by David Bohl
Are you aware that you are at choice in every area of your life?
When I ask that question of my personal coaching clients they sometimes get very quiet, then say, “No. I don’t feel like I make all my own choices.” That’s a very common response. Many people feel like other people make choices for them, dictate what they “should” do, how they should do it, when they should do it, what they should eat, what they should wear, etc.
It begins, of course, with our parents. Until we’re at an age where they can trust us to make our own, correct decisions, they make our choices for us. If they were controlling, over-protective parents, they may not have instilled in us the opportunity to develop our ability to make our own wise decisions. Thus, we may have grown into adults still looking to others to choose our life situations. Or they may have taught us how to choose and take responsibility for our choices and we became confident, self-assured adults.
After parents, we had our teachers make choices for us. They taught us what and how to think, and hopefully the better teachers, taught us how to think for ourselves. During school peer pressure was at its height, so we dressed like our friends or the most popular kids in school, we hung out where the crowds hung out, and if we succumbed to peer pressure we may have taken up smoking or even worse!
As adults, we’re constantly bombarded with society’s messages through the media. TV, newspapers, and magazines shout at us to buy this product, eat or drink this, wear this, do that. It’s no wonder so many of us forget we have the ability to choose for ourselves. It’s just that we’ve forgotten how because so many others have been doing it for us for so long.
If you are ready to say “YES” to personal choice, great! It’s time to sit down and take an honest look at your life and see what areas are working for you, and what areas are ones that you have chosen and are happy with. And then look and see where you are living someone else’s choices–maybe for your work, your home, your lifestyle. You may still be living your parent’s choices, or your spouse’s choices, or your community’s.
If you are ready to say “YES” to personal choice, here are some actions you can take:
1. KNOW that you have free will and personal choice.
Yes, we all have free will and we can all make our own choices. If this is something new for you, it may take a while to get used to it. If you live in an oppressive environment, perhaps with a spouse who “tries” to make your choices, you will have more of a challenge breaking free. But as you come to believe this, begin with small choices. Notice when you eat something, or do something, or go somewhere and it’s not your choice. Ask yourself, “What would be my choice in this situation?” Then order the meal YOU want to eat, or choose the movie YOU want to see, and notice how that feels. As you practice making your own choices, you will get better at it and feel more comfortable.
2. GIVE UP victimhood and become the victor.
If you have been playing victim for years, under the thumb of a controlling parent or spouse or other, it’s time to break free. Your first step is to acknowledge your situation, then make a decision that you will no longer put up with it. You may choose to work with a life coach who can help you make new choices on your own. No one should ever stay in the victim role when through personal choice you can switch your role to victor.
3. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for everything in your life.
If you’ve always thought others were responsible for your life, you can change that belief. We are all responsible for our lives, for our choices, for our results–for everything. You are even responsible for giving up responsibility and turning it over to another person. You may have felt that abdicating responsibility felt safer because being responsible is too much power and not everyone wants that. But it’s also a place of great freedom. You no longer have to blame others for your circumstances–you are free to choose your own. When you take responsibility for everything in your life, if you don’t like the outcome, you can change the choices you made and create a different outcome.
4. TAKE RISKS, step outside all that’s safe and familiar.
When you say YES to personal choice, you can exercise your freedom to say and do and be and have whatever you want. If you’ve always eaten spaghetti and meatballs at an Italian restaurant, next time try lasagna or eggplant parmesan. If you’ve always vacationed at your time share in Hawaii, next year go to Paris. As you step more and more into personal choice and get comfortable with it, test yourself by doing new, exciting things with your life.
5. MONITOR YOUR THOUGHTS, they are your power of creation.
Personal choice begins with knowing yourself, knowing what you like, who you are. If you’ve never been introspective, start to listen to your thoughts. Take five minutes every day and sit quietly and listen. Ask yourself questions and listen for the answers. Write in a journal. As you get more comfortable listening to your inner dialogue, keep your thoughts positive and supportive. As you step into your power and exercise your personal choice, your positive thoughts will support you in creating positive outcomes.
Enjoy your life to the fullest as you say YES to personal choice.
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