Choices: Taking Control of Your Life and Making It Matter

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Overview

What choices have you made, and how have they affected your life and others? What choices do you want to make, and why? When life feels utterly unbearable, what choice do you have in that moment? The book you hold in your hands is an invitation to consider why you make the decisions that you do. It is both an investigation and a celebration of choice, for no matter how crushing circumstances feel, we have the power to choose our responses to life. Bestselling author Melody Beattie returns with a message of hope ...
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Overview

What choices have you made, and how have they affected your life and others? What choices do you want to make, and why? When life feels utterly unbearable, what choice do you have in that moment? The book you hold in your hands is an invitation to consider why you make the decisions that you do. It is both an investigation and a celebration of choice, for no matter how crushing circumstances feel, we have the power to choose our responses to life. Bestselling author Melody Beattie returns with a message of hope for difficult times, offering a blueprint for navigating the path of choice, from the least of our everyday concerns to our moments of deepest despair. This inspiring collection of profoundly moving personal stories and practical advice demonstrates the capacity of the human spirit to overcome suffering through the cultivation of awareness and acceptance, heart and vulnerability, service and surrender. Our ability to determine our most authentic choices and live a life of greater freedom is closer than we think. In Choices, the author who changed forever how we experience our relationships once again revolutionizes how we see our lives. Don't do more, be better, or try harder, she says, but understand that all our actions have consequences and we must listen to our hearts and souls to gain a clear sense of how life, relationships, and love really work. We are not helpless; we have choices. We can choose our path and create meaningful lives.

Melody Beattie shows us how even the smallest choices matter. By paying attention to everyday decisions and nurturing an intimate awareness of our lives, we build a strong foundation that can support us whenever the most difficult conditions loom large and require us to act. Beattie's compassionate wisdom shines light on the ways we sabotage ourselves from getting what we want and deserve, whether it's tangible -- good relationships, success in our career -- or the intangible benefits of grace, contentment, and peace. By clearly laying out situations in which we tend to give away our power or make decisions that compromise or diminish us, Beattie shows us the true range of choices we actually have. This book is about feeling again -- coming alive, not staying numb. It's about timeless values that we've walked away from, like service, caring about other people -- and ourselves. It's a new look at some great old ideas that will serve us well in our search for happiness, love, and making sense of the mystery of our lives. It's about reconciling the joy and the sadness, the failures and successes in life, and being willing to live comfortably with what we don't understand. It's about being willing to let go of guilt, and to live with pain. Filled with illuminating stories and offering the kind of practical yet inspirational guidance and comfort that have gained Beattie an audience measured in the millions, this book will move anyone who reads it to a new level of personal freedom, power, and wholeness.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The author of the groundbreaking Codependent No More now returns with a road guide for self- empowerment in relationships. Beattie charts a path for readers through the clingy vines of needy partners and demanding close friends. As a strong (and articulate) proponent of taking care of yourself no matter what, she doesn't mince words about the urgency of making your own choices, but her stories of real-life situations demonstrate that she knows also that making tough decisions isn't always easy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641551956
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/14/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Melody Beattie is the New York Times bestselling author of Codependent No More, Beyond Codependency, and The Lessons of Love.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 5

Karma with Feet

Sally was leaving church when Kevin pulled her aside. "Have you heard?" he asked. "Mark's back in town."

"Mark?" she said. She tried to act casual, but just hearing his name made her feel more alive. That man -- that angel, that monster, that karma with feet -- was the love of her life. They had been together several times over the years. Each time it was a disaster. But each time when she'd run into him again after a separation, a tiny voice in her head would chime, "Maybe this time we could make it work."

"What's he up to?" Sally asked, forcing herself to speak slowly. "Is he living here again or just in town visiting for a while?"

Sally bit her lip, praying she'd get the information she needed without having to ask any more. In a matter of seconds, it was like God himself answered her prayer. She had the hotel name and location where Mark was staying. While her friend was still chattering at her, Sally was already figuring out how she could run into Mark.

I could call him. Or I could go sit in the lobby and read magazines, waiting for him to leave. It wouldn't be stalking. More like strategically placing myself.Sally drove home, entered her apartment, and then paced the floor.

For some reason she didn't understand, it always felt like she had compelling unfinished business with Mark.

That's because you haven't let go, the quiet voice of reason said. You keep hoping and praying he'll be someone he's not. It's Darth Vader without the mask whispering, "I'm your father, Luke -- your father reincarnate" -- and you're trying to make him well. He's not.

