Can you avoid making painful choices?

One of my biggest learning curves was a time when I crashed financially and lost everything. Well, everything of a material nature anyway. The year I faced up to my increasing debt levels and the fact my house had been repossessed was a catalyst for significant change. From that time I stopped running on autopilot. I began the slow journey of consciously taking responsibility. Working my way out of making painful choices.   When everything is going wrong, that is when you learn the most.

When I was in that downward spiral everyone had an opinion. I was given much sage advice to help me rise out of the negative direction of travel I was headed. But I really wasn’t hearing anything except my own inner denial and fear.   If you have kids or are a trainer or coach you know that giving advice is the least effective way to change behaviours. Knowledge in itself does not make changes.  There have been many situations in my life when I really did know what to do but I just wasn’t galvanised into action.

Lessons learned

In some respects I know I had to go through the painful consequences of those automatic reactions and choices I was making to understand that a) I had created that situation through my thoughts, beliefs and self-talk and b) feeling the pain motivated me to change my behaviours so that situation never arose again.

One of my biggest frustrations is seeing teams and leaders in a downward spiral in some shape or form. Seeing they are not being galvanised into action until it becomes clear the consequences of painful choices is becoming reality.  Sometimes the outcomes are predictable and preventable. But like me in the above situation, no-one is hearing that the pain can be minimised or even avoided.

We learn through the consequences of painful choices because we don’t understand we are able to change our programming.  Once you are aware of this, it’s possible to switch to a different way of thinking or overcome limiting beliefs through visualising and believing in a different outcome.

A simple way to think of this is to understand “Away and Toward” motivation.  We are either moving away from something “Not Wanted” or moving toward something “Wanted”. The problem with moving away from something not wanted, is that is what we focus on.  And guess what, what we focus on multiplies.  It’s really essential you switch your focus to what you want and imagine you having this.  The trick here is to not get into a situation where “Away” motivation is even triggered.

How to avoid making painful choices

Here are some simple tips to avoid making painful choices:

  • recognise things are not going in a positive way before you crash
  • take early action to pivot the downward spiral into a more positive direction
  • take notice of your inner feelings and if they are less than positive, do what it takes to feel better, as frequently and as intensely as you can each day
  • observe your thought patterns.  Is your negative chatter having free reign in your head?  If so, then meditate, instigate a gratitude journal, mix with positive people, or even write down your negative thoughts with a view to rewriting them with a positive slant.
  • try and uncover any limiting beliefs that are making you feel bad, or helpless
  • If you are unable to change the direction of travel, seek some coaching or expert help


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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.