joy and happiness than I have yet experienced? Chances are that human nature wants me to believe I am faultless, flawless and can do no wrong. Then along comes a book that tells me plainly that I am the cause of all my unhappiness. Would not most resist under that condition? Alas, the act of resistance is the greatest inhibitor of change.
The Arbinger Institute and their team of authors have enlightened the world of psychology in their pocket-sized book, The Choice. Never before have I seen an age-old problem so clearly understood, defined and resolved. Their remedy to relational situations far exceeds the popular material that we read today about human behavior and relationships. Of course, comprehension and change seems easier on paper than is the reality of truly changing oneself. The intention of this paper is to explain the simple process of change as described by the Arbinger Institute.
Two Choices: Respond or Resist
A situation arises and we choose whether we are going to respond or resist. By seeing others as people, we can respond when they have a need and act in service toward them. By seeing others as objects, they become obstacles and problems in our way. We refuse to serve them and spend the rest of the time blaming, justifying and resenting. The pathway is dark and lonesome; it is the course to self-betrayal.
A very recent experience taught me that I am unaware of the choices I make until it is too late and I have made the choice to resist, heading down the path of self-betrayal. I wondered if I had this experience because some hand of Providence wanted me to see clearly how habitual I had become in resisting service. The choice of resistance is an unhealthy habit. When we choose to resist, we slide down the slippery slope of suffering and self-betrayal. As we are presented with situations to serve we can stop and think what will be our choice: to resist or to respond.
If I were to respond instead of resist I could effect a change in me. The only catch is that I need others in which to respond. It isn’t enough to make that change on my own. Clearly, other people are essential to my quest for change. The authors explain that “my responsiveness to others’ needs is my deepest sense of what is right” and by serving them I do right and feel happy. Change only takes place by forgetting myself in response to others. Jesus taught the same principle when He said, ”For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Change will come as we serve those around us.
The choice is undoubtedly my responsibility. Unlike in the first paragraph, it is not a question of resisting, but a question of choice. Will I choose to serve by responding to a need or will I choose to resist? My happiness and satisfaction hinge upon my responding to others’ needs. That knowledge is easier to grasp.