Shut up, she whispered back to subdue this sane voice within. You don't understand. We've been doing this dance for so many years. It's true love. The real thing.

The length of time you've been doing the same stupid thing doesn't measure depth of love, the voice of reason replied. It just means it's taken you a long time to learn.

Sally stared at the phone. Stared at the car keys. Then instead of calling Mark or driving to his hotel, she sat down at her desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out a letter. It was one she had written to herself.

Dear Sally:

I'm writing this letter because I care about you, I really do. And every time you get involved with Mark, it hurts you and it hurts him.

Remember what happened last time? The fighting, the crying, the insanity that went on for weeks and months? I want you to really remember how it felt to be with him instead of walking down a selective vision memory lane.

What you experience when you think of Mark aren't your true memories. It's euphoric recall. It's not real.

I know if you're reading this you're probably feeling excited to see him again. Each time you think that if you do something better or different, you can make it work. You can't. Instead, each time the arguing and insanity gets worse. Chances are pretty good that if the same thing happens 100 times, it'll happen again on the 101st -- no matter how much time has elapsed.

Please take a moment before you see him. Feel what you really feel, instead of just feeling excited to see him again. He tells lies, but he tells them so well he believes them and so do you. He tortures you for your past. He plays with your mind. He makes you feel crazy and afraid.

You've worked hard to get where you are. Do you really want to trade your peace for another roller -- coaster ride with him?

It's okay to let go of your fantasies and really let go of the past.

He loved you the best that he could. Now it's time to pick up the slack. This time, please love yourself.

Whew, that was a close one, Sally thought later, looking back on that day. She felt good. It had taken a while, but she'd finally learned that she could change her future by catching herself right before that moment in time and choosing what she wanted to create.

I put the crock on the stove burner, turned the flame on low. Gee, I hope that pot doesn't crack, I thought. I simmered the meatballs and marinara sauce all afternoon while I worked. So far, so good, I thought toward the end of the day. Just a little longer. They'll be done. I can eat.

I frowned.

Hope that pot doesn't break, I thought again.

Half an hour later I was on the phone. I heard a big pop. The pot cracked. Split right in two.

"I knew that was going to happen," I said to my friend on the phone.

"No, you didn't know it," he said. "If you knew it, you wouldn't have had to learn."

It's not what others tell us we should know that matters. It's the lessons we get under our belts that count. When we don't have to go there anymore, we won't. Until then, it's not over yet.

Some people call that learning the hard way.

Cause -- effect, cause -- effect, cause -- effect. Wham. The lights come on. I get it. Life isn't torturing me. I created this myself.

Congratulations. You passed the class. Let's see what's next.

It's easy to slide by the little choices so fast we're not even aware that we choose. Slow down. Breathe. Take an extra moment.

Choose to stay present for each step.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Open Your Present xi
Section I The Great Law 1
1. She Wanted a Baby 9
2. A Sad Week in Coventry 12
3. A Moment of Truth 14
4. The Drive Wasn't What He Expected 16
5. Karma with Feet 20
6. She Had to Explain 24
7. First Class 27
8. He Hit the Wall 31
Section II Living in the Mystery 35
1. She Found the Key 43
2. An Angel Whispered to Him 47
3. She Couldn't Decide 50
4. He Saw the Light 52
5. She Stopped Running 56
6. She Saw a Monster in Her Bedroom 60
7. She Liked It 64
Section III As the Wheel Turns 69
1. Night Shift 77
2. He Felt Spun 82
3. Her Room Was a Mess 85
4. She Found Herself in Nowhere 88
5. He Had to Backtrack 94
6. She Missed a Step, Too 100
7. She Laughed Away the Gray 104
8. He Was Sick of Being Sick 106
9. She Rode the Wheel 109
Section IV Bringing Heaven to Earth 113
1. She Made a Hard Call 121
2. He Found Peace in a War Zone 124
3. And Goodwill Toward Men 127
4. He Got What He Paid For 131
5. She Got a Tip 133
Section V Opposites Attract 139
1. She Found the Right Words 147
2. Horse Sense 150
3. She Turned the Tables 152
4. He Knew How He Felt 155
5. Let the Winds Blow 158
6. She Got Swept off Her Feet 160
7. Her Fantasy Became Real 163
8. He Went to Extremes 166
Section VI Go for the Gold 169
1. She Called the Law 177
2. She Blamed Herself 179
3. He Got Even 184
4. Mommy Dearest 189
5. Her Halo Fell Off 191
6. He Wanted to Make Amends 194
Section VII Staying on Track 201
1. They Dug Deeper 209
2. A Curious Table 212
3. She Made a Good Call 215
Section VIII Going Toward the Light 221
1. He Ran Out of Hope 229
2. She Couldn't Sit Still 233
3. He Saw the Future 235
4. She Learned Nonattachment 237
5. He Found the Rainbow and the Pot of Gold 239
Bibliography 247
Acknowledgments 251
Index 253
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First Chapter

Chapter 5

Karma with Feet

Sally was leaving church when Kevin pulled her aside. "Have you heard?" he asked."Mark's back in town."

