“Choice confers freedom.” —Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance
Having the opportunity to choose our path forward — the career path, the relationships to engage in or walk away from, the investments of our time, attention and money — is to live a life of freedom.
Having such choice can be paralyzing to some when they have found comfort in not having to choose for themselves as when we give this power to someone else we assure what we do in our lives is already approved by those in our lives.
In other words, when we abstain from being the “chooser” of our lives, we miss the opportunity of understanding who we are most sincerely, what are true self actually is. And while the journey to everyday contentment may be confusing at first as we navigate through the choices that are given to us, ultimately, these choices will cement our contentment upon understanding most clearly who we are without the influence of the outside world, whereas letting others choose for us will only create, while immediate, also only an evanescent moment of superficial peace of mind.
“Without realizing it, you may be negatively impacting your effectiveness by seeking others’ approval. This is because you probably avoid doing things that are important to you, feel anxious about trying new things outside your comfort zone, and get stuck worrying about what others might expect from you. Needing approval may lead you to reject potential opportunities, because you’re too anxious and believe your performance has to be perfect. It may cause you to fear failing so much that you give up before you start.” —Ilene Strauss Cohen Ph.D.
Having choices puts the onus on us which for anyone who has not been given such a responsiblity can cause trepidation, but with nearly anything worth pursuing, the outcome is never guaranteed, but also never achieved if never attempted. Attempt it anyway.
Attempting, making the choice, seizing the opportunities that speak to our curiosities becomes easier when we know ourselves more fully and completely. And the beautiful paradox is that we only come to know ourselves completely if we start making our own choices.
How can we begin to make our own choices or give ourselves the opportunity to be the chooser?
- Quiet yourself long enough to hear your curiosities speak. Do this regularly. You path forward will not be straight, but beautifully curvy and full of adventure and discoveries.
- Eliminate comparison with others, but if you choose to compare, only compare yourself to whom you were yesterday.
- Be financially independent regardless of your relationship status. (view all of TSLL’s Money posts in the Archives.)
- Learn how to say the word, the complete sentence, “No.” with confidence and without hesitation and without following it up with an apology or the feeling of guilt. Guilt is the weapon used by those who wish to disrespect our boundaries or passive aggressives who are insecure and therefore not living in such a way that is being true to themselves (learn how to set healthy boundaries for better relationships of all types.)
- Stop asking for recommendations and let yourself explore, taste-test, follow where your eye and your curiosities take you.
- Remind yourself that it is not your responsiblity to make other people happy. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness, and it is in our discovery of how to live happily that we inspire and teach others to do the same for themselves, but it is their choice, not ours to do so.
- Assess the healthy quotient of your closest relationships. Are they are a drain on your finite sources of energy or a boost of positive energy? Be honest. Edit or eliminate accordingingly. Amazing things, unexpected things, begin to happen when we leave room for others to enter into our lives.
- Examine assumptions of what you think you have to do or have in your life – people you “have” to have in your life, relationships that are supposed to bring happiness. Who taught you each assumption? What do they have to gain from teaching you these beliefs? If they have absolutely nothing to gain, then examine why you are questioning the assumption. If they have something to gain – family ties, monetary connection, heightened status, etc. – and the relationship does not elevate your life, assuage any guilt and let go at a speed you feel comfortable.
- Start making small decisions for yourself if you are new to doing so, and celebrate how your life begins to elevate. At a pace that is comfortable for you, begin to make larger, more significant, more in-alignment-with-your-true-self decisions, and watch as your life transforms for the better.
Choosing to be the navigator of your life exhilarates and terrifies, but based on my own experiences, the former grows while the latter lessens with each choice that is authentic to your true-self. It is much like a muscle: when you exercise being the chooser of your own life, it becomes easier and second-nature to do so, and the less you do it, the harder it becomes to decide anything on your own.
In becoming the chooser you are letting go of other people’s journeys as well, and letting them become the chooser for themselves. But the more you model how to navigate well your own life, you teach others to have the courage to do it as well.
Choice is freedom. Anyone who tries to limit or take away your choice is consciously or unconsciously trying to take away your freedom. While we cannot control another, we can control ourselves and vow to never take the choice away from someone else, as we would not want someone to take such an action against us. Likewise, give yourself the most awesome gift you can give by vowing to never squander your freedom of choice. Have patience with yourself, have confidence in yourself and while embracing in the unknown let yourself become excited about the possibilities of what having choice in your life could eventually create or bring into your daily experience.
Growth is a Choice: 11 Ways to Grow Up, episode #101
Why Not . . . Be Brave?, episode #83