Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Choice is Yours

A few years ago, I was dealing with a difficult family situation that was bringing on a lot of stress, frustration and resentment. As I wrote and doodled about the situation in my journal, I printed a question in big, stressed letters: "So What Am I Going To Do About It?". I think I wrote and printed it several times, taking out my frustration and confusion on the paper and pen.

After a while, I noticed all those capital letters and wrote them down, too: S-W-A-I-G-T-D-A-I? The acronym looked almost like a word, and I pronounced it "swag-tuh-day." I thought, Well, Kate, what are you going to do about it? SWAIGTDAI? I spent a while coming up with possible answers to that question and slowly worked my way out of my frustration and confusion. The situation didn't go away instantly, but I found ways to handle it that worked for me and didn't include striking out at anybody.

I told my family about SWAIGTDAI and how it was helping me focus on my options and strengths, and we started to use it in all sorts of situations. We quickly found it can also work when you say it -- with love, not sarcasm -- to someone else: SWAYGTDAI? So What Are You Going To Do About It? Both versions of SWAIGTDAI are meant as gentle and firm reminders that we have choices, even if we can't see them at first or don't like them.

For example, if a family member steals from me, I have several choices in how I respond:
  • scream and yell
  • cry
  • talk calmly with the thief
  • tell everybody in the family about it
  • not talk about it at all
  • give the silent treatment
  • kick the person out
  • call the police
  • not call the police
  • etc.
Some of those possibilities might seem so obvious that they don't look like choices at all, but they are. And every one of them is in my power to act on or not act on, even though the whole situation and my possible reactions might feel difficult at the time.
Every day, every hour, and minute brings choices for us to make. We can make choices that work for us or against us. We can think, feel, and act in ways that ease a tough situation or make it harder. So when you feel confused, frustrated, or just plain stuck, ask yourself, "SWAIGTDAI?" Then be willing to try the answers you get.


Anonymous said...

Very appropriate for me today. Thanks

Buzgim said...

Right on Kate! Jim wears his SWAIGTDAI t-shirt faithfully. It's a great reminder!