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the lesser of two evils

published: 2011-10-08

Dramatically speaking, confronting your main character with a choice between “the lesser of two evils” is a powerful tool. We all remember Sophie’s Choice.
The other day, I asked my haptonomist whether I’d made the right choice by separating from my husband. I had expected him to embark on some abstract theory about the concept of choice, and question whether or not choice truly exists. Yogis, for example, like to say such things when you ask them about choice.
Thankfully he didn’t. He didn’t even say, “there never are any real guarantees in life are there?” Instead he said something I hadn’t realized myself. He said, “there wasn’t a right choice. You were made to choose between two bad situations. One was to hold on to what you had at the cost of a part of yourself. The other was to follow your heart, and that too at the cost of a part of yourself. A different part, maybe, but also a part.”
I instantly felt relieved, a feeling I haven’t had in a long while. Just like that. There it was.
However, a new question immediately came to mind too. And this was it: “but how does one avoid entering into a situation that you are to choose between the lesser of two evils?”
My haptonomist fell silent. After a while he said, “that’s a complicated question,” and went on to say something a lot less convincing about life’s ways and process and change.
I suppose this is when a character gains true insight. The moment a character understands what she should have done to avoid having had to choose between the lesser of two evils, she is on her way to catharsis.

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