“Many self-help pundits preach that we all have choice. This is essentially true, but for the unhealed it can be a damaging message. At some level, they know they should have choice, but they don’t feel like they do. This can move them into deeper shame: “If I believe that I should have choice, and the experts are scolding me because I’m not making healthy choices, then I must be really worthless.”
“… I am impressed by people dominated by overwhelming emotional pain who are able to do or think anything that is not destructive. It takes a great deal of energy.” pp70-71 (Author’s italics)
I remember one time, I was in a PTSD state of hypervigilance, and a woman told me “Fear is a choice”. It really freaked me out, made everything worse. It was at least a year before I could find an answer. Fear may be a choice, if you’re scaring yourself by telling yourself scary stories. Fear is not a choice, if you just missed hitting another car. Once fear has been triggered, your only choice is what to do with it.
I also have struggled, while triggered into despair or terror, to act with compassion, not defensiveness, with truth not denial. I am often exhausted, and Levine comforts me by saying my struggle, though invisible, is real work.