Author, Life Coach, BPD/Mental Health and Self Improvement Coach, A.J. Mahari, host of The Psyche Whisperer Radio Show interviewed Dr. Karen Sherman, author of the book, “Mindfulness and The Art of Choice”, who is a New York State licensed psychologist, has been in private practice for over 20 years on Monday June 6, 2011 at 7pm Eastern. Now, Dr. Sherman is taking her experience to the public, making her Art of Choice workshops and seminars available to groups and organizations rather than just to private clients. Additionally, she teaches individually designed adult education courses, catering to the specific interests and learning styles of the people who seek her expertise.
Drawing on personal experience as well as academic training, she relates to a much broader arc of life situations than most. “For many years, my life was an emotional roller coaster,” Dr. Sherman says. “Growing up, I was exposed to horribly negative life situations, and as an . Speaking of her transition, Dr. Sherman recalls, “I realized that I no longer wanted my past to define who I was. That was a choice I could make, and I did. My past no longer haunts me; in fact, I am thankful for what I experienced since I have used each situation to help me to grow. It is from my journey that I know that you, too, can choose not merely to react to all the things that happen around you- whether they trigger something from your past or are things that are happening today- but to make powerful choices.” Dr. Sherman sees her role as a facilitator of those difficult choices. Her mission is to assist others in freeing themselves from their own past cycles of behavior, as she freed herself.
Most of us live in a basic state of mindlessness. When we live mindlessly it means we simply function. We exist rather than live – like we’re on “autopilot” and therefore not really conscious of what we are doing. We are not taking responsibility for our actions, reactions, or behaviors. Despite this gray state of existence, we’re surrounded by choices at every moment, each an opportunity for change, each an opportunity to live mindfully.
But we don’t take these opportunities. We are not free enough to make these choices nor are we trained in how to make them. Once we can make one choice, it leads to other choices. Choices indicate movement rather than stagnation. Unfortunately, sometimes we do not like any of the choices that are available; we resentfully say that there is no choice when what we mean is that we see no good choice. Many times, we have made a choice and don’t think about the fact that we have eliminated other possibilities.
Part of the Art of Choice is accepting the realities that exist in the moment. Even if we do nothing, it’s important to realize that choosing to do nothing is in itself a choice. Once we do that, we can move out of the mire in which we find ourselves, and even create future possibilities that didn’t previously exist.
Why would old emotional patterns prevent us from thinking clearly?
As children we only experience the world; we do not have the ability to analyze. So, if something doesn’t feel right, we remember the situation and the negative feelings. Later in life, if a situation arises that makes us feel the same or similar, our old feelings act like a filtering system and we react as if it is the same situation — never thinking it through. When emotions are aroused we’re biologically wired to respond for survival – so much so that emotions win out over rational thought.
When we see things similar to our old experiences, our subconscious minds tap into old emotions that aren’t accurate, or relevant to the situation at hand. This drains our energy and produces behavior that’s inappropriate and out of sync with the choices that we have rationally chosen to make for ourselves. If we don’t realize that we behave and function based on these emotional errors, misunderstandings compile and can get in the way of healthy relationships.
Understanding how our brains are wired is the first step to altering this unconscious behavior. Once we acknowledge that there are irrational forces at play in our minds, we can decide to make a change. By learning to observe ourselves and question our automatic reactions, there is a window of opportunity to make changes.
Changes can only take place if we are willing to make the necessary choices. In the Art of Choice series, Dr. Sherman guides her clients through the complexities of their own decision-making process. She walks us through the unconscious choices that have paved groundwork for our current behaviors, and through the decisions that we want to make for the future, in order to exact the changes that we want and deserve in our lives.