So Many Choices, So Much Time
Updated: Oct 20, 2019
But I don't have a choice!
There really isn't anything else I can do!
I'm stuck - this is my only option!
Is it? Are you sure? Why don't we revisit that because the last time I checked, we ALWAYS have a choice. Always. I faced open-heart surgery. I was told that it would prolong my life and help me. When I was really upset about it, I proclaimed "well I guess I don't have a choice here". But I was wrong. I absolutely had a choice. I could have opted out of the surgery, albeit against doctor's orders. And having made that choice, I would then be wholly responsible for the consequences. I'm writing this blog post today because I chose to get the surgery. Good choice.
But that is just how it works, each and every time. Life presents itself, in all of its vibrant variety, and we get to choose. And we get to deal with whatever results from what we chose. Once we argue that we don't have a choice, we are giving away all of our power. We are pretending that life happens to us while we sit by and deal with it.
Some would say there are definitely situations that leave us with no choice. Extremes of the human condition that most of us do not have to confront, like limited mobility, deeply disturbing emotional problems*, financial ruin, the weather. By arguing that we always have a choice, I am in no way minimizing or discrediting the real challenges that people can face. But even these challenges present one with a choice, not just about what to do but also how to feel. (*I will offer a rare exception when it comes to people who legitimately struggle with depression. Part of the depression is being unable to see your choices, unable to engage with that part of your brain that flexes and sees a different reality. For those people I say see someone who can help. And for all of those watching, make sure they are getting the help they need. Help them choose a better path forward. You can be instrumental in saving their life.)
So let's say a hurricane destroys your home. Not something you chose. You can stay and rebuild or you can go. Neither choice is easy. But it is yours to make. And then you get to choose how to approach the challenges that result from the choice you made, and how to get yourself out of bed to fight another day. But let's say the government steps in and says you must go. You can still go or stay, knowing full well that your choice to stay leads to legitimate consequences, like maybe an arrest. Your choice. Thankfully, most of us won't have such an extreme situation. But it illustrates my point - we always have a choice. Make one and carry on.
And we have choices to make when it comes to how we feel, too. People don't "make" you mad. You allow their actions to tap into that part of you that gets upset. The other person didn't "make" you do something outrageous....you did that all on your own, based on your surrender of your emotional control. Kids are really great at this one - "He MADE me do it!" Not so fast, honey. We can only control us. And we can't control others. The only reasonable thing to say is that he is responsible for what he does, and you are responsible for what you do. We don't make each other do anything. It's that simple. So when we are feeling angry, drained, crazy, disenchanted, you name it - look within. We are choosing to feel that way. We are choosing to allow those external forces to affect our emotions. And we are choosing to let ourselves off the hook for it by blaming someone else for what is happening completely within our own heads and bodies.
Most people don't like to hear this. It is much easier to surrender. Who wants to admit that we are accountable for our choices each and every time? Who wants the burden of choosing? Well, I certainly do. I welcome the daily opportunities to make my own choices for how my day and my life is going to go. I certainly don't want anyone else to do it. How can anyone else do it? You answer to yourself above anyone else. Whoever is out there that you keep giving your choices to is pretty unimportant compared to you, aren't they?
Make a choice. Accept that choice. Don't allow anything to prevent you from capitalizing on the power of your own thoughts and reasoning and decisions. You get to decide the small stuff - what to eat, who to call, when to sleep, what to buy. And you get to decide the big stuff, too - who to love, who to share your time with, what to do with your time, how to behave when faced with adversity. And when life happens - the good and the bad - you can embrace it with the knowledge that it happened thanks to the choices you made, not in spite of your reliance on letting others make choices for you.
It's your life. Take all the time you need, but make a choice. Choose the life you want. Choose to be the person you want to be. Choose to feel a certain way. And be proud of the choices you make. Not proud of your choices? Well, I've got some great news! You can make different ones starting right now.