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Contestant No. 18, Come on Down -The Price of Your Choices

Sunday, July 20, 2014

By John Goetz, LPC

Some of you immediately recognize the announcer’s call from the game show “The Price is Right”. This is a game show where lucky contestants are given an opportunity to win “fabulous gifts and prizes” based on the choices they make. The contestant might start by winning $200 and is then given a choice to trade the $200 for what is behind the curtain. Often the contestant chooses the curtain and is surprised to win a new car or a donkey. Regardless of the outcome, the contestants appear to be genuinely pleased to just be playing the game. By now, dear reader, you may be wondering why I am bothering to reminisce about a game show. Well I was at a summer festival with friends and a comment was made that at least here in America we are limited only by our choices and generally speaking, I agree.

During the first decade of your life most of your choices are made for you. Your parents or guardians are there to be in control; yes, in control to provide structure, order and predictability. It is in the second decade that you as an individual start making choices that affect your life in the long run. Parents /Guardians are still present to be in control but they must learn to gradually let go in order for you to practice making choices. This is where it gets interesting, because choices have consequences. An example, if you will; if I climb a tree next to my house, scramble onto the roof of the house and jump off on a dare, I might learn to tuck and roll like a stunt man or urban ninja. On the other hand I may break a leg or crush a vertebra. A broken leg heals in a matter of weeks; a broken back may have life altering consequences. This is what parents/guardians fear and what some of us in or second decade of life do not think about, those life altering consequences. Dropping out of high school, a pregnancy out of wedlock, or a DUI in which someone is hurt or killed are possible consequences of choices that will affect your life in the long run. Entering the third decade of your life will be significantly easier if you avoid all of these consequences. 

The goal is to learn to choose well. Parents/Guardians help with guidance and teaching. We learn by practicing making choices on a small scale and listening to the wisdom of elders; they have been there and done that. Take advantage of what others who have gone before you have learned and discovered. Have conversations with older individuals and learn to listen, read books and pay attention in school, work and play; you may be amazed by what you will learn from the lives of others. Study success and imitate it; study failure and learn to avoid the mistakes of others. As an example I recommend reading the book Gifted Hands, The Ben Carson Story, http://realbencarson.com/ and do not skip the letter from his mother in the beginning of the book. She shares a poem by Mayme White Miller https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090127150643AA83xiq that I would like to share with you.
If things go bad for you-
And make you a bit ashamed
Often you will find out that
You have yourself to blame…

Swiftly we ran to mischief
And then bad luck came.
Why do we fault others?
We have ourselves to blame…

Whatever happens to us,
Here are the words to say,
“Had it not been for so-and-so
Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”

And if you are short of friends,
I’ll tell you what to do-
Make an examination,
You’ll find that fault’s in you…

You’re the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same-
If you travel downward,
You have yourself to blame.

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