation!  Bella are you ready for a transformation?  Shall we do this?”


Bella looked up and with real commitment in her voice said “I’m ready”.


“Good.  Now you and I are both very familiar with the negative emotions you’ve been feeling.  At times like this it can be very difficult to access more resourceful feelings.  This is a technique that will put those resourceful feelings ‘on tap’ for you to have anytime you want.  But first we need to really remember and experience a feeling of being super good about yourself.  A time when you felt strong, powerful even.  A time when you were making great decisions about your own life, and really feeling in control.  A time when you were living life on all cylinders!  When is the last time you really felt like that!”


“Wow!” said Bella.  “The last time I felt like that was about 10 years ago. I felt pretty invincible in those times.  I was confident, I had a real plan going on in my life, and everything seemed so bright in my future.   I remember a particular time coming out of a client’s office after I’d just negotiated a huge deal!  I was in this really trim suit, I looked great, I felt great, and I was having the time of my life!”


“Fantastic!” said Velvet.  “That’s exactly what we’re looking for and that’s exactly the feeling you’re going to be able to recapture again and again any time you want.  And this is how.  Bella I want you to really take the time to mentally re-experience that moment when you stepped out of your client’s office after winning that deal, feeling great, looking great, and having the time of your life.  I want you to actually do that three times, and each time, as you’re coming close to the absolute peak of that fabulous feeling, just take the tips of a thumb and finger and briefly bring them together, quickly separating again and breaking away from that feeling.  Do that now Bella.”


Velvet watched as Bella went through the process, noting with pleasure how each time Bella returned to that fabulous feeling, each experience seemed to build more powerfully on the last.  Finally Bella finished, and taking a deep breath and with eyes glowing, looked expectantly at the woman who’d just guided her through this amazing experience.


“Good work!” said Velvet.  “Now are you ready to experience how different life becomes when you can access that anytime you want?”


“Absolutely!” said Bella.


“I’m going to ask you some questions, and each time, as you answer me, connect those same fingers together, with that same, brief contact.  …. So what was it exactly that you wanted to be able to do?” Velvet asked with a smile.


Connecting her fingers, Bella replied “I want to lose weight and be toned.”


“Where specifically do you want to lose it from?”


“From my hips, thighs, waist and tummy.”


“What will doing this allow you to do?”


“Get out and find that perfect partner!”

“Bella, how would you describe that perfect partner?”


Connecting those fingers, as she had for each question, Bella replied “Good question!  My perfect partner would be kind and caring toward me, but would also challenge and expand me (I love the thought of learning and growing together).  At the same time my perfect partner would be accepting and understanding of me, and appreciative of me.  And of course I’d feel the same!”


“When you achieve all this, Bella, tell me what will it be like, what are you seeing, hearing, and feeling?”


Bella responded with her enthusiasm building, still connecting her finger and thumb as she’d been directed, “Well actually I’m seeing myself exercising and being active!  It just seems to ‘fit’ now!”


“So could this be part of a plan especially for you?”


“Yes, definitely” said Bella. “It feels like it already is my plan.  And you know I’m feeling kind of calmer in my mind too.”


“So you haven’t got that chatter in your head anymore?”


“No, it’s stopped, and when I think about talking to myself, I find I can actually hear myself reading the labels in the supermarket!” Bella laughed.


“I’m curious Bella, how specifically will you know for sure when you’ve achieved your outcome?  What would be the ‘proof’ that you had got what you wanted?”


“Velvet that’s easy.  I’ll fit into those clothes I talked about, and I’ll feel really comfortable and confident physically, and I’ll be getting out and about, and I’ll have a sense of being open to a new relationship.”


“And Bella, if you have all of this, if you’re wearing those clothes, if you’re feeling really comfortable and confident physically, if you’re getting out and about and are open to that new relationship ….. is there any part of you that doesn’t want this?”


“Oh no, I feel like I want this with every cell of my body!”


“Bella I’m really interested in exactly how you’re going to go about this.”


“Well the first thing I think I need is to get a food and exercise plan going.”


“Would it help if we did a time management chart?  Most people find that an easy, step-by-step plan for change works much better.  Really this is to key to permanent change, and to having a great lifestyle both personally and professionally.”


“Brilliant, Velvet  -- really it’s so obvious that’s what I need, but I’ve never done anything that comprehensive before.”


“I’m glad you agree, and let’s make a time to do that together.  Tell me Bella, now that you’ve had this experience, when you look back on how things used to be, how does that seem to you now?”


“I find it difficult to imagine how I could have lived my life like that.  It seems really curious!”


“And so what do you think was happening, and what’s the difference now?”


“I think I was really a victim of emotions that weren’t helpful!  I didn’t want to feel that way because I’m a positive person, and I’ve always thought of myself as a strong person, but I just couldn’t seem to shake those feelings.”


“You’re right about that.” said Velvet.  “It’s absolutely impossible to change your feelings through willpower or ‘positive thinking’.  That’s one approach that never works for long, if at all!”


“But what you’ve shown me”, said Bella, “has sure changed all that.  Before, I’d get a certain feeling, and that would create a certain attitude, and that would control my behaviour!  Now I can choose my feelings, and choose my attitude, and choose my behaviour.  It’s all, literally, at my fingertips, and I can choose!”


How Bella Gained the Freedom of Choice


As you read Bella’s story, you probably wondered about the nature of change, and why we seem unable to make important changes on our own.  Why does it take someone to point out the obvious?!


The answer is that it’s not so obvious.  Most people who want to make changes, but can’t, are experiencing internal states (emotions) and using thinking styles that keep them stuck.  Looking out on the world through the filters of their own blocks, they are literally blind to the path they need to take to enable them to choose from amongst all the opportunities around them.


It takes solid training and expertise to be able to guide individuals through this process quickly and safely so that they make those changes, and move toward their goals in a way that is far more likely to succeed.


The elements of this process can be applied to any situation where more clarity, and a more resourceful approach is required:


  • Leadership
  • Career change
  • Setting up a business
  • Strategic planning
  • Transition experiences
  • The criteria around a new relationship
  • A promotion at work


In all of these situations, the choice can be yours, if you are willing to take that first step.



About the Author


Pauline Watkins is a Creative Personal and Business Coach/Consultant who works with individuals and corporations to facilitate easier, safer, and faster development of personal and business goals.  She may be contacted on solutions@universalcoach.com.au.

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