Do any of these sound familiar?
• I have to stay in this job or we won't be able to make the mortgage, I have no choice.
• I have no choice but to go to see Mum again this evening.
• I've just got to get that report finished, I have no choice.
• I have no choice, I'll just have to miss the school sports day.
• I have to pay the electricity bill, I have no choice.
When we tell ourselves we have no choice, we transform ourselves into the role of victim.
It's totally disempowering, builds up resentment and generally is a robber of joy.
"I have no choice" can also keep us stuck in situations that are very wrong for us for a very long time. Personally I know I spent a number of years in a job I hated because I was telling myself "I have to stay in this job or I won't be able to make the mortgage, I have no choice".
As a single woman carrying a big mortgage solo, I absolutely believed what I was telling myself.
However, here's the thing I now know. It's going to come as a bit of a shock, a proper newsflash. Are you ready? Here it is. EVERYTHING AFTER BREATHING IS A CHOICE. All you HAVE to do is breathe, after that, EVERYTHING IS A CHOICE.
When I am speaking on this topic I usually get a lot of outraged push-back at this point.
"That is not right! You don't understand, I have to pay the mortgage/see mother, miss sports day, I have no choice, I really don't." I get it, I really do. We are so ingrained in this way of thinking it's hard to accept there might be alternative way to look at things.
Let me give you an example. I don't have to pay my electricity bill. Seriously. I don't! I can choose not to pay it. I can choose to default. I can choose to sit here in the dark. But, I kinda like having lights and power so I choose to pay it. I don't have to pay my taxes. But I like running my own business and don't want to get done for tax evasion so I choose to pay them. And you know what, when I am choosing to pay them rather than having to pay them I write out that cheque with a much better energy and with a lot more gratitude about the choice I am making to pay that bill. That is my money and that's my choice how I spend it, and I choose to spend it on power and tax because I like light and my freedom.
Everything. After. Breathing. Is. A. Choice.
This might seem like silly semantics, but I assure you the act of getting truthful with yourself about the choices you are really making in life is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. The language we speak to and about ourselves is exceptionally important. Embracing the truth inherent in the word "choice" liberates us from the role of victim and not only empowers us but actually changes how happy we feel about the choices we are making, because we see them as a choice, not a thing we are forced to do.
For instance: "I am choosing to stay in this less than ideal job as I can't actually be bothered job hunting and I quite like having something to complain about."
"I am choosing to stay in this less than ideal job because right now financial satisfaction is more important to me than job satisfaction and this is paying great!"
"I am choosing to go and see Mum this evening when I don't really want to, rather than choosing to speak up and say I have other plans with Polly. I am choosing to upset Polly and myself rather than Mum."
"I'm choosing to see Mum this evening because I love her, and that's absolutely how I want to spend my time right now."
"I am choosing to be at the conference rather than at the school sports day because it's actually more important to me and the last sports day was tedious."
"I am choosing to miss the school sports day so I can be at the conference which I feel is more essential to the welfare of the family right now."
There is no right or wrong here. We are just trying to get to what's truthful.
Whatever the situation, embracing the true reality of the real choice we are making puts us back in our own power. When we say we have no choice, there is always another option. Search it out, dig deep. Sometimes when we frame up what we are actually choosing between we might find we make a different decision entirely. Once the real choice is outlined we think "Hell no! I don't want to choose THAT!" Other times we will stick with our original choice, but OWN it in an empowered way rather than from the victim's standpoint of "no choice". We all actually have infinite choices available to us all day. Everything after breathing is a choice about how we wish to spend our time, energy and attention. So choose wisely this week!
In your journal, note down the situations in your life where you feel you have "no choice". Start uncovering the reality of the choices you actually do have. Then either change it, or own it!
Louise Thompson is a life coach, yoga teacher and corporate escapee. For more from Louise visit positivebalance.co.nz.