Dr Stewart Hase - Psychologically Speaking

The choice is yours

Forrest Gump quipped that Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what youre going to get. I think youll agree that this aphorism is pretty right and we need to be ready for absolutely anything in this life even losing the Ashes again!

Life is like a box of chocolates in another way. If you have a full box then you have lots of options and can happily make a choice. Just make sure you leave the chewy caramel one for me you can have the crunchy nut things that get stuck between my teeth. But if there is only one choc left, then your options are much less: eat the remaining chocolate even if it isnt the one you want; dont eat it; or go find another box.

A friend of mine mentioned at the weekend that in her work she is getting a little tired of people around her being victims when things dont go their way. It is tiring because dealing with victim behaviour is really hard work. Victim behaviour involves blaming others, becoming very self-oriented, looking down a tunnel rather than to the broad horizons and basically becoming paralysed. The emotional reaction is mostly a mixture of anxiety and anger, and it is the anger that others receive.

I think that victim behaviour is really about Gumps chocolates. It involves not seeing that there are options and, so, there is no sense of choice. Basically we cant make choices if we think there are no options. We then become stuck, unable to move backwards or forwards. It is important to realise that this is all a matter of perception.

It is useful to recognise that there really are options, no matter what the situation. We can decide to leave things the way they are and not do anything; we can leave the situation; or we can attempt to change things. Then it is a matter of making a choice between these options. There are consequences, of course, to all of these and choosing may not be easy. Leaving might mean huge changes, risk, learning new things. Changing things might mean shifting attitudes, managing personal behaviour, doing things differently, taking deep breaths and turning away, changing self, confronting others and having those difficult conversations. Not doing anything might mean that the chocolates melt before our eyes and then there is nothing left. But sometimes people make this choice, since it seems much easier than the other two options.

Mostly whatever we choose means hard work, and some pain and suffering. But my experience is that most people somehow get through it and enjoy tremendous new learning and new lives even through catastrophic change. And making a choice seems so much better than standing there with a squidgy, melted mess dripping on a nice white carpet.


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