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Choosing Wisely



Making Better Choices


No matter what your situation, so long as you are alive, you have choices.  You can choose to remain in the rut you believe you are in or you can choose to live differently.   You have choices. Even if you are feeling down or even depressed, you still have choices.  You choose to stay as you are or you can choose a different mental state.  You get to choose.


You have choices; you get to choose how to respond to life.

C. W. Sooter


Many people find it hard to believe that relief from stressing emotions can be that simple but it is.  Your emotions are the product of your thoughts.  So, if you think differently or make different choices about 'being', 'doing', or 'having', you will have a different mental state as a result.  Feeling differently is just a matter of making new and better choices.


Table 6.1 No matter what you are feeling, you have choices

If you are feeling...

You can choose to...


Focus on the positive and find a purpose to live for


Find ways to depend upon yourself for your needs

Not good enough

Accept yourself and your one-of-a-kind uniqueness


Find new goals you can work towards


Stop ruminating about the past and start the forgiveness process


Forgive yourself, apologize, and make amends


Calm down and let go of your resentments


Confront problems rather than seek to escape them


Find something of value to believe in


Control your attitude and direct your energies towards good ends


Find something of value to replace your loss


You can choose to fight your situation and attempt to overcome them or you can accept your circumstances and then choose how to live with it.  "Needing to change yourself, others, or the world before you can be happy (satisfied with your life) is the cause of your emotional distress.  You can gain rapid relief from emotional distress by moving from the change system to the choice system wherein you choose to accept the current situation and then to create what you  want by the choices you can control."[1]  To get rapid emotional relief, you must be willing to take the time necessary to cure your personal psychic pains and hurts. 


Trying to change other people or physical events in the outside world is the hard way to reduce your emotional distress, because the outside world is largely uncontrollable.    Instead, you must start by accepting what you cannot control and focus on what you can.  Instead of allowing yourself to become upset over matters that matter to you but which you cannot control, focus your attention and energies on 1) accepting your feelings, 2) knowing what you want, and then, 3) doing what is necessary to get what you can, given the choices available to you.[2]  If you don't have good choices, then you must get creative and invent more and better choices.  The situation in which you are living right now is not the only one that you could have.  You have choices, and you should avail yourself of them.


If you don't like what you have, choose to want what you get.

C. W. Sooter


People who think they are stuck in a situation or something they don't like about their life, fail to apply the most fundamental principle of life management.  The primary principle of life, when you find yourself in a situation that is not to your liking, is do something proactive about it.  You have choices.  People who are depressed believe their situation is hopelessly permanent, and they can do nothing about it. They feel helpless, and so, they don't try to better their situation. 


You have Choices


If there is nothing you can change in your external circumstances, then shift your thinking to what you can choose about your internal circumstances.  "The common denominator in all emotional pain is a perceived need to change current reality which is unchangeable at the moment.  People are at the mercy of what they refuse to accept."[3]  Most people believe they must have what they want to be happy, and sometimes, they believe they must remove what they don't want.  The change system is based on a mental perception that 'when everything is exactly right in my life, then, I can give myself permission to be happy, but not until then.'  Since no life is ever perfect, there are always people and situations that are not to one's liking, and if this mental thinking prevailed, no one would ever be happy.   


Fortunately, happiness depends more on attitude and mental perception than anything else.  You can always choose your attitude or how you view your situation.   Most people have so many choices, but they are seldom aware of only a few of them.  People get to choose what they do, how they do it, with whom they do it, when they do it, where they do it, and most importantly, why they do what they choose to do it. 
Choice is an awareness issue.  The more aware you become, the more choices you find.  "When you resist current reality, you constrict your awareness of available choices."[4]  Lowered awareness leads to limited choices.  Expanded awareness leads to unlimited choices. 


Most people fail to distinguish between change and choice, and they don't know whether to focus their energies on the externals or the internals.  You can gain great emotional relief simply by shifting from change to choice as your first response, or from external to internals.  Your internal mental state is completely under your personal control, whereas will externals could remain uncontrollable, and hence, a continuing source of emotional distress if you choose to allow it.    External change is hard, and it takes time to effect, and in the meantime, you may continue suffering during the slow pace of change unless you choose a different outlook on life first.  But if you make choices, to change your internal mental state first, you can get immediate emotional relief. 


"When you are in the midst of emotional distress, look at your choice list and ask yourself which positive experiences you want.   Then choose to create the experience and take action to make it happen."[5]  Gary Emery and James Campbell suggest the ACT formula for getting fast emotional relief which consists of 1) Accept your current reality, 2) Choose to create your vision of what you want in life, 3) Take action to create it. 


Always be inventing options; choose some; make them happen.

C. W. Sooter


Decide what you want to exist in your life, make a mental vision of what it would look like if present, then write down a short description of your goal so you can put that vision into practice by the choices you make.  As you move forwards, take what you learn to further your advancement towards your goals. Eliminate from your life anything that does not contribute to your purposeful goal.


Always know what you want. There are many ways to get what you want, and perhaps the one you've been struggling with and not making any progress towards is a means that needs to be abandoned.  There are many ways to get to the same end.  Just use your creative thinking to choose another better way to get to the end state or your purposeful goal.  Making choices to get what you want out of life is called the 'choose' method. 


If you are not sure what to choose, then dream about possibilities.  Allow your mind to wander, disassociate from you current circumstances, and consider out-of-the-box options that you've never permitted yourself to think about before, because for some reason, you considered these options taboo.


"If you don't know what you want, make it up.  You can also make up how you achieve your vision. Simply make up a vision of what you want,  and if, after you get it, it turns out you don't like it, make up another one. "[6]


Clarity equals success.

Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress



Wisdom is knowing the difference between the container and the contents.

Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress


When you freely choose the reality you want, you will be much less stressed about your life.  Whether or not you have the ability to create the reality you prefer depends on how well you manage your psychological world and can influence the physical world.  Your ability to control your world is illustrated in Figure 6.1 below.
















                                         Figure 6.1 Ability to Influence Your World Depends on Your Awareness, Abilities and the Cooperation of other People.



