I was at a conference last week where one of the topics presented was on stress. The presenter was referring to an experiment from the 60’s in which rats were used to better understand what causes stress. The experiment drew connections between the rat’s ability to control the situation and the amount of stress they experienced.

The topic sparked a lively conversation in which one of the participants said “we all know control is an illusion.” 

I don’t agree. Unlike the rats you always have control and are always at choice. The question to ask yourself is what choices have you made which you are in denial about?

At one time I was on a busy career path working longer and longer hours. It was not unusual for me to be working 60 or 70 hours in a week. I was usually in meetings all day long, then spent long evenings getting through the other work I needed to complete.

At the time, I aspired to move up the corporate ladder. I saw working this hard as the price to pay for the advancement. In other words, I didn’t believe I had any choice.

What were the choices I was making, though? I was having migraines. My blood pressure was rising. I was tired and stressed. Was I trading my health for advancement in a job? Was I sacrificing my life for the sake of the company making more money?

These were choices I was making and they were causing me stress. It is choices like these which had me leave behind the corporate career path for this independent path I now wander.

I still find times I’m making a choice I hide with denial. It’s human to do so. The difference is when I feel the stress I remind myself I am always at choice and choose.

Thought of the week

The next time you find yourself thinking you don’t have a choice, remind yourself you are always at choice. Then, ask yourself what choice are you making?

It may not be easy to change the situation you find yourself in. However, if you are at least seeing the choices you’re making you will know the right thing to do.

Being at choice is one of the most beautiful parts about being human.