Many of you may already be familiar with Victor Frankl. His insights highlights the most powerful tool in your wellbeing toolkit: The power to choose.
Everything can be taken from [us] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — the power to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
— Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, 1946
Frankl’s statement is powerful for at least two reasons. One is the simple truth of what he is saying, that we always have the ability to choose our attitude at any time. The other factor is the context in which he spoke these words. Frankl’s book is the remarkable account of his life in Auschwitz, where he was imprisoned during WWII. Frankl’s lived experience is what makes this so much more than just a trite ‘power of positive thinking’ phrase.
To help us make the best choices we can, here are four acronyms. Although they may be a little trite, they could help think about how to choose your attitude in any given circumstance:
- P.A.U.S.E.(Paying Attention Unveils Satisfying Experiences). When something triggers you, hit the pause button. Instead of reacting immediately out of your conditioning, step away, pause, and pay attention to the choices before you. When you’re ready, choose your attitude and response consistent with your values, aspirations, and the result you want in the situation.
- H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). If you’re any of these four things, try to address them before making a major decision. Clinically that may be impossible given call schedules and patient loads. At least be aware of times when you lacking in any of these areas.
- S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Specific). If your choice involves goal setting, consider these five factors. Does it pass the SMART test?
- F.E.A.R.(False Evidence Appearing Real). Lastly, if fear hampers your choice, ask is the fear is justified? Often, fear is self-created and based on false evidence that only appears real. Examples include fear of failure, of the dark, of being out of control, of being different, or of being lonely, of being loved, of being generous, of showing others who we really are … the list is long. Don’t let fear needlessly shape your choices.
GME Wellness Committee