"Mark?" she said. She tried to act casual, but just hearing his name made her feel more alive. That man -- that angel, that monster, that karma with feet -- was the love of her life. They had been together several times over the years. Each time it was a disaster. But each time when she'd run into him again after a separation, a tiny voice in her head would chime, "Maybe this time we could make it work."

"What's he up to?" Sally asked, forcing herself to speak slowly. "Is he living here again or just in town visiting for a while?"

Sally bit her lip, praying she'd get the information she needed without having to ask any more. In a matter of seconds, it was like God himself answered her prayer. She had the hotel name and location where Mark was staying. While her friend was still chattering at her, Sally was already figuring out how she could run into Mark.

I could call him. Or I could go sit in the lobby and read magazines, waiting for him to leave. It wouldn't be stalking. More like strategically placing myself. Sally drove home, entered her apartment, and then paced the floor.

For some reason she didn't understand, it always felt like she had compelling unfinished business with Mark.

That's because you haven't let go, the quiet voice of reason said. You keep hoping and praying he'll be someone he's not. It's Darth Vader without the mask whispering, "I'm your father, Luke -- your father reincarnate" -- and you're trying to make him well. He's not.

Shut up, she whisperedback to subdue this sane voice within. You don't understand. We've been doing this dance for so many years. It's true love. The real thing.

The length of time you've been doing the same stupid thing doesn't measure depth of love, the voice of reason replied. It just means it's taken you a long time to learn.

Sally stared at the phone. Stared at the car keys. Then instead of calling Mark or driving to his hotel, she sat down at her desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out a letter. It was one she had written to herself.

Dear Sally:

I'm writing this letter because I care about you, I really do. And every time you get involved with Mark, it hurts you and it hurts him.

Remember what happened last time? The fighting, the crying, the insanity that went on for weeks and months? I want you to really remember how it felt to be with him instead of walking down a selective vision memory lane.

What you experience when you think of Mark aren't your true memories. It'seuphoric recall. It's not real.

I know if you're reading this you're probably feeling excited to see him again. Each time you think that if you do something better or different, you can make it work. You can't. Instead, each time the arguing and insanity gets worse. Chances are pretty good that if thesame thing happens 100 times, it'll happen again on the 101st -- no matter how much time has elapsed.

Please take a moment before you see him. Feel what you really feel, instead of just feeling excited to see him again. He tells lies, but he tells them so well he believes them and so do you. He tortures you for your past. He plays with your mind. He makes you feel crazy and afraid.

You've worked har to get where you are. Do you really want to trade your peace for another roller-coaster ride with him?

It's okay to let go of your fantasies and really let go of the past.

He loved you the best that he could. Now it's time to pick up the slack. This time, please love yourself.

Whew, that was a close one, Sally thought later, looking back on that day. She felt good. It had taken a while, but she'd finally learned that she could change her future by catching herself right before that moment in time and choosing what she wanted to create.

I put the crock on the stove burner, turned the flame on low. Gee, I hope that pot doesn't crack, I thought. I simmered the meatballs and marinara sauce all afternoon while I worked. So far, so good, I thought toward the end of the day. Just a little longer. They'll be done. I can eat.

I frowned.

Hope that pot doesn't break, I thought again.

Half an hour later I was on the phone. I heard a big pop. The pot cracked. Split right in two.

"I knew that was going to happen," I said to my friend on the phone.

"No, you didn't know it," he said. "If you knew it, you wouldn't have had to learn."

It's not what others tell us we should know that matters. It's the lessons we get under our belts that count. When we don't have to go there anymore, we won't. Until then, it's not over yet.

Some people call that learning the hard way.

Cause -- effect, cause -- effect, cause -- effect. Wham. The lights come on. I get it. Life isn't torturing me. I created this myself.

Congratulations. You passed the class. Let's see what's next.

It's easy to slide by the little choices so fast we're not even aware that we choose. Slow down. Breathe. Take an extra moment.

Choose to stay present for each step.

Choices. Copyright © by Melody Beattie. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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