Claire Small Says Think On The Choices You Make

With International Womens Day this month, Clinical Director Claire Small focuses on the need to be thankful we live at a time and in a society where we have the ability to choose.

March 8th was International Women’s Day. Now – men, don’t hit the delete button thinking this isn’t going to be relevant to you. 

I was very fortunate to take part in several events around International Women’s Day; all of which got me thinking about what has changed for women over the last 10 — 100 years. It struck me that one of the biggest and most important changes has been the ability for women to make choices about their lives. I know this isn’t the case in many societies around the world, but in both Australia and the UK, women (and men) are free to decide how we want to live our lives. We get to decide what sort of work we do, and how much time and effort we put into it, what we do with our leisure time, where and how we raise our children, what we eat, how we spend our money — the list is endless. 

I imagine that many of you have read that statement and thought that’s probably true for other people, but it’s not the case for me.” I frequently feel I’m doing things I don’t want to do, or that I don’t have the time to do what I would like. Often, we carry on as though the things we do on a daily basis are beyond our control and that we are forced into situations that are not of our choosing. But if we step back and really analyse what is going on, it becomes clear that the way we are living is because of choices we have made. We work long hours to ensure a decent salary, we commute long distances because we want to live in a certain area, we over commit ourselves for fear of not being asked next time. 

Steve Peters is a Psychiatrist and Psychologist who has worked with some of Britain’s top athletes, (including British Cycling) to help them achieve success on a world stage. According to some of the clinicians I work with who know him, he is a straight talking Yorkshire man — a trait many Aussies can relate to. In his book, The Chimp Paradox, he talks very bluntly about our need to own the choices that we make and recognise that ultimately we are responsible for the way we live our lives. He refers to the emotional, instinctive part of our brain as The Chimp (the limbic system), and the logical section as The Human (our frontal lobe). 

Research has shown that in response to any situation, blood flow increases immediately in The Chimp part of our brain and is diverted away from The Human. Physiologically, we are designed to make decisions with the emotional part of our brain, which is why we don’t always make the best, most logical choices or respond in a rational fashion to situations. And even when we do make the best, most reasoned response or decision, our Chimp is still there sitting on our shoulder, telling us that things can be different; that we can have our cake and eat it too, and often sabotaging our decision making. Read more…