It can be so easy, in the course of day-to-day life, to get swept along. Sometimes you just go with the flow, almost on automatic pilot. Sometimes those decisions are brilliant. Sometimes - not so much.
When you look back at your actions, do you ever find yourself saying, "I had no choice"? Do you ever find yourself blaming someone else for your behaviour?
Maybe it was how you responded in a moment of pure frustration. You could have forced yourself to pause and take a breath, but you didn't. You could have foreseen the argument that would ensue, but you "couldn't" help yourself. You screamed out of anger, blaming someone else.
Maybe it was the food you decided to eat. You could have said no or made or bought a healthier choice, but you didn't. You ate what was there, blaming other people for trying to sabotage you or not caring.
Maybe it was when you felt overwhelmed or over scheduled to start with. You could have said no, or not right now, to that request, but you didn't. You could have respectfully taken that stand for yourself, your priorities and your values, but you pushed them aside for the moment. You said yes, building resentment and anger at the person who made the request.
Now, this isn't to say that any of us is expected to be perfect. We all slip at some point, maybe at many points. For long-time readers of mine, you know I don't believe that perfection is even possible, let alone a goal we should be pursuing. Improvement, yes. Perfection - not really. It just makes you feel worse about yourself when you don't live up to the impossible expectation that is perfection.
So what can you do to remind yourself that the choice is up to you when you really feel like you had no choice?
- When you hear yourself saying, "I don't have a choice," remind yourself that you do have a choice. Say something like, "This is MY choice" or "I DO have a choice" or "I can do things differently this time."
- Even if you feel like you don't have any choice, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath, and ask yourself, "How could I respond in a more productive/healthier way if I DID have a choice?" Maybe ask yourself how someone you admire would react in a similar type of situation - then see if you can react that way.
- Reflect on situations where you wish you could change how you reacted or the choice you made. Look at the triggers that seemed to put you into automatic response. Were there earlier signs where you could have made a different, conscious choice? How can you use this knowledge in the future?
RECOMMENDED READING: What It Really Means to Care
Sign up at http://www.heartandsoulliving.com to receive your free "You Already Know" worksheets to help you get started.