We are defined by our choices, not abilities

“It isn’t our abilities that define us, but rather is it our choices.”

That quote from the Harry Potter novels is the epitome of life. Each of us is the sum of our choices, not the sum of our abilities. It doesn’t really matter if you can speak 5 languages if you choose to use that ability to insult and offend everyone you meet.

Most of us are born with some innate talent or ability for something. For some, the ability is very obvious, such as someone who is a violin virtuoso or a brilliant cartoonist. For others, the ability may be more subtle, perhaps you’re a brilliant analyst, superb leader, or empathic humanitarian. However, none of those abilities are worth as much as the choices you make about how you will approach and use those abilities.

Let’s take someone with a marvelous ability to play the piano. Perhaps they demonstrated a unique aptitude when they were still a child so the parents got them the best teachers and had them practicing for hours a day. Now, as an adult they’ve decided they no longer like the piano, so they choose to ignore it. Instead, they have chosen to pursue a career in business. Or perhaps they decided that it was simply the structure and lessons that they disliked, so they continue to play, but only for the sick kids at the hospital.

See, choices…that’s what really defines us.

Okay, let’s look at someone with one of those more subtle abilities. This person has great leadership abilities. Everyone turns to them when they need advice, or when they need someone to take charge of a project. This person can accept this and use their talent to move things ahead; they can choose to slough it off and refuse to lead or offer advice when asked; or they can choose to use their leadership ability to better themselves at the cost of anyone and everyone else.

Several years back I met a young man who had an uncanny ability for healing. Not the medical doctor type of healing, but the type of stuff referred to as “faith healing”, “energy healers”, or “spiritual healers”. He could use the energies in his and your auras to fix your physical, mental, or spiritual body. However, he preferred not to. Yep, he’d been aware of this ability of his since he was a child, but as he grew up and found that people like him were considered rather fringe, on the edge, or just plain kooks, he chose not to follow that path.

Of course, he’s always willing to help his friends despite the risk of being branded a kook (he used his ability to heal my back after a car accident), but overall, his focus, his chosen path has had little to do with his abilities as a healer (or so I thought).

This marvelously thoughtful and empathic young man went into the business of science and technology. Yet, even though he followed a business career, he always tries to see every side to the issues when making decisions, and his presence always seems to help keep people calm during turbulent situations.

I truly believe that this is because of his healing abilities. Rather than healing individuals, he has chosen to heal situations. He didn’t shut off or ignore his abilities as I originally thought. Instead, he has merely chosen a different way in which to use them.

Rather than performing a “laying on of hands”, he absorbs the atmosphere of the situation and uses his abilities to “heal” any bad feelings, ill will, and awkwardness. He is more than just empathic, because he not only “feels” the situation, but can manipulate it. But he doesn’t manipulate it to suit himself, or to benefit himself or his company. He manipulates the energies to ease the strain, stress, and negativity that would otherwise keep everyone involved from reaching a unified and balanced decision.

Choices, not abilities. His choice is to make the world a bit calmer, a bit more sane, one group at a time. Just as my choice is to spread my perspective of the world one posting at a time.

We all have some ability whether we recognize it or not, but it’s our choices in how we use or don’t use that ability that truly makes us who we are.

So, what choices have made you who you are?



4 thoughts on “We are defined by our choices, not abilities

  1. Choices are often about how you use what abilities you have to respond to the situations around you. In different situations, you might have other possible choices.

    Sometimes people are held hostage by the choices they felt they were forced to make in bad situations – they can’t let go and move on.

    People stuck in past choices sometimes feel they have no future when, in fact, all they really need to do is choose to look forward – not backward. At least, that’s how it seems to me.


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