You can expand your area of control over your world in limited ways, some easy and some hard.  As shown in Figure 6.1, the inner (yellow) circle represents what you can control in your psychological world to the extent that you have awareness and ability.  Ability and maturity tend to grow as you gain experience which takes time.  However, your awareness is immediate and at your beck and call if you just remember to use it.  Once you are aware, you can begin to act 'as if' you were the person you wanted to be, and then, start doing the things the person you want to be would do.  Once you begin to act the part, you will begin to feel the part.  With repetition, comes habit and ability.  Responsibility is awareness plus ability.  Your circle of responsibility expands as gain awareness and ability.


If you should decide that you want to make changes in the physical (green) world, you must work a little harder, because it is difficult to change other people and you have to create all the 'causes' necessary to create the effects you desire.  Changing the physical world is hard, but you can choose to try if you are sufficiently motivated.   The effort to change your physical world will be much easier if you choose the right psychological world to support you campaign of change.  But before you attempt to change your physical world, stop and think of what the likely consequences of your actions will be.  Decide if you are willing to pay the price for your actions.  Only then should you act on your choice, if you still motivated after taking into consideration of what you expect to get after paying the price.  If you are unwilling to pay the price for what you want, then let go of this choice and find a better one with a lower cost in time and energy to attain it.[7] 


You never know how much you can influence your physical world until you try, and it is your chose to try if you choose to do so.  Sometimes, you have to push the limits of your ability to find your limits.  The 'choose' method does not suggest that you limit your choices only to your psychological world.  For good and sensible reasons, people want to better their lives by creating a better physical world for them to live in.  They just don't have to choose to overly stress themselves about it when the going get tough.


The essential elements of taking responsibility for your psychological world is listed in Table 6.2 below.  You are responsible for your own choices depending on only two things: your awareness and your ability.   You can't make choices if you aren't aware of them or you don't have the ability to act 'as if' you had the personality qualities (acting ability) that your choice requires.  Awareness comes easier but the ability to act 'as if' might take a little practice.  


In the 'choose' method, you have choices.  Whenever you are emotionally distressed, just remind yourself that your upsetness is due to your thinking.  You are likely thinking you have to do what you are doing, but you really don't.  You can choose not to do it.  Or you can freely choose to do it but for reasons that you choose. "Whenever the phrase 'have-to-do' comes into your head, change it to have-the-option to do."[8]  You will be surprised at how quickly your emotional distress disappears when you become aware that you have choices.  Given all the choices at your disposal, you get to choose what you do, how you do it, when you do it, how often you do it, where you do it, and who you do it with.   Even if you didn't like doing what you thought you had-to-do, with choices, you can eliminate the compulsion from doing anything.  Anything that seems like onerous work becomes less so when you have freely choose to do it for your own good reasons


By limiting the scope of what you are responsible for, you can unburden yourself from the influences of both your own conscience and the demands of others who may be demanding that you be different than who you are or who you choose to be.  You only need to hold yourself accountable for your choices.


If you know in advance you are going to be entering a tough situation in the future, you can properly prepare for it.  You can predict how events are likely to turn out so you can choose how you want to handle it in advance.  You choose the role you want to play or would be most useful for the situation so when the time comes, you can act 'as if' you were that person.  You might even role play expected scenes in your mind to get comfortable with the roles you choose.  Then, let the matter go until  the event happens and then go with the flow. 


Be prepared, then go with the flow.

C. W. Sooter


Table 6.2 Responsibility to Act Depends on Awareness and Ability to Respond

The Ten Principles of Choice Responsibility

1. Anyone who has the ability to respond in the here-and-now has responsibility for how they feel in the here-and-now.  Being aware of your ability to respond liberates rather than restricts you.

2. Responsibility is separate from blame, intent, or right-or-wrong thinking.  Blame takes you away from the problem at hand and doesn't solve it.  Focus instead on the choices you have.

3. Responsibility is integral to a situation and is inseparable from it.  You can't run away from your responsibilities (ability to respond).  If you are in the situation and you can do something about it, then you are responsible.

4. Each person is only responsible for his or her awareness/feelings and no one else's.

5. Responsibility is dependent on the power you have to respond to the situation.

6. Awareness and ability equals responsibility.  In the 'choose' method, you increase your abilities to create what you want in your life by expanding your awareness of available choices or responses.  A lack of awareness limits and restricts your ability to respond.

7. Responsibility is not obligation or duty.  Responsibility involves choice, not obligation.  You are not obligated to respond in any particular way as others might have wished you would.

8. Responsibility is not control over others.  You are only responsible for you, especially your feelings.

9. Taking too much or too little responsibility leads to other problems, because doing so could impact other people by making them dependent on you. 

10. Responsibility doesn't mean capability or ability, because responsibility is the combination of awareness and ability.  If you have no awareness of the problem or you have no ability to respond, then you are not responsible.
















Snap out of it by using the 'choose' method to eliminate emotional distress.


Feeling Your Pain


Painful emotions are not pleasure to endure.  Most people are slaves to their emotions, believing erroneously that they ought to do what they feel.  And for that reason alone, most people fail to solve their fundamental problem, which is to permanently eliminate their painful feelings.  If your thoughts, self-talk, and beliefs are the cause of your feelings, then painful feelings must come from painful thoughts.  The solution is real simple, don't think those painful thoughts.  Whenever you begin to remember or ruminate about past painful events, you can choose not to continue.  You can choose to think of something else instead. For example, if you are pained by a death of a loved one, choose to honor those memories by  focusing on the pleasant memories, and then, when you begin to ruminate about the 'loss', choose not to dwell on those thoughts.  The memories are healthy, but dwelling on the hurt of the loss is not.  You can choose to shift your memories or your attention to anything else that is pleasant from your past, present, or intended future.


If you can choose what you think about, you can control your feelings.  Here's the good news, you can choose your thoughts, and by doing so, you can control your feelings. 


You can choose what you think about.

