Back I was in college, I got accepted into a very selective program to spend a semester abroad.
But I didn’t get accepted into the scholarship program of the chosen school abroad. I didn’t have any money for this, and so did my family.
So then I had no choice but to give up the opportunity.
The Illusion Of Having No Choice.
We find ourselves saying the words “I have no choice” far too many times. And even that statement alone can mean different things:
I have no choice because I feel this is the right way to do things; the only way to do this.
I have no choice because this is only what I’ve got. I can’t do anything about it.
I have no choice because I have no control, I’ve just been put in this situation. It’s them.
I have no choice because if I pick any other choice, I’d be worse off.
You always have a choice.
You can choose to go against your current plan of action, and end up worse off. That’s still a choice, one you’d rather not, and will not, make.
Just recognizing the different choices you have in your situation, and your capability to make them, frees your mind and will, and cultivates your power over your self and your situation.
Because the choices you make affect you, your environment, and the results you get.
Recognize what you have and what is possible.
The truth is, when we say that we “don’t have a choice,” it just means we are not aware of the possibilities and choices we have in a present situation.
I always thought that getting a scholarship was the right way, the only way, to go about making sure I could fly out and spend a semester abroad. But was it the only way?
I knew the total of the tuition and fees required, but I didn’t find out the total expenses and funds required to make the trip. Instead of relying on the scholarship, and family and my own money, was there anything I could’ve done to raise the money instead?
And looking back, that maybe would’ve meant hard work. Did I want it enough? Would any other choice made me feel worse off? Did I feel I want it enough?
We judge the choices we think of and discount them first, before we even recognize the possibilities that lie within those choices.
Explore possibilities and choices, then judge and choose. Not the other way around.
The Power Over Self.
Choices mean a certain amount of control, but what if there are situations where we literally can’t control anything?
A few months ago, I read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, a recounting of his experiences as a prisoner in the Nazi death camps in Germany.
In it, he was always ordered and pushed around by his captors. His life was literally in their hands, at their every whim.
But Viktor Frankl recognized that he always had a choice. Even in the face of such oppression, he still had what he called, “the last human freedom.”
“to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
You always have a choice, and it involves how you think and feel about a given situation. What you choose to do with your feelings, viewpoints, attitudes, and emotions.
So when you say that you “have no choice.” You actually still have one last choice – how you accept and view that choice you’re making.
You can choose to either make it, put yourself into a better and more positive state, or send yourself into a downward spiral.
There is one thing you always have a choice over – the way you think and the way you feel.
You have the power to determine how you feel, not other people.
Remember, you have the power, unless you give it away.
Don’t give it away.
You have the power.
In whatever situation you’re put in, you always have a choice.
And the first step is to recognize it, to be aware of it, to be mindful of it.
That you always have a choice.
It may be choices you can’t readily see and accept.
It may be choices that help you come to terms with the past, to bring you into the present.
It may be choices that don’t have a big impact in the now, but have tremendous impact in the future.
It may be choices that you don’t want to take, or are afraid to.
It may be choices that go against what you believe in, what you hold dear.
And it’s up to you.
You’ve got the power.
You always have a choice.
Have you ever felt that you had no choice in a situation? Please share in the comments below!
- Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor Frankl