Our decisions shape our realities.
Getting this right is crucially important – as an entrepreneur, leader, parent, friend, partner, or just plain-old human being trying to get by.
Left to our own devices, we are driven by unconscious patterns learned from childhood.
As children, we watched and learned from our parents, and this dug deep grooves in our neurocircuitry.
At the core of this was a deep, unshakable need to be loved.
We learned how to deal with our emotions directly from the model set by our parents and caretakers.
We also hold onto patterns related to parental behaviors we want to reject – behaviors that caused us pain.
Whether adopting or rejecting parental patterns, we hold on to learned behavior that, if left to unconsciously drive our decisions, shapes the texture of our adult lives (learn more here).
It shapes our own parenting. Our career decisions. How we treat ourselves and others. Whether we view the world as safe or dangerous. It even shapes the intentions we ascribe to others (psychologists call this transference).
The result is that our lives are not consciously shaped by us, but rather, we are driven by our learned patterns.
In a sense, we sleepwalk through life.
This leads us to the same behaviors and attitudes that keep us from reaching our full potential, and from operating from a place of fulfillment, acceptance, and contentment.
There is, however, a different way to operate. What is learned can – with effort and intention – be fundamentally unlearned.
What would it look like, then, to not be driven by our learned childhood patterns? To not live our lives unconsciously?
The word that comes to mind is discernment.
Living a life of choice, a life of discernment, means that I – not my patterns – choose how to proceed, in each and every moment.
It is a life where I take the space to stop, breathe, and ask myself what my most pure, upright version of myself, would choose.
I visualize this a bit like the caricature from childhood cartoons – the one with a “good self” and “bad self” hovering over my shoulders, giving me divergent counsel.
I am the one that is watching that dialogue and it is ultimately me who has the responsibility to choose how to proceed.
What would your life look like if you consistently lived your life from a place driven by good decisions, and driven by your highest self, however you define it?
How would people in your life respond to you differently? How would you respond to your inevitable challenges and struggles differently?
Making good choices requires breaking the default neurocircuitry that drives unconscious decision-making based on your childhood patterns. It also requires ongoing commitment and practice.
Yet it is one that has the power to transform your company, teams, relationships, and sense of fulfillment of every day of your life.