C. W. Sooter


In the beginning, stopping yourself from inflicting additional hurt by indulging in painful thoughts, self-talk, and beliefs  will be difficult, but with practice, it become easier.  "A simple and effective way to accept and control bad feelings is to feel them purposefully."[9]  Sit quietly, pick a particular thought that unleashes a familiar, unpleasant feeling, and purposely hold both the though and the feeling in your conscious mind for as long as you can but no longer than a minute.   Then, consciously choose to let the thought go.  Distract yourself by thinking something different and getting up and doing something physical. Throughout the day, repeat this process of 1) allowing in the thoughts that previously led to your emotional upsetness, 2) consciously being aware of these thoughts, and then, 3) let the thoughts go.  What you are doing is learning to turn-on and shut-off the thoughts and their associated feelings at your own choosing. 


In the future, whenever you begin feeling emotionally distressed, by the same recurring thoughts, choose to let these triggering thoughts go by putting them out of your mind.  As you become more adept at snapping out of hurtful feeling just be choosing to do so is will become easier and easier to control your thoughts.  You will know you are thinking erroneously when you become aware that you are starting to feel badly.  The remedy is simply to push those thoughts out your mind by shifting your thinking to something else.  You can develop a prepared list of thoughts you can turn to in a moment's notice, such as your 'to do' list, pleasant memories, something you are looking forward to, or just any physical distraction.  


Make an effort to finish 'unfinished business' that might be the source of painful feelings from past misdeeds such as guilt and shame, or hurt and anger, by mending relationships, asking for or giving forgiveness, and making amends.  If you can't do this physically, then write a 'letter' saying in your own words what you would have said in person or done to correct a past miss deed that either you committed or others committed against you.  Or you can write down everything that you would like to accept about the past.  Once you have closure to unfinished businesses, even if it's only pseudo-closure, you can allow yourself to move on without the nagging thoughts associated with a tarnished relationship.


Whenever you get into a situation in the physical world wherein you begin getting bad vibes or start feeling stress and anxious, the first thing you need to remember is to elevate your awareness and start the 'choose' method.   Immediately define the result you want from the situation, and then, begin acting the role that will best get you that result.  If you don't know what you want, then make something up and act it out. If it's not working, then choose a different intention and act out that role.  With a difficult situation, you may try out several different roles before you find one that reduces your stress and garners you more influence over the ongoing situation, immediately, while you are still in the moment.   Sometimes the best role to play is one of openness (reveal your confusion), investigation (find out what's the cause behind the cause) , honesty (state your intentions and that you want to help resolve the situation), cooperation (being helpful by exploring options for mutual gain), kindness (be gentle with people but hard on the problems),  listening (summarizing what you heard), encouraging (motivating others to seek resolution), and a myriad of other things you could do in the immediate situation. 


The key to rapid relief of emotional distress is to become aware of it early before you are emotionally caught up in the heat of the moment and forget to apply the 'choose' method. Once you forget to use the method, it means your awareness level has dropped too low to remember to use it. 


Choose Acceptance


For people who can't stand their own unique situation and believe they can't change it, they still have a choice.  They can choose to accept their situation without upsetting them self about it.   One need not change their outer circumstances to be content.  One can choose to accept what they don't like about their situation, and then, if they can and still want to, work to change it.   But in the meantime, accept what you can't change or are unwilling to change.  Most people already know what is the right decision for them when they are emotionally distressed about their physical world, but don't want to take it because they believe the consequences of taking it is worse than what they have to put up with.  All this changes once they begin to apply the 'choose' method to their psychological world, wherein the emotional distress comes from their thoughts, self-talk, and beliefs, which is under their control.



Choose to accept what you can't change.

C. W. Sooter


If you are emotionally distressed, start by making a list of every irritant in your physical world that you can't stand.  "Next, go through your list, one item at a time, and ask yourself if you can let go of the need or demand to change it in order to be happy."[10]  If you find an item that you don't have that you think you need in your physical world to be happy, then write down all the reasons why your happiness depends on it.   The bottom-line to this exercise is that there is nothing you absolutely must have to be happy except the decision to accept and enjoy your present circumstances.  You can choose to accept what you have and embrace it.


No matter what your situation, you can accept it and find reasons why it is appealing.  Once you find some desirable aspects of your situation, exaggerate them, make them more appealing than perhaps they really are so you can appreciate them more.   Think of all the aspects of your life you would miss terribly if they were absent.  By exaggerating the positive aspects of your life, you counter-balance the negative and help move your tolerance level towards acceptance.


You will also find it easier to accept yourself when you practice accepting others.   Practice observing the words and actions of others.  What others say and do may not be perfect, offensive to you perhaps, but they are doing the best they can given their current level of awareness and capability.  The more accepting you are of others, the more accepted you are in return, which makes it easier to accept things about your self that might be hard to accept.


Accept others and you'll accept yourself.

Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress



If you find it difficult to accept something about your current situation, start by finding at least a few things you can accept.   Start by accepting a small part of what you don't like and slowly work up to accepting more and more.  Acceptance is a choice, so choose to accept those aspects of your life you dislike the least.  Accept those parts of yourself that are easiest to accept.


Accept and permit the fact that some things about your day are going to go wrong.  You are going to make some mistakes or fail to do something right the first time.  Become more tolerant of yours and others imperfections and fallibilities.   This makes it easier for you to choose acceptance rather than judgment and condemnation.  "Develop a quota system.  Accept the reality that life is a series of obstacles and challenges.  When some 'damn thing' happens, and it will eventually, assume that it's part of the quota that you must share for being human."[11]  In fact, it might help if you were to develop more flexibility in how you interpret reality when things happen differently than you intended.  Ask yourself how else you might look at challenging events, other than with harsh judgments and condemnations.  Give your circumstance the benefit of the doubt.  When in doubt, exaggerate the positive and view events through the lens of humor and optimism.


It helps to accept your lot in life if you change your first instinct to judge things with 'why me?' to 'why not me'.  After all, nothing happens unless all the conditions necessary for it happen are present.    So, if something did happen, it just means that it was meant to happen.  You could only have changed or prevented events if you were sufficiently insightful (aware) to perceive all these prerequisite conditions and then have the necessary power to alter them.  Event happen too fast and too continuously for humans to have that kind of power. It is best to accept what happens, and then deal with the consequences as best you can as you accept what you have. 


Choose Your Actions


"Depression is maintained by over-thinking and under-acting."[12]  You have choices.  You can choose to accept your circumstances, and you can choose to do something about them with action or not. Once you accept a situation, it gives you the choice of doing something about it or not.  While you are deciding, you are not held captive of the need to feel  badly about your circumstances. 


