In life, we always have a choice. All choice has consequences, some known and realized, and some unknown or not considered. But we have choice nonetheless.
It may not always feel like we have choice, but we do. When we feel that we aren’t at choice, we are likely in darker places of despair, dealing with feelings of hopelessness or a loss of control, or we are allowing fear to make choice for us. Even in situations where we don’t necessarily see other options, we always have choice in how we respond (which frankly is the only thing in life that we have full control over).
When we feel that we don’t have a choice, it’s important that we take a step back – out of our emotions – and think about what is really underway. Give yourself a fresh perspective on the situation to analyze what is really going on.
Let me give you a personal example – the good old condo debacle of 2019. If you recall, my condo was flooded in February thanks to the polar vortex and some poor decisions on behalf of my upstairs neighbor. I was forced from my home and have been fighting insurance since to rebuild the destruction that has damaged over ¾ of my condo. When all of this was happening, I was struggling with feelings of despair, anger, fear of losing my hard-earned savings, anxiety over when and how I would actually be able to move home again, and more. Several months of these emotions put me in a place of depression resulting in many sleepless nights and even physical pain. During this time, I saw no hope and felt that I had no choice but to be stuck in this very difficult place. But the reality of the situation was this – even though I literally had no choice about being forced from my home, I had (and continue to have) choice over how much I let that control my thoughts, feelings and actions. My choice became either continue to be stuck in a place of negative energy – or find a way to grieve the loss of my sanctuary and embrace my “new normal”. Through tears and lots of anger-filled jogs, my decision was to give myself the time and space to grieve and move forward. While not a simple exercise by any means, my acknowledging and understanding that I did have a choice in the matter gave me the ability to take some of my power back, shift my energy into taking care of myself and find joy and happiness in my life again.
There are so many other examples of this that I can give:
That time my boss took credit for my work – choice to stay in the role or find a new job
When I was betrayed by a friend who I fully trusted – choice to confront them or put a wall up
When my apartment was burglarized – choice to be afraid or find comfort in knowing my neighbors were watching and called the police
Getting negative (and surprising) feedback in a review – choice to disregard the feedback or believe that perception is reality
When we are in moments of feeling out of control and without choice, there are a few questions that we can ask ourselves:
What are all of the possibilities in this moment?
What is my reaction or response, and why?
How much do I want this situation to impact my overall energy, motivation and life?
What are some immediate steps that you COULD take in this situation?
By digging deeper, we can actually see that there is choice in everything we do. And even though we may not always like the situation, we have the gift of being able to take full responsibility and accountability for ourselves. And what greater choice is there than that.
So when having these moments of frustration, despair and feeling like a victim in the world around you, remember that you do have choice and personal power in everything you do.