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Updated: Oct 24, 2018

When they came for your power? Did give it away or did you fight to keep control of one of your greatest gifts, the freedom and the power to choose. This week we are looking at our power to choose and then choosing to make a choice. This week is about being empowered and knowing that this power allows you to choose the thoughts, people, and messages that you allow to consume your mind, take up your time and affect your spirit.

Let’s begin with your mind, the final frontier of privacy in an information age. It’s the place that you can store information and of that, choose what to share and what to hold. Choose to be thoughtful this week about what you share. My mentor once gave me great advice when I came to her lamenting my inability to control my big mouth at work. She said, “my dear, the choice is yours but you need to give yourself the time to think thoughts through before they leave your mind and exit your mouth”. Her advice was simple; before you speak ask yourself these 3 questions,

1. Does it need to be said?

2. Does it need to be said now?

3. Does it need be said by me?

If you apply this approach, not just in your professional role, but also in your personal life, you will find yourself using your mind, more than your mouth because you will see that the answers to these 3 questions will often be no, 3 out of 3 times. Taking a moment to think on these questions, considering them thoughtfully and then choosing whether to respond or to remain quiet, is empowering. You are no longer the victim of your own lack of mouth-control AKA verbal vomit. You maintain the power of privacy in the instances where it’s not always necessary that the whole company, (or person) knows exactly what you think on every subject. Take a breath and make a different choice.

Next Up…..Choosing people. Do you know how empowering it was for me when I realized that I had the ability to choose the people that I allow into my life and the amount of time and attention that I give to those individuals? There was a time that I felt powerless over my own life. I felt that every call must be returned, every message answered, every conversation initiated by another had to result in my being held hostage for the duration of time that they felt content to talk. Then I heard a sermon one day that freed my thinking on this topic. The preacher said, “time is not to be spent, so I don’t want you going around spending any more of your time. Time is to be invested because it is a priceless resource. You can earn more money in life, but you can never do anything to earn more time”. Wow, this made me realize that I was wasting a valuable commodity that I could never, ever regain, time. Now I am not saying be rude, I am saying be judicious. That sermon freed me from being held hostage in my driveway by the gossipy neighbor. It freed me from feeling compelled to listen to the negative co-worker. It also freed me from taking calls from friends who would call several times a day when they were free but I was not, a fact that they knew because I have had the same 9am-5pm work schedule for 20+ years, so why call me at 10am and 2pm to chat it up. I could now come up with a one liner and politely excuse myself from my nosy neighbor and negative colleague. I could ignore my friend’s call or better yet, answer it and say I’ll call you back after 5 when I get off or tomorrow after 5 when I get off. I was empowered to choose how I would invest my time. Freedom!

Lastly, Messages that you allow in.…you get to control those too. You get to not read the Facebook feed, ignore the tweet and disable the “chat” in a “snap”. You get to block the text, or not open the email. You have a choice, so choose to feed your mind and spirit with something healthy instead. The brain is not designed to be constantly bombarded and since you can’t control the content, chose to control what you can control and that’s the off button. If you have “that friend” who always wants to tell you about some new political drama, work place drama, relationship drama, mama drama, baby mama drama, yada, yada….take back control of your life and limit those negative messages too. There are some folk that I can only take in doses, small doses and only when I am up to it. I have my “not today” days. I won’t read and respond to that person’s email on “not today”. I won’t listen to that radio program. I won’t visit social media either. It’s my day, once per week to detox. Trust me, the drama will be there when you return. Those weapons of mass distraction will indeed be there. In the meantime, rejuvenate and think about that new cutie you just met or, that new lesson you want to take to do that new thing you were checking out, or that new book, song, rap or rhyme you want write. There are so many things you can choose to think about and do when your mind isn’t cluttered with negativity. Speaking of negativity, don’t fall prey to the detox drama of turning your negative thoughts from outward to inward. In other words, don’t detox to stop thinking about genocide across the globe, global warming or the drama in Washington D.C. only to turn it all inward and start picking yourself apart with guilt ridden, negative thoughts and insecurities. Controlling mental messages includes managing the things that one says to, and believes about oneself.

So this week, choose choice and see how freeing life can be when you are empowered to control your emotions by limiting what you let into your atmosphere. In doing so, you can choose your attitude and as such, your response. I’ll close with the popular saying by Charles R. Swindoll “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it”. This week….Be empowered to choose your reactions and make sure that you choose well. You can do it. I know it!

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