#70: The Antidote for "I Don't Have a Choice"

Sep 21, 2023
Kirsten Parker
#70: The Antidote for "I Don't Have a Choice"

"I don't have a choice."

A true statement when we're talking about why you're not transporting yourself instantaneously to a vineyard in the rolling hills outside Montepulciano.

Not so true when we're talking about why you're going to a PTA meeting. Or picking up the dinner tab. Or keeping quiet when you want better assignments at work.

"I don't have a choice" is one of the most toxic ideas out there. 

And we believe it...even when we're not talking about the laws of physics!

In this episode, we talk about how to detox this poison from your mindset -- and exactly what to do when this thought comes up, to land on an empowered choice!)

Empowered decisions are those made in full awareness of your agency.

You recognize that you’re an autonomous being, in charge of your actions, and you consciously exercise that power.

“Empowered” is such a big word that we typically associate this idea with BIG decisions. Making the empowered choice to leave a marriage or follow your dream career.

But as you may very well know, if you’re a long-time Decision Masters listener, the small decisions are the big decisions. How you make your choices is a pretty cohesive system – if you regularly make SMALL empowered decisions, you’re more likely to make the BIG ones.

Unfortunately, the small decisions are often the easiest to NOT feel empowered in. That’s what we’re talking about today.

The little things where you really feel like “I don’t have a choice.”

I’d like you to pay attention to that this week. See what you’re doing, agreeing to, showing up for, what you’re saying no to, feel cut off from, where you feel limited or forced or obligated. See where it feels like you don’t have a choice.

Because if you can eliminate this way of thinking from your decision-making, you will create a ripple effect in all of your choices that you can’t even fathom.

I’ve seen people do this in our coaching. When they’re willing to change their minds about how they see the little things – which takes work, but I’ll tell you how in a second – they see everything differently. They start looking at their jobs, relationships, lifestyles from an empowered lens, totally aware of their agency, and they make empowered choices they wouldn’t have been able to even see otherwise!

They leave jobs, set boundaries, cultivate deep connection, move cities, use their time to make art, teach family members to change their expectations, they feel happier, they prioritize their happiness, and they feel in charge of their choices.

If this is what you want, keep listening.

When you notice the thinking “I don’t have a choice” I want to you simply ask Why? What’s stopping me or what’s forcing me?

Your answer is either going to be an idea, a commitment or a desire.

Example: "I don’t have a choice but to go to work." Why? What’s forcing you to do that?

Don’t get lazy here. Your brain might want to answer “Um, because everyone has to, duh? Next question.” Really think: What is compelling you to keep going to work?

It’ll be something like the IDEA of how hard life would be without income, or the COMMITMENT you made to yourself or your family, or the DESIRE to achieve something meaningful & fulfilling there.

Every situation is different, that’s why I’m giving you these options to scan for. What you’re training yourself to do by answering these questions is finding the reasons behind your choices.

Ideas & commitments & desires are all THOUGHTS. They’re the reasons you (deliberately or not) choose to do things. They’re the ultimate driving force behind decisions.

And to make empowered decisions, you have to know and like your reasons.

You might not feel like you have a choice in going to Aunt Sally’s for Thanksgiving. Why? “The idea of listening to her complain about us not going is unbearable.”

Ok, you found your reason behind deciding to go to Aunt Sally’s.

Now to make an empowered choice, you’re going to ask: Do I like that reason?

Listen closely here because this is the key to upgrading your entire decision-making system. The tricky truth is that you can make the same decision in the end – you can go to Aunt Sally’s, you can stay at your job, you can not take the vacation.

What makes those empowered decisions vs. disempowered choices is if you know and like your reasons for making them.

You’re not going to love every choice you make. You’re going to fly across the country to be with a sick family member when you have the most important work opportunity on the calendar. You’re going to report a really great revenue year to the IRS and pay them lots of your hard-earned cash for taxes. You’re going to sit and listen to someone in grief when you know it’s going to make you feel miserable.

Empowered choices still cost us time, money & energy.

They still result in negative emotions and even negative consequences.

But when you own them, you retain your power.

And that agency lets you experience whatever happens next with more resilience, because you feel in charge of what you’re doing (even if you don’t love it).

And it lets you see whatever happens next with greater perspective (allowing you to make different choices than you would if you were operating on “I don’t have a choice” fuel)!


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