Act more and think less.

Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress


Thinking of doing will only get you so far in life.  It is only when you start the act of doing will circumstances begin moving in your favor.  "In the final analysis, it's not what you think or feel that counts, but what you do.  Be a doer and keep moving towards your visions.   Even a fast or premature start is usually better than no start."[13]  You can always alter your direction once you get started and fine-tune your actions as you learn what you need to learn along the way. 


You don't have to wait to get what you want. You can start by choosing acceptance then, choosing what you want, choosing how you're going to get it, and finally, choosing to act on what you want....and choosing to keep acting until you get it.   "Waiting is caused by a focus on what you can't do rather while overlooking what you can do."[14]  Start by thinking of everything you could do, and then, start choosing which ones to do.  Correct your course as you go along.


Choose Your 'Whats'


Just don't forget that you have an nearly unlimited range of options to choose from, if you but take the time to consider them.  The more options you have to choose from, the better the options you have to choose from.  As long as you are defining and dreaming of options, why not pick some better ones.   "Get in the habit of visualizing on a daily basis what you would like to see happen in your life.  The plan of getting what you want is always secondary to the result you want. "[15]


When you choose a want, it must be sufficiently important for your to choose action to get it.  "Visions are born in the joy of inspiration. (Let the anguish of your emotional distress guide you to visions of an idealized future.)  Commitment is valuing our vision enough to make it happen.  Take time to daydream"  In the choose method, rather than waiting for change to happen by itself, you choose what you want and then you choose to work to make it happen.  Decide what is important and start doing it.  Don't wait until you have enough time, money or resources to do it.  Do it now or as soon as you can."[16]


Choose Your 'Hows'


Once you choose the outcomes you want, allow the how to emerge naturally.  "The advantage of imagination is that you can create a vision of what you want to happen before you know how to make it happen."[17]  You can help the 'hows' by acting proactively. Experiment with some hunches.  Ultimately, to get what you want, you must take some action of your choosing and continue acting until you get what you want.  If the work of getting what you want is too onerous, then rely on acceptance of what you have as your fall-back option.  


As long as you hold a future vision of what you want, it will become the 'cause' of what you do in the present to make the vision a reality.  Replace the words 'how' with 'somehow'.[18]  Just keeping telling yourself, "Somehow, I will get what I want." As you move forward with actions to gain your vision, new 'hows' and new 'whats' will begin to appear, giving you even more choices.


"Rarely do you have perfect solutions - or hows - available to you when you most need them. More often, you have a series of partial solutions that eventually get you what you want."[19]  Table 6.3 illustrates how to apply the 'chose' method to eliminate sources of emotional distress.


If certain options don't take you to where you want to go, discard or abandon them.  If you want a specific person to marry you, and that person doesn't want to, then label that option as 'null and void' and throw it away.  If you long for the presence of a deceased person, label that option as 'inappropriate' and throw it away.  Always be able to distinguish the possible from the impossible (or improbable); stick with the real options and throw away the fictions.  The fictional options are fun to think about, but they are not executable and will never get you to where you want to do.


                   Table 6.3 Supportive Thinking in Making Choices


Supportive Thinking Beliefs

Whether to suffer emotional distress

'So what?'  I can accept my circumstances until I can change them.  I will take action anyway.

What you want

'Why not' have what I want

How to get what you want

'Somehow' I will find a way


Choose to Act 'As If'


When people are feeling anxious, they are acting as if something bad is going to happen to them that they cannot prevent or deal with if it happens.   The anxious person feels apprehensive whenever they think dreadful, uncontrollable events will happen to them.   What they don't know is how closely linked their thoughts are to their resultant feelings.  What they don't know is they have a choice on whether to think dreadful thoughts or something more pleasant. If the anxious person knew better, they wouldn't subject themselves to such misery.  Your anxiety responds more to what you do than to what you say, feel, and think, although these later three factors are very important also.   The simple remedy to eliminating anxiety is to act 'as if' you were not anxious, or to put in is a positive spin, to act as if you were carefree, unconcerned, and tranquil. If you want be interesting, then act interesting.  If you want to be loved, then act lovingly.  If you want to be enthusiastic, then act enthusiastically.


You can create feelings by your actions.

Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress


If anxiety is acting 'as if' something bad is going to happen to you, suppose you were to do the opposite, act 'as if' nothing bad is going to happen or better still, to act 'as if' something good was going to happen to you.   You get to choose where you are going to focus your thinking, and you also get to choose how you are going to act.  Are you going to think fearful thoughts and act 'as if' you are fearful, or are you going to choose to think  fearless thoughts and act 'as if' you are fearless?  It's your choice.  You may not believe you have a choice on how you think, but what you think about is your choice.  Here's the secret.  Even if you begin feeling fearful, you can change your emotion by a conscious decision to act 'as if' you were not.  What would a person who was fearless do?  Once you decide what a fearless person would do, then start acting that way, pretending if you have to, 'faking it until you make it'.


Choose to act 'as if' you were fearless rather than fearful.

C. W. Sooter


You can apply the 'choose' principle to any emotion you suffer from at any time.  You can reverse any emotion simply by acting in the exact opposite.  If you are feeling sad, then start acting as if you were glad.  A person who is glad focuses on the positive, counts their blessings, chooses something to look forward to, stands up straight, puts a smile upon their face, walks with a spring in their step, speaks with enthusiasm, and a myriad of other behaviors under their direct control.    And you get to choose all your behaviors by acting 'as if' your behaviors were exactly how you felt at the moment, even if at the moment you are only pretending.  While you may start off pretending, faking it, or acting 'as if' you were something you weren't, but the amazing thing about acting 'as if', is this...you will progressively begin feeling and thinking more and more like you are acting.  You can use your forced acting to completely change your mental and physical state.  And you get to choose everything.  You just have to know that you have permission to do so.


To apply the 'choose' method, you must first become aware of your feelings in the moment, then decided how you want to feel, and lastly, begin acting 'as if' you were already feeling that way.   You will be amazed at how your actions can influence your feelings just as powerfully as your feeling can influence your actions.


