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mindfulness

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The Most Powerful Tool You Have is the Power of Choice

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2-minute read


There are many of us on the planet who are blessed to live in countries where there is great freedom. We have the freedom to pursue careers that we want, to be educated, to go shopping and buy whatever we want, to move about from place to place if we feel like it, uprooting ourselves and setting out on new adventures.

We have the freedom to vote for the government we prefer, to dress as we please, and to travel and explore as much or as little of the world as we want.

Yet in spite of all of this freedom, it is astonishing how easy it can be for some of us to feel trapped, helpless and powerless. We might feel forced or pressured into careers, relationships, financial decisions, or parenthood. We feel like we have "no choice" because of the needs, expectations and demands of others who want what they want from us, and their happiness seems to be the only kind that matters.

Some of us will stand up to that sort of pressure, say "Not happenin'!" and run the other direction.

But far too many of us will feel like we don't have the right to do that. "I couldn't! He/She would be furious!" "He can't do it for himself (usually means "won't" do it...). "I have to do it. They're expecting it." "I hate it but they'll be so disappointed if I don't!"

And on and on and on.

I do understand how that feels. I lived there for a very long time. Too long, in fact. Like many others, I was brought up to believe my needs and feelings weren't important. I was not allowed to stand up for myself, to say what I wanted, or to say "No." Because of this conditioning, even into adulthood I was easily manipulated into making decisions that were about the happiness of others while ignoring my feelings.

Consequently, I didn't feel like I had any choice but to make decisions that felt completely wrong even though I tried desperately to make them feel right. I got into the wrong marriages or other situations that left me feeling trapped and like a hostage.

I take full ownership of that...I'm not pointing fingers. At the time, I couldn’t see that my upbringing and other factors contributed to it and ultimately, I was the one who made those decisions.

But all I could see was that I felt trapped, helpless and powerless.

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The thing is -- and it took me years to figure this out -- I wasn't trapped, nor was I helpless or powerless. I just felt that way.

If you're feeling trapped, it's probably got something to do with obligations, demands and expectations that others are placing on you. But you don't owe anyone your happiness. It's your right and your responsibility to make the most of your life, whatever that means to you, and whether or not anyone else approves. If we can just recognise that, it can help to keep us from making choices that are not in our best interests.

And there's the key phrase..."making choices." This is truly the most powerful tool you've got - the ability to make choices.

Don't waste it on people who pressure you to use it for their benefit and not yours.

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Feeling Uncertain About Your Future?

I know how it is to feel like you’re immersed in nothing but question marks. Whether it happened suddenly or by stealth, your life seems to have taken a turn down a road that’s dark and thick with trees so you can’t get a glimpse of what lies ahead.

It can leave you feeling uncertain about everything and fearful about not knowing what lies ahead.

But the truth is, we never know what lies ahead, not beyond the very moment in which we are standing. We make plans and we think that they’ll turn out as we expect. Even though we know sometimes it doesn’t happen like that, usually we keep moving forward on the assumption that things will go according to plan.

And we’re shocked when they don’t. Or we’re hurt or feel like we’ve failed. Or we’re afraid because we feel like we don’t have any control over our lives.

In reality, control is an illusion. It’s really just about having a plan and believing it’s going to go as you want. But other things come into play and things happen that you hadn’t anticipated, or perhaps you had but you thought you might be able to stop them.

You have this moment, and only this moment. The only truth that exists is the one that you experience right now. 

Everything can change in the next five minutes or the next breath. Things come out of the blue; life happens and the only thing we know for sure is that change is a given.

When you feel like you can’t stand the not knowing, just remember that you never really ‘know’ anyway. You’ve only got a plan, but there’s never any guarantee that it will turn out as you want it to do. 

When you accept this and just be open to going with the flow and seeing how it will all turn out, you’ve done yourself the biggest favour in the world. Now you don’t have disappointment, because you’ve given up expectation. Now you don’t have fear of the unknown because you’re happy to see whatever comes and view it as an adventure.

 

When you feel lost, it’s all about your perspective. You don’t really know any more or less for having a plan or not - because life will continue to unfold as it’s going to do. Be at peace with this moment and the rest will take care of themselves. 

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