“To say you have no choice is to relieve yourself of responsibility.”
–Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men
So often we tell ourselves we don’t have a choice. I have to do this because there is no other option. It serves its purpose. Sometimes I don’t think we’d get out of bed if we didn’t tell ourselves we had to. It becomes a problem when it becomes a way of thinking. We box ourselves in and fail to see perfectly viable options because we’re too busy making excuses for why this or that won’t work. The negative thinking leads us into a future where nothing ever works out. We think we have a crystal ball. If it’s something we’ve dared to try before and the outcome wasn’t positive, we really struggle with trying again.
Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s better not to try than to fail, or worse, take responsibility for our choices? I see these thought processes in clients all the time. A client wants something but does nothing but make excuses why they can’t have it or can’t do it. I can’t totally put that on other people either. I’ve been there. It’s terrifying to think that we might make a decision that blows up in our face so we pretend there is no choice to be made.
Lately I’ve taken to telling myself that everything is a choice because it is. Even choosing not to make a choice is still making a choice. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that to ourselves. We tell ourselves, “Well, I had to. There was nothing else I could do.” That’s rarely ever true but we tell ourselves that all the time.
The flip side is that when we do make a conscious choice, it’s empowering. Even if it goes awry, we can learn from it and make a better choice in the future. We come to understand that we can take responsibility for ourselves and we can make good choices. Just imagine making a choice that works out or goes well. We make those kinds of choices all the time but we don’t notice them. We don’t affirm to ourselves that we made a good choice. The negative outcomes have more of an effect on us, which makes us remember and avoid them. We don’t give ourselves the credit we deserve. We don’t honor ourselves. We don’t believe in ourselves. We need to affirm ourselves daily because that’s what gives us the courage to choose.
So yeah, it’s important to choose wisely but more important to just consciously make a choice. As I like to say, if it’s not working for you, choose to do something different!