"Awareness of your anxiety destroys it."  Anxiety exists to make you aware, so that you heed the danger and take notice of the situation.  After you become aware of your anxiety, the anxiety has serviced its purpose and there is no longer a reason for its existence."[20]  You don't necessarily want to ignore your warnings. but once you are aware, you have choices.   If there is a good reason to take precautionary actions, then you should proceed to do so.  After that, you can choose not to be troubled by your concerns any more.


By forcing yourself to change your mental state by acting 'as it', you gain practice and eventually mastery over your moods.  "By practicing, you inoculate yourself against future anxiety.  Every time you experience anxiety and confront it with the 'choose' method, you gain two benefits.  First, you decrease the number and frequency of anxious episodes, and second, you shorten the length of time it takes to change your mental state.


Choose to be Happy


Here is a little know fact.  Sometimes happiness comes to your naturally, because all the mysterious conditions for you to be happiness are present at the same time.  But when these conditions don't happen spontaneously, you can still be happy, because you can simply choose to be happy.   "When you are happy, you focus on gain and ignore loss.  The reverse is also true when you are depressed. You are focused on loss and ignore gains.:[21]  You tend to feel what you focus on.


Most people wait for happiness to come to them and they work to create what they think are the necessary conditions for happiness to be present, but this is the hard way to be happy.  There is an easier way.  You can simply choose to be happy, and in normal circumstances, you can induce your own happiness.


"Even if some future choices might be limited, you have all the choices you need to be happy and get what you want."[22]  You have more personal control over your happiness than you ever imagined just by applying the 'choose' method.  All you need do to be happy is simply to start acting 'as it' you were happy.  If for any reason you don't know how happy people act, be more observant.  When you witness someone who is seemingly happy, take a minute to observe how they act.  Is their mood cheerful, light hearted, and carefree?  Are they interacting with others in a kind, considerate, and joyful manner? Is their face smiling and are they laughing?  Are they energetic, animated,  and full of life?  However you feel and act when you are happy, replicate it by acting 'as if' you were feeling that way now.  If you keep up the charade long enough, a couple of minutes, you will begin to feel the way you are acting.  You have just chosen to be happy by acting as if you were happy, and surprisingly, in a short time, you will actually begin to feel the way you are acting. 


Happiness is as happiness does.

C. W. Sooter


Choose to be Self-Confident


Self-confidence comes from mastery wherein you learn how to cope with life situations and you trust that you will be able to do so in the future.  Self-confidence doesn't mean that you believe you will be successful in every action you undertake  Self-confidence comes from believing that you will do whatever it takes to gain the results you demand of yourself. 


"One of the easiest ways to feel better when you're feeling down is to master a piece of the physical world.  Nearly every positive experience in life have some link to mastery", wherein you took some actions to gain a result and that those actions are repeatable.   You gain mastery through experience, by trying something, learning from it, and attempting the same thing again only better.  "The gap between what you did in the past and what you can do now is a measure of your progress to date."    You don't have to keep track of your successes or losses.  Keeping track of losses or failures is senseless, because you gain something from everything you do.  Learn to measure success by your inputs by doing your best.  Let the results turn out as they do, and so long as you learn from your results, you will have gained something from your actions.


Confidence comes from doing things.  Even the simple action of moving your body builds confidence.  "Movement of any kind, even walking around the block, can help you build confidence."  Doing what needs to be done on a timely manner, builds confidence.  Acting just to see what happens builds confidence.  "View life as an experiment.  Structure your experiences as experiments and there is no way to lose."  When faced with an unknown situation, be proactive and don't wait for events to unveil  themselves.  Whatever the outcome, you will be wiser than before you started.


As with any other personal trait, you can gain it by acting 'as if' you already had it and take the appropriate actions that would correspond to the trait you seek. 


Choose to Resolve Conflict


To permit and tolerate conflicts in your life is a choice.  Alternatively, you could choose to resolve conflicts with proactive actions.  "Conflicts arise between what you want and what you think prevents you from getting what you want."[23]  According to Gary Emery and James Campbell, you can immediately remove any conflict in your life with one simple action, choose to accept the reality of your situation.  "To remove any conflict, cross out the but in your self-talk, and replace it with and."    Some examples are shown in Table 6.4


Table 6.4 How to Convert Conflicted Self-Talk into Acceptance and Empowerment

Conflicted Self-Talk

Empowerment Self-Talk

What Needs Acceptance

I want a job, but I can't find one.

I want a job, and I haven't found one yet.

If I need a job, then

I must seek a job.

I want my boyfriend to marry me, but he hasn't asked me yet.

I want my boyfriend to marry, and he hasn't asked me yet.

If I want marriage, then

I must seek a suitable mate. 

I want to stop being anxious, but I can't stop.

I want to stop being anxious, and I can't stop yet.

If I am feeling anxious, then I must act 'as if' I were carefree.

I don't want a divorce, but my wife is divorcing me.

I don't want a divorce, and my wife is divorcing me anyway.

If I d want to stay married, then I must love more.

I need more money, but my job doesn't pay enough.

I need more money, and my job doesn't pay enough yet.

If I want more income, then I must find a higher-paying job.

By a very simple act of making a small change in your self-talk, you convert a conflict situation into an opportunity to either accept or change it.   Changing 'but' to 'and' implies acceptance of the temporary situation, and the addition of the 'yet', implies that tomorrow is another day and things change, especially if you proactively give the situation a helping hand.   By adding 'If and Then', you acknowledge you have choices.


"Your create your own psychological experiences (and your own personal reality) by the way you label your current situation.  A helpful strategy is to name or label specifically what it is about your situation that you need to accept (as shown in Table 6.4).   An event is simply an event until you label it, and you can choose your own labels.  For example, look for potential opportunities in what you consider to be a problem in your life, then re-label it in a positive way to reflect the hidden opportunity more than the obvious loss."[24]  Many problems in life are solved just by re-labeling them, a power which you have in the 'choose' method.


Once you accept a given situation and allow for the possibility that the situation might change if you work on it, gives you license to become proactive.    Once you realize that conflict and anger aren't necessary to change a situation, and in fact these emotional responses are unlikely to help at all, you learn to choose other options for handling conflicts.  You can motivate yourself with the vision of what you want to be, do, or have rather than being at war with some person or situation for which you cannot control.


