Our choices in life are usually limited.
That’s a fact. There’s no point in denying it.
That doesn’t mean we don’t HAVE choices, however.
We almost always DO have choices— particularly in what we focus on, how we interpret events, and how we choose to respond.
But we do need to acknowledge, realistically, that our choices are not infinite. They’re not unlimited. They’re often not ideal.
For some reason, lots of people get up in their heads about what having limited choices means out there in the real world.
They get it in their heads that because they don’t have an ideal selection of choices available, that means they are utterly devoid of any choices in a situation.
Or perhaps they get it in their heads that, since circumstances limit their ability to choose in the moment, that they are utterly powerless in a situation— that they shouldn’t even TRY to exercise their ability to choose, given the limited options available to them.
It’s a bummer that our choices are often limited, no doubt.
It’s a drag that our choices are often not ideal.
It would be preferable, at all times, to be able to choose from an infinite number of ideal options.
But even if we don’t live in that world— and I assure you, we do not— that doesn’t mean we should just give up and let others make our choices for us.
And believe me: if we fail to exercise our ability to choose, others WILL happily choose for us.
In fact, there are lots of individuals and organizations who are standing by, actively waiting, practically salivating at the notion of making our choices for us.
So sometimes our choices are limited, and our options aren’t great.
We need to accept this reality (remembering that ACCEPTING something is definitely not the same thing as LIKING it), suck it up, and get to choosing anyway.
We cannot construct a life we value, a life worth living, a life that conforms to our values and nudges us toward our goals, if we don’t accept our responsibility to make choices…even when we don’t like the options.
Very often, however, you’ll see people try to cop out of making choices because they don’t like the options.
They’ll cite many reasons for why they’re opting out of choosing— most of which come down to some variation of, “it doesn’t matter.”
They’ll make the argument that their options are SO limited, SO not-ideal, that even if they DO exercise their ability to choose, the ultimate outcome won’t be affected…so why bother?
It’s a convenient cop out when we’re looking for an excuse to not choose.
I won’t try to tell you that every choice you make is going to ultimately or overwhelmingly matter in how a situation turns out. That’s manifestly not true.
I will tell you, however, that it matters a great deal to your emotional health and self-esteem to choose when you have the opportunity.
Your brain is not dumb. It knows when you’re living on auto-pilot. It can tell when you’re not actively attempting to nudge toward your goals and live your values.
And while those objectives may not necessarily matter in the immediate external situation— they may not directly affect the outcome of the situation you find yourself in— they do have a tremendous affect on how you feel.
They impact your level of motivation.
They impact your level of life satisfaction.
it’s important not to cop out of our ability and responsibility to make choices not just because we can affect the world around us…but because it will definitely affect the world within us.
Choosing to not choose is a very reliable way to deepen depression.
Choosing not to choose is a very reliable way to heighten anxiety.
Choosing not to choose is a very reliable way to get good at choosing-not-to-choose— that is, it can become a pattern that gets deeper and harder to break out of every time it happens.
I hear you. It sucks when our choices aren’t great. I wish our choices were always infinite and awesome.
But even when they’re not, we need to step up.
For our own mental health and integrity, if nothing else.
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