Reality Check: I’d Rather Choose…

One of the tips from a popular money-management book entitled “The Smart Cookies” is something the authors refer to as the “Rather Factor.” It’s easy to forget a budget when we are faced with an appealing impulse purchase. After we’ve spent the money, then we wish we hadn’t done it. Sometimes, we need a way to remind ourselves of our priorities.
The Smart Cookies tip is called the “Rather Card.” Make a little card to keep with your credit or debit card so you’ll see it when it matters. The power of the card is in what you’ve written on it. One format is, “I’d rather have enough money to..… than spend my money on…..”
For example, “I’d rather have enough money to buy groceries than spend my money on fast food.” When you’re at the burger shop, that little card is like a speed bump that slows you down to ask, “Wait! Is this really what I want to do?” It’s a reminder that we have choice.
But it’s not only money matters where we can get distracted from our priorities.
When we are stuck in an unhappy state, whether it’s persistently thinking negative thoughts or feeling constant distress, it’s hard to remember that we have some choice in the matter.
Dr. Glasser suggests that taking action can influence our thinking, feelings, and physiology. If we are feeling distressed or can’t stop thinking negative thoughts, the most direct way to help ourselves is through some kind of physical action.
However, when you are in this distressed state, it may not be at all obvious what action you might take! Whereas when you’re in a calmer, happier state, it might be perfectly clear what action is helpful.
If you find yourself in that situation from time to time, then my suggestion is to make a little card—your “I Choose” card. It can serve as a reminder when you find yourself stuck in a state where you’d rather not stay.
Choose a format that will work for you, such as, “I’d rather choose to………… than …………. And what I can do to help me is………….”
Here are a few examples to give you the idea:
I’d rather choose to be confident than anxious. And what I can do to help me when I feel anxious is to call my friend.
I’d rather feel energized than depressed. And what I can do to help me when I feel depressed is to go for a walk.
I’d rather feel calm than angry. And what I can do to help me when I feel angry is to play my favourite music.
I’d rather be supportive than critical of my partner. And what I can do to help me is to remind myself of something kind that my partner has done for me.
To fill out the card requires that you first think about your options. What actions can you take? It’s one thing to recognize, “I’d rather not be fuming,” but it takes thought to complete the next sentence: “And what I can do is …”
Writing down your “rather” and your action can help reinforce that we have choice. We aren’t necessarily trapped in any emotional state.
Do you think this little card could be helpful for you?

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