Life is full of surprises, some pleasant and some not. The best overall strategy for coping (with life) is to 'expect nothing and prepare for everything', which is similar to the old saying, 'prepare for the worst but hope for the best'.  "In the physical world, what looks like someone blocking your way is merely the removal of a choice."[25]  Just remind yourself that life is full of choices and you just need to find the right choice for you in your circumstances. 


 With acceptance, comes more choices.  With conflict, the dominate choice is to fight against what you don't want. The less frequently picked but better choice is to respond with acceptance.  "Don't worry too much about resolving problems, just move on to something better.   The more you know about something, the easier it is to deal with. Once you truly accept reality, new avenues begin to appear as if out of the blue."[26]  Concentrate on moving towards a better vision and stop worrying about moving away from the reality you don't want.   Your moods and feeling are the best indicator of whether or not you are moving towards or away from self-acceptance, because you feel good when you accept yourself and your reality.


With acceptance comes more choices.

C. W. Sooter


If you ever get into a conflict with another person, you could apply either the 'change' or the 'choose' method to resolve it.  Sometimes,  you need to apply both, but never attempt to resolve a conflict without also using the 'choose' method.  To resolve conflict with the change method is optional and should be applied only in selected cases, because you can't change others, you can only invite others to change by raising their awareness.  Once you decide you can't accept a relationship with another person as it is, then you need to alter the dynamics of the relationship.  You must first change how you deal with the person, by giving them what you want in return.  If you want more caring, then give more caring.  If you want more respect, give more respect. If you want more cooperation, give more cooperation. 


To change others, raise their awareness of their choices.

C. W. Sooter


If the other person isn't aware of the impact their behavior has on you, then you must inform them by raising their awareness level.  You will get much more cooperation from others, whose behaviors are troubling you, if you ask them to make different choices.  All they have to do is to act towards you as they want you to act towards them.  This reciprocal behavioral arrange is nothing more than the Golden Rule being applied to your mutual relationship.   "You can help increase other's awareness but you can't change them."[27]

Lead change by example.

C. W. Sooter


Choose Method versus Change Method


There is a time to change, there is a time to choose, and only the wise know the difference.  "Choice is derived from your psychological world, and change is derived from the physical world.  You can get rapid relief from emotional distress when you divide the physical from the psychological.  The psychological world is beyond space and time and consists of your being, feelings, and experiences. The physical world is finite and has limits and boundaries.  The psychological world is limitless and has no boundaries.  For example, when you give away something from the physical world (possessions, money, land), you have less.  On the other hand, when you give away something from the psychological world (love, kindness, attention), you create more within yourself."[28]   For this reason, the 'choose' method is so much easier to apply to eliminate your emotional distress, because you have direct and immediate control over your choices.  On the other hand, the change method requires that you change something about your physical reality which may be impervious to your interdictions.  "If you want to change something in your physical world, you must generally look for three items: tools, time, and energy."[29]   Changing the physical world can be hard or easy, it can be fast or slow, and it can be certain or uncertain.  Naturally, if changing your physical world has the potential of improving your life, and it is easy, fast, and certain, then you should probably do so.  A rational person makes rational choices about how they expend their precious time and energy to attain the best outcome for the least effort.


Psychological change means making new choices.

C. W. Sooter


You can separate how you deal with the psychological world and how you deal with the psychological work.  You can deal with each differently with either the 'change' or the 'choose' method.  The change method works best with the physical world and the 'choose' method works best with the psychological world.  This means that for any practical situation, in which there is a physical and a psychological component, both methods could be employed at the same time.   Some people tend to confuse the two states.  For example, people who are under stress will make the incorrect choice of trying to escape from their anxiety with self-medication of drugs, sex, eating, gamboling, smoking, etc.  Taking up addicting habits does not reduce a person's anxiety except temporarily.  Toxic habits doesn't cure any problem, but only creates another one.  


Anxiety and stress are psychological states and trying to solve them with physical solutions from the physical world such escapism behaviors as drugs, sex, eating, gamboling, smoking, etc creates new psychological problems.   If you are a compulsive eater, it may be due to your attempt to solve your anxiety (a psychological phenomenon) due to stresses at work, school, relationships, self-confidence, etc. with what you consider to be stress-relieving, physical behaviors.   Instead, the real solution to psychological problems is psychological solutions such as the 'choose' method.  For example, a overly stressed person might confuse her psychological desire to stress relief by indulging in over eating.  Once the person's awareness is elevated about the 'choose' method, it will be easier to separate and deal with the two problems separately.    By dealing with psychological stress and over-eating as two separate problems, and resolving each with the 'choose' method, one can relief from both problems.  This person should use guided self-talk to direct her behavior.    "When I'm hungry for food, I'll eat only what I need to satisfy my hunger.  When I'm 'hungry' for a release from stress, I'll create that with the 'choose' method."  "You can separate what you are responsible for (your psychological world) and what you are only responsible for if you want to take responsibility for it (the physical world and other people's psychological world."[30]


Trying to fix psychological problems with physical solutions just won't work.  If you suffer from too much stress (a psychological problem), a physical solution such as drinking in excess will not solve that particular psychological problem.  Only a psychological solution can solve a psychological problem.  However, either a psychological solution or a physical solution can solve a physical problem.

Text Box: You can't permanently escape your depression you must confront it.

















In the psychological world, you are directly responsible for whatever emotional distress you are feeling, and only you have the power to choose to respond differently to stressful situations.  The physical world can only cause you physical pain.  It cannot cause you psychological pain.  Only you can cause yourself psychological pain by linking your mental state to your physical world.  Specifically, you can do yourself immense harm by how you interpret events in the physical world relative to your psychological wants and needs.  This is why the 'choose' method works so well, it relies upon your own personal power to alter your mental state if you choose to do so.  You just have to be aware that you can.  Most people believe their mental states can only change if they get what they want.  So, they passively stay in an emotionally distressful state, waiting for external conditions to change in their favor.  But the physical world is a world of cause and effect.   Unless you can control the causes of your reality, and quite often you cannot, then the effects will remain the same, and you will continue to suffer from a self-imposed mental state when your reality doesn't change.  


