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Its All About Choice
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, December 2012

When we are obsessing about ourselves, we are taking ourselves away from the opportunity to enjoy what's happening NOW. Rather than relish a visit with a friend, we are concentrating on a matter at home; rather than valuing a visit with our family, we are obsessed with the thought of a past slight which was directed at us the last time we were together.

When we live our lives stuck in the past or focused only on the worry about the future, it becomes a personal burden and prevents us from being in the present moment. That is powerful and it can affect others around us with equal power. Aware or not, we spread a contaminating or toxic energy that these other people have to address. In order to do so, they need to deal with us and the consequences of our mood or perception or whatever. When we have a "meltdown moment" we often do not appreciate or realize the impact that has on others around us. When this negativity is released, it can pervade the experience, requiring others to work hard to preserve their own balance and presence so that they don't feel poisoned by our issue. How do they do it? By choosing how they respond.

There are many things that interrupt our daily routines or special occasions. We all have the ability to allow other people to go through their " stuff" without having it ruin our day. We can CHOOSE how we respond; we can choose how or whether it infiltrates and affects our health and well-being. With self-awareness and compassion, we can willingly say, "yes, I wish this were different. But this is how and what it is." We can respond in a way that is consistent with who we want to be. When we keep our emotional balance - knowing and accepting ourselves, living by and true to the values that are morally consistent with our beliefs, forgiving ourselves for being less than perfect, and caring for and about ourselves with compassion, we are better able to live and accept another as he or she is. We may be momentarily thrown for a loop and feel unable to restore our own balance. The people around us may, indeed, be living in such a way that it is virtually impossible for them to reap any pleasure out of anything that occurs in their lives. And that is real.

The question is how do we process this and be compassionate as well as centered and remain healthy -- able to appreciate the moment for what it is; learn from it; and take care of ourselves? We must choose whether we will allow someone or someone's reaction deplete us, or can we instead decide, "I feel for this person but they are not going to be able to affect me and ruin my life."

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