Mindful Consequentialism (Dancing through fear and anxiety)

Dear Integral Meditators,

One of the points of focus for mindful self-leadership is learning how to accept creative responsibility for our choices. This weeks article on mindful consequentialism explores this space.


Yours in the spirit of the endless dance,


Mindful Consequentialism (Dancing through fear and anxiety)

You may or may not have noticed that in practical terms, anxiety and fear exist most often when there is uncertainty and choice. For example:

  • If I am trying to decide which choice of school will be best for my daughter, it is the experience of not knowing which choice is best that is directly a cause of anxiety; “What if I make the wrong choice and she suffers?”
  • If I am trying to decide whether to leave my job to seek a better option; “What if I don’t find one and instead I just loose the security of my present paycheque?”
  • If I am ill; “Should I choose the holistic option for treatment that I believe in or the conventional treatment most people use? What if it doesn’t work?”

In countless small and large ways each day the choices we make in the face of our uncertainty defines the direction of our life. So then the question becomes “What is the choice that I truly value, believe in and, deep down I feel is right for me?”

Every choice has a consequence
It can be helpful to contemplate that any choice that we make has consequences. To stay in a secure job gives you (relative) security at the price of your own fulfillment. Pursuing your own passions in business exposes you to the (relative) risk of failure and reduced income, at least for a while. Both options involve some form of discomfort, but which consequence are you prepared to accept to get what you really want?

To make the choices you need to make you need to be able to accept the consequences.

  • To pursue a passion you expose yourself to uncertainty at the gain of creative fulfillment
  • To leave a relationship that is not working for you, you court the consequence of being alone once more
  • To avoid expressing an emotion that you feel you have to deal with the consequences of suppressing or repressing it
  • To help someone in your care to grow you may have to expose them from time to time to the pain of having to deal with something without your help

There is no-one coming to save you
We can dodge responsibility for our own choices in the face of uncertainty, but at the end of the day all this does is prevent us from making the choices that we truly believe in, even if we get it wrong sometimes.
The thing is, every time we make a choice that does not reflect a trust and confidence in our own judgment we undercut our self esteem, our self trust and our capacity to lead ourself along a path in life that is going to lead to the deepest levels of happiness and fulfilment for us.

Dancing with fear and anxiety
I’m not sure you can really get around the anxiety and fear that come from making choices in the face of uncertainty. However, if you can accept the presence of this fear and anxiety, you can consciously build a positive relationship to it. You can learn to dance with it, even enjoy it, accepting of the consequences of your choices; both the nice ones and the challenging ones. This in turn enables you to get progressively BETTER at making the choices that are really right for you.

An image to practice with
If you would like to take the ideas from this article into your life over the next week or so, use the image of a dancer. Every time you feel the fear and anxiety around uncertainty and choice making, bring to mind that image and dance with it; keep light, don’t get too heavy. With a real and mindful awareness of the consequences of your choices, make the choice you believe in and will respect yourself for.

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com


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