What most people fail to realize that they could be happy regardless of their physical world and no matter how miserable they feel now.  They just have to choose the mental state they want, and then, they must act 'as if' they were happy, by acting like a happy person would act.  It may take some practice, as you can't just flip a switch, but over time, you can train yourself to be happy.


Only you can change your mental state.

C. W. Sooter


What you choose is what you sow.

Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress


There is nothing to prevent you from using both the 'change' and the 'choose' methods to solve problems and to achieve your goals in life.  You can choose to change your current experiences or to choose new experiences.  You get to choose.  Always start with the 'choose' method, as it is fully controllable by you, and then selectively decide what you 'choose' to attempt to change about the outside world.   Once you've chosen to accept what you have, you can then choose to move forwards. You can choose new experiences or you can choose to change some parts of your physical world.  If you choose to change something in your physical world, you can do without anxiety, resentment, anger, or other emotional distresses.  You will be much more productive without the negative emotions driving you forward and a lot happier.


Not only do you have absolute control over your inner world of choice, but with the 'choose' method, your current reality is a source of information that you can use to your advantage rather than as something you must change and control.  To achieve your vision, it may not be necessary to change 'what is' but instead to create what you want in a different way with fresh options. "You'll be more successful if you use the psychological principles of choice, vision, and awareness rather than the physical principles of effort, force, change, and attempting to control the uncontrollable  (such as others)."[31]


The psychological world is about being and doing ,the physical world about having.

Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress


Even though the 'choose' method is easier, it has its limits.  It simply makes living in the 'here and now' easier, but it may not fulfill your loftier dreams of achievement in the physical work.  The physical world is much harder to deal with and control, because to get what you want in the real world, you must work for it.  You can use the 'choose' method to control your psychological mental state, but you will tend to stay in the status quo of your physical world if that is the only method you use.  If you want a higher education, a profession of your choice, a higher paying job, a bigger house or a newer car, and to marry well, you need to interact with the real world and change it.  There is a time and a place for the 'change' method and you get to choose when and if to use it.  Life is all about choices, and making good choice leads to a better life.   The two primary options you have for getting what you want is shown in Figure 6.2.  The Change Method is shown on the vertical scale ranging for low difficulty to high difficulty.  The Choose Method is shown on the horizontal scale ranging from low awareness to high awareness.   To get what you want, you can choose a combination of 'change' and/or 'choose methods'. 


The figure shows four boxes or four quadrants, each is shaded in a different color to indicate the preferred to not preferred areas.  Most people live their lives in Quadrant I, where they are comfortable because living in this region required little effort and requires little awareness that they need to change.   Most routine needs are satisfied in this quadrant which many people call their comfort zone.  For many people, there is seldom any reason to leave their comfort zone. 


Most people who are in crisis mode, depressed, and under emotional distress fit into Quadrant II, which is one of high difficulty for effecting change, and at the same time, they are unaware as to their distressful situation and the range of choices at their disposal.  The only remedy for people in this quadrant is to change quadrants.  No one should never allow themselves to get into or stay in Quadrant II.  As soon as you realize that there are some areas of your life representative of Quadrant II, take immediate action to move to either Quadrants III or IV.  To move into Quadrant III from Quadrant II only requires more awareness of the choices you have regarding your psychological state.  You can still choose to continue pursuing your physical goals, but to do so without all the psychological stress that you are currently putting yourself through. 


Many times though, once your awareness is heightened, you begin to look around and redefine your unmet needs to see if there aren't other less difficult ways for satisfying them.  For instance, if person A doesn't seem to want to marry you, then you can choose to find someone else to love that does want to marry you.   With a higher sense of awareness, you begin to realize the breath of choices you do have.    From heightened awareness come a greater number of choices. 


Naturally, the most satisfying way to exist is in Quadrant IV where you are in your own self-defined comfort zone, but yet, your are completely aware that you can meet most of your psychological wants and needs just by choosing  them, and then, acting as if you already had them.  Nothing is simpler than acting 'as if', and if you don't get it right the first time, you can modify your acting.  You have the choice as to how you act, when, where, how often, and with whom.   The more often you act 'as if' and get the results you want, the quicker these forced actions become natural and a part of your personality.  What was once just an act, eventually becomes a permanent part of your repertoire of behaviors, and you act them out naturally without awareness. The purpose of awareness or mindfulness in the beginning is just to get you started.

 Figure 6.1 Matrix of Methods for Creating Your Reality
















Choose How You Motivate Yourself


You can allow yourself to be motivated by fear of loss or the prospect of gain.  When you are feeling anxious, you are allowing yourself to be motivated by the fear of loss.  When you are seeking gain, you are allowing the image of what you want to pull you towards it.   No one chooses fear as a motive, but most people act 'as if' they are fearful of not getting what they want.  Instead, you can choose your vision, act 'as if' you are getting what you want, and then, let your positive vision move you to do what needs to be done.


A goal of change implies a lack of acceptance of the status quo, and change is often how you improve the circumstances of your life.  Thus, change is an important method of getting what you want that you don't have.   But you should use the 'choose' method to your advantage rather than to be compelled by fear or anxiety to chase after a reality that is more fantasy than practical.   Sometimes, change does not require changing your current reality, it just involved making new choices.  For example, if you want to change a relationship, you must begin by accepting the current situation and choose how you can best adapt to it.  Furthermore, you can ask others in this relationship to make different choices in how they currently relate to you.  If they choose to cooperate, then the relationship is changed, ideally for the better.  If they don't choose to cooperate, then you still get to choose how you will respond, which could be to seek new experiences with either the same people or new people so as to form new relationships.  You have choices. Always remember you can choose. Instead of trying to change things that are unchangeable, you can create the experiences you want just by choosing them.


