When we impose limits on ourselves, this is the first and some might argue, most authoritative boundary we will ever encounter. Take a simple, arguably silly, example. You awaken after hitting the “snooze” button a total of three times. Now you’re running late. You leap out of bed, adrenaline triggered by the awareness of potential consequences. Big, vivid pictures of your boss yelling at you fill your awareness — in panoramic, 3-D, moving pictures, with surround-sound, Dolby 7.1 “Consequence-Experience!” You rush through your morning ritual as though it’s a drive-through fast food process. Something interesting often happens, somewhere within that experience: We make a global decision about how our day, our week, or worse, how our life, is going!
Just consider that for a moment. We make a decision. We experience the quite predictable consequence, the inevitable reaction to our initial action. Then we make a qualitative judgment about our lives from that? How many times have you said, “I’m having a bad day/week/year/life(!)” when all that’s really happened is you made a series of bad choices?
Of course, not all choices seem like choices in the moment. Sometimes one choice’s outcome sets a whole series of events in motion, and it can seem difficult to change direction. Yet to support that direction, you must, and do, continue to make choices. To feel consistent, we often tend to choose things that support, at least in part, our initial decision, and if that decision turns out to have been a good one, your cause set in motion may just work out fine. However, if all we are doing is trying to keep from having to admit a mistake, and we are just following the logical flow of an initial bad decision, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when our outcome is even less satisfying.
Such “wrong turns” can be as simple as a literal wrong turn as we drive to our intended destination: We take a right when we should have gone left, then after going a few more miles, we not only take no corrective measure, we turn still further from our originally intended destination. So after a few hours of such meandering, not only are we not at our intended destination, we’re not even remotely close.
Hitting the “snooze” button more than once can easily support an argument–the initial choice makes it harder to get to work on time, but each subsequent decision to do so may easily make it still more difficult.
So what about more philosophical “wrong turns”? I would suggest that we can lock ourselves pretty easily into a trap, preventing our responding in the most rational, useful manner, because, hell, we’ve already started out sideways! Why not continue! Doesn’t that seem better than having to admit we were wrong?
Yet what if, difficult though it may seem, we actually do consider a wrong turn–and turning back? What if we recognized the limitation of that thought we had by merely asking, “What else might be possible? Here? Yes, let’s listen to that voice as it seems to know something we don’t as yet. And here it comes: limited thinking begins to expand and we have suddenly more than we did. We are more than we were. And it feels goooood.