T. Harv Eker posted a question on his Facebook page yesterday. The question was : If you are not excited by it, why do it? When I read it, the first thought that popped into my head was, "Great question. Why do it?" The first incident that surfaced in my mind was something that took place early in my childhood.
When I was six or seven years old, my mother started sending me to piano lessons. She didn't ask me if I wanted to learn a musical instrument, she didn't ask me if I would like to play the piano. What she did was she decided for me that I was going to learn a musical instrument and it would be the piano.
So for about two years, every Saturday morning, I was dropped off at the piano teacher's house for a one-hour lesson. We would sit by the piano and play for about half an hour. The remaining half an hour was devoted to learning the theory side of music. So I would sit by her writing desk, my short legs dangling from the chair, and practice drawing the treble clef or filling the empty scores with random notes.
It was a bore.
Over that two-year period, I had two different teachers. The first was a young woman, tall and lanky, with glasses permanently attached to her nose bridge. She always wore a white, short sleeve blouse with puffed sleeves, matched with a billowing floral skirt. She was very strict, and would rap my knuckles if I played the wrong note. When she got impatient, she scolded me, brought out a long wooden ruler and hit me on the hands. I didn't like playing the piano very much, much less being rapped on the knuckles and being hit on the hands for not doing it right. When I returned from my lessons, I would complain about the teacher. So my mother found me another one instead.
The second piano teacher was also a young woman. She lived a few streets away from my home. A very pleasant and kind person, she was the kind of teacher who would be patient, and would smile through even the most difficult tantrums. When I would sit on the couch in her living room, waiting for the lesson before mine to finish up, she would look over to check on me. She would smile and give me a conspiratory wink. Sometimes she would even give me a piece of chocolate. I liked her. But I still didn't like playing the piano.
For close to two years, my mother would make sure I sat in front of the piano in our living room and practice for at least an hour every morning. It was non-negotiable. It was a chore. And I hated it. When the time came for my Grade 1 examinations, I couldn't go through with it. I cried and wailed that I didn't want to play the piano anymore. My grandmother took pity on me and had a word with my mother. In the end, I was spared from taking the exam and going for anymore lessons. That was the end of my musical career. I was eight years old.
When I look back at that time, and I ask myself this question - why did I do that for two years? I hadn't thought about it then but the answer seems obvious now - it's because I didn't think I had a choice.
When I was at a friend's wedding spring of last year, I had a conversation with someone I've briefly met a few times prior. She told me that she was in a predicament. Her boyfriend had proposed to her but she did not say yes. I asked her why. She said she didn't feel like he was the one for her. I then asked her if she needed more time. She said that she couldn't see herself with him long term, and no amount of time would have made any difference. She told me that she wanted to meet new people, to start dating again but she couldn't because they were still together.
"Is there a reason why you are still with him now?" I had asked her. She replied that she did not feel that she had a choice.
"Why is that?" I asked.
"He wouldn't let me leave him." Was her response. At that moment, the first thought that came to my mind was - no one can make you do anything unless you let them.
She told me that he was a really good guy. They get along really well and enjoy each other's company. He was kind to her, he loved her and he would make a very good provider. But she felt that there was something missing in their relationship. She felt that marrying him would be the wrong thing to do.
"What would happen if you do leave him?" I asked her. She told me that he would just keep coming back. He would beg and plead for her to stay, and she just couldn't win against him. At that point, I ran out of things to say to her. Not knowing what the dynamics of their relationship was like, I was unable to give her any advice, but that conversation did make me think about an important lesson I learned more than three years ago - something that had changed my life beyond my imagination.
For twelve very long years, I was trapped in a depression closet. I felt that my life had no meaning, that my existence was insignificant and that if I had died the next day, no one would've noticed. Most nights, I went to bed hoping that I wouldn't have to wake up the next day. And when I did wake up, I often lay in bed and asked God why it was that He gave me life when someone else who is more deserving could have existed in my place.
It was a very unenlightened way to exist but I didn't know what else to do. I kept waiting for something outside of me to happen for me to be happy. Some days, I would lay in bed and cry, feeling that I really couldn't go on. But the Universe intervened and sent me help disguised in the form of a sales call.
I had received that call one afternoon when I was at work. A seemingly highly strung lady with a very shrill voice had called me about a Tony Robbins event called Unleashed The Power Within. I hadn't wanted to go but part of me was curious. A firewalk? This, I have got to see. I pulled out my credit card, and paid for it, thinking that that could either be the smartest thing I've ever done for myself; or the stupidest.
It would be three more months before I would board the plane to fly to Sydney. When the time came for me to leave, I was a little reluctant. Even when I was already standing at the steps of the Sydney Entertainment Centre, I was still debating with myself if I should go in or go to the beach instead. I made a choice to give it a try. I told myself that I would at least stay through the first day, and if I didn't like it, I didn't have to go back the next day. I made it through the doors of the SEC, and have never looked back since.
That weekend, I learned something really important - I learned that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. In that auditorium filled with 4,000 people, Tony gave me back something I never knew I had - my power of choice. He told me that I can change the way I feel by changing one of three things. He told me that I could change my emotions in a heartbeat. When he said that, it was as if a ray of light had pierced through the blanket of darkness, and the feeling that rose within me was that of hope and optimism. Four days later, I left the SEC renewed and refreshed, excited about my new life, knowing that from that point forward, I get to dictate the terms and conditions by which I live, knowing that in life, there are no victims - only choices.
I made a choice that weekend to end my suffering, and that has made all the difference. To this day, I sometimes wonder how differently my life would have turned out if I had left my desk that fateful afternoon and missed taking that sales call.
Sometimes in life, we are stuck in certain situations - a relationship gone stale, a job that is no longer fulfilling, a friendship that is no longer supportive - and sometimes, it may seem that there is nothing we can do about it, that we are helpless and we are at someone else's mercy. Just remember that everything in life is about choices. You made the choice to click on the link to this article. You made the choice to read this article till the end, and you can make a choice to remove yourself from whatever situation that is not serving you right now. The question is - will you?
It is in moments of decisions that destiny is shaped. - Tony Robbins
Copyright © 2011 Chiao Kee Lim
Chiao Kee Lim is the owner of the copyright to this work. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any for or by any means without the prior written permission of the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published. Any reproduction, amendments, edits and/or re-posting on any other medium apart from those authorized by the author will be dealt with under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Chiao Kee is a three-time award-winning author who won her first award at the age of 16. She is the President and Founder of The Dirty 30s Club - a blog that promotes self awareness and personal empowerment through stories and personal reflection, packed with a generous dose of humor and fun. Since its launch in September 2010, the Club has had visitors from 111 countries, with its popularity on the rise due to the high quality of its content.
She is a passionate student of personal development who started her journey in 2007 learning from world experts such as Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, T. Harv Eker and Blair Singer in the areas of personal growth and the psychology of peak potentials. She has recently completed work on her book "What My Mother Never Taught Me -The 7 Things I Wish I Had Known About Finding Happiness."
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