One of the best ways to influence other people is to give them what you want them to give to you, by modeling by example.  Give away what you want.  If you want more respect, give more respect.   If you want more love, give more love.  Being an influence on others is far different than trying to change them.  You can help increase other's awareness of the choices they can make, but you can't change them.[32]


Your motivation to achieve any result or vision depends on a couple of factors.  First, motivation depends on the importance of what you expect to gain relative to your values.  If what you want is important, you will have a high personal need, and you will be motivated to act either by the change or choose method to satisfy these unmet needs.   Second, motivation depends on what you must do to get what you want.  All effort whether it be to change old experiences or to choose new experiences requires some level of time and effort as well as uncertainty.  A want that has a high price tag (lots of work) tends to have built-in resistances which could lead to procrastination.   Thus, your motivation is proportionate to what you expect to gain (the benefits to your unmet needs) less the cost you expect to pay (time, money, energy/work, aggravation, uncertainty, etc.).  Motivation equals expected rewards minus expected costs.


Since the 'choose' method offers decent options for the least cost, because it involves actions that you can control and implement immediately without too much preparation.  With the 'choose' method, you need only find options that appeal to you and meet your unmet needs.    With reasonable benefits and low costs, you will be motivated to follow-through with options picked by the 'choose' method without the urge to procrastinate.  When you pick options by the 'change' method, especially difficult options, there is a tendency to procrastinate if the time, energy, and uncertainty are too high.  However, many things in life, that make life worth living, require the 'change' method.  You can't receive an education, find a high paying job, marry the girl of your choice without working for it.  Some options simply can't be gained in any other way than fighting for them with the 'change' method.   Still, you can use the 'choose' method to make the choice.  You always have the choice to accept 'what is' and to fight to change for 'what is not'.


Managing Your Goals/Intentions/Visions


Once you know what you want, and you are sufficiently motivated to objectively do what must be done to attain what you want, then you must do what you know you must do.   Both the 'change' and the 'choose' methods must be managed to get the best results.  The 'change' method must be managed with a well defined process that has a good chance of getting you from where you are now to where you want to end up.  Likewise, the 'choose' method must be managed as well, even though it is considerably easier to execute the 'change' method.  The management steps required to execute both the 'change' and the 'choose' methods are shown in Table 6.5.  Note that the number of process steps is the same, but the 'change' method requires time and energy to complete process step 4, execute the plan, which requires real physical work.  The first step for both methods requires that you know what you want.  You can knowing-what- you-want as a goal, intention, or vision because all the terms implies the same thing.  There is some want or need that is unfulfilled, and the purpose of the goal, intention, and/or vision is to fill it.  In both methods, you must figure out how to get what you want that you don't have.  For the 'change' method, this require you to find the best process for converting your time and energy into the goal you desire.  The processes are dependent upon the goal selected.  Different goals implies a different process.  Some processes are better than others, so you need to apply the 'choose' method to pick the best one. Finally, you need to work your plan which involves time and energy and sometime aggravation when things don't go according to plan.


Although the 'choose' method is considerable easier, it must still be managed to ensure you do what is objectively required to make the method work.   An easy, but still important step in the 'choose' method, is simply to remember to be aware or mindful that anything you want is a choice.  You can choose your response to your unfulfilled wants and needs which you may satisfied in many different ways.  Then comes the relatively easy part.  Once you know the psychological outcomes you want, you need only align your mental attitude by assuming you already have what psychological need you want satisfied whether it be love, respect, esteem, joy, peace of mind, contentment, etc.  Then, begin to exude those qualities by acting 'as if' you already had them.  Not only will you immediately begin fulfilling your psychological needs, but your acting 'as if' you had them will resonate with everyone and everything outside yourself.   Instead of acting resentful for your unmet psychological needs, you begin acting 'as if' you already had them and adopting a cheerful disposition. Instead of repelling people around you, you will attract them.  Some people call this the power of attraction.  People are attracted to positive people and repelled by negative people.


Table 6.5 Both the 'Change' and the 'Choose' Methods must be Managed for Best  Results


Management of the Method


1.      Pick a concrete a physical goal

2.      Pick a process for reaching your goal

3.      Develop a plan of action using the process

4.      Execute the plan

5.      Keep working until complete


1.      Define your psychological intentions/visions

2.      Become aware of your choices

3.      Align your mental attitude with your intentions/visions

4.      Be your intentions/visions by acting 'as if'

5.      Fine-tune your mental attitude and acting 'as if'

You are better off focusing your awareness on what you want rather than what you don't want or don't have.  Focusing on what you don't want only compounds your emotional distress whereas focusing on the reality you want gives you a chance to find choices for creating what you prefer.  "Focusing on what you don't want drains energy.  Focusing on what you do want creates energy."[33]


Helping Others In Emotional Distress


You may find yourself in a position someday, where someone you know and love is suffering from emotional distress, perhaps even feeling depressed.   If you know the 'change' and' choose' methods, you might be able to help them.  The easiest way to help others is not necessarily to try to change them directly, because you can't really change others, but you can help them to change themselves if that is what they want.

A person who is psychologically distressed is operating in Quadrant II as shown in Figure 6.5 are likely struggling with formidable challenges..  You can help them by introducing them to the 'choose' method.  Once you expose them to the 'choose' method, you have started them on a pathway to greater awareness of the choices they have but have not really considered before, because they were so busy fighting to get what they wanted or to stop what they didn't want.  Once someone accepts the reality of their situation, they can see their world with a new perspective, with all the associated choices that they have but didn't really perceive before.  Once the distressed person sees that they are stressing themselves, they can choose to stop.  They can immediately move from Quadrant II - highly stressed - to Quadrant III - unstressed just by choosing to do so and acting 'as if' they were already living in the comfortable psychological space they envision.  They may even choose to pursue less difficult goals for themselves, but doing so is not essential for them to stop being stressed.  One can still quest for high achievement in the physical world by tackling difficult  goals but without overly stressing themselves.  And you and teach them how by raising their awareness level of the choices they are making to make themselves stressed. 




[1] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress: A new, clinically proven method for getting over depression & other emotional problems without prolonged or expensive therapy.

[2] David Reynolds

[3] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[4] Ibid

[5] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[6] Ibid

[7] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[8] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[15] Ibid

[16] Ibid

[17] Ibid

[18] Ibid

[19] Ibid

[20] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[21] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[22] Ibid

[23] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[24] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[25] Ibid

[26] Ibid

[27] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[28] Ibid

[29] Ibid

[30] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[31] Ibid

[32] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress

[33] Gary Emery & James Campbell, Rapid Relief from Emotional Distress







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