Every day is full of decisions: what to wear, what to buy for dinner, which way to go, who to contact, when to take the dog for a walk … But while those ‘small’ choices might affect how your day goes, it is the big ones that have a significant effect on your life. To work out the choices you can realistically make, ask yourself which things are beyond your control, which are within your control or at least something you can influence. Then make the most important choice of all: to be in the driver’s seat of your life and exercise your free will wherever possible!

There are two main areas of choice: your inner life and how you are in the world.

Upgrade your inner life.

Most of our inner functioning is on auto-pilot. Thoughts come and go. Other people and events trigger reactions. Emotions rise and recede seemingly on their own. How we see ourselves is coloured by our ‘programming’ - the beliefs, values and ideas instilled by authority figures in our early life or later through the norms of the society we live in.

If you accept your inner state as it happens to be, you can easily sabotage yourself without noticing. Your power of self-regulation remains idle. To claim it, recognise what is really going on: your inner critic poisoning your thoughts, unchecked negative emotions, focussing on problems instead of looking for solutions or dwelling on the past and letting it determine your whole future life? But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many effective ways to take the reins for change and choose the energy of your inner life.

Take charge of the way you live.

Most of us don’t have complete freedom to do what we want and like. Many external restrictions clip our wings and limit our options. The fast pace of life also draws us into doing what is right in front rather than stopping and thinking about other ways of proceeding. But it is important to the make crucial choice between allowing pre-determined currents to carry us along or taking the initiative for a more deliberate response. Even if we can’t control or change a situation, we can choose how we see it, what we do and how we are in it.

Your choices may include modifying your expectations, giving up certain things, accepting imperfections, refusing to let stress overwhelm you, reviewing whom you trust and believe and how you spend your time, money and support. It may also include rearranging your priorities, formulating goals, making plans and choosing where to put your focus and attention and thus your energy.

According to ancient Hawaiian teaching, energy flows where attention goes. This is not an abstract concept but very practical wisdom: dwelling on impossibilities, hardship and pain will drain your vital life force, whereas focussing on your strengths, options and resources will lift you up and nurture your energies.

Become aware of how you tick. What determines your reactions? Are they really what you want? Or do you choose to view events with some degree of detachment and make conscious choices about how to respond?

It is much easier NOT to make your own choices. Self-responsibility can be very uncomfortable. But paradoxically, not choosing to do something is also a choice, albeit an unconscious one - that is the choice not to exercise your creative power. In practical terms this may mean for your inner life that you take your thoughts as facts - which they are definitely not! - accept your beliefs without challenging them and allow negative emotions to overwhelm you.

For your external life it might mean passivity, compliance and perhaps even unconscious acceptance of developments that are not necessarily in your interest. Only by choosing your own thoughts and actions wherever possible will you be able to create greater peace and calm within you, and a more satisfying and successful way of living.

Your first and most important choice is deciding not to accept the automatic processes within you but take charge of what you think and feel instead.

Who do you want to be? Reflect on your values. What are the standards you hold yourself to? What kind of inner and outer life is acceptable to you? Do they reflect who you know yourself to be in your essence? Create a vision of how you see yourself and contemplate the changes required to come close to it. Break them up into small steps, make a list and work on just one thing at a time.

Making choices is about manifestation. Claim your creative power and apply it to yourself and your life!

What are the key choices you have made in your life? What areas in your life would benefit from making new choices? What will you manifest?

Check out my new book "Recover, Rebuild, Thrive. A practical guide to moving on from difficult life changes" and free resources at www.christianastar.com

Author's Bio: 

Christiana Star (BA Hons Psychology, BA Hons Education) is a registered psychologist and author with extensive experience in private practice, as a corporate consultant, critical incident counsellor, trauma consultant and workshop facilitator.

Combining professional expertise with a spiritual outlook on life, Christiana specialises in creating self-help materials for personal growth, empowerment and mental health. Presenting complex psychological issues in an easily accessible way, her work is solution-focused and multi-disciplinary, offering new perspectives, insights, practical tips and easy strategies that can be applied straightaway.

Christiana has helped many people through her online articles, blog and a complementary ebook. Her latest book Recover, Rebuild, Thrive. A practical guide for moving on from difficult life changes offers comprehensive guidance for readers seeking to achieve personal transformation and success on their own terms.