The Power of Choice

Our ability to make choices is one of the most powerful facilities that we have in dealing with our reality.  However, there are times when we feel that we don't have any choice and often that is accompanied by a sense of powerlessness.  This may be when we are in a tough situation and may also be connected to our fears, defences and blockages around certain issues that we have.

One way to reclaim some sense of personal power in these situations is to acknowledge that the decision not to act or not act differently is a choice itself.  With compassion for ourselves, we can acknowledge that in a particular situation we are too scared to make a different choice, that making a change feels too daunting or that we are simply not ready.  We can acknowledge that we would rather stay put and continue with what we're doing: staying in a job that offers financial security but little else; staying in a relationship that is no longer working because we don't know where we would be without it.

Here, choice is linked to ownership.  If we can acknowledge that by choosing not to act we are actively involved in creating the situation, then we can also acknowledge that at some point in the future we may feel able to do so and things could change.  If we think that it's only about 'them doing this to me' then we will indeed feel powerless and more than likely harbour bitterness and resentment towards 'them'.

Choice is a skill that needs practice and with practice can become more effective and more powerful.  In this way, making decisions about the 'small stuff' can help us to tackle the bigger choices that we face.  Exercising choice can instantly bring us back to our sense of personal power, even if those choices are about mundane things.  I remember many years ago waking up from a dream in which I was in a truck on a road that was narrowing down to nothing - no options, no choices, nothing.  I felt really shaken, but remembering that choice links to our sense of power, I started to think about all the choices I could make 'right now'.  I could turn the light on.  I could go downstairs.  I could make a cup of tea.  I could eat something.  I could read a book.  I could turn the TV on.  I could try to get back to sleep.  Going through the options that I had, the things I could do 'right now', I started to feel calmer and reclaimed the sense of myself as an effective person.

Conversely, there can be times when we feel that we have too many choices, when we are in the fortunate position of being faced with options that are all appealing or beneficial for us.  This is a wonderful position to be in, but can also create anxiety.  This anxiety may be linked to thinking that there are always 'right' and 'wrong' options when a choice is being made.  This isn't so and we might find that troubling if we are hooked into trying to discover a set of rules that tells us the 'right' way to live our lives.

Choice implies that we have free will.  Free will suggests that there is no predetermined course our lives have to take.  This raises all sorts of metaphysical questions that go beyond the scope of this article, but I'd just like to suggest the following.  As human beings with choice and free will we are creators.  We have the power to create our own lives.  For some this might negate the need for a spiritual dimension to existence.  But for others, like me, it doesn't.  It just means that my relationship to and conception of All That Is is different to those who believe in a God who rewards or punishes those who do or do not comply with His will.

A new choice always precipitates change.  This is both scary and exciting.  Although our choice may determine the direction that change might take, it is out of our control how it will play out.  It is important to remember, though, that we have the ability to make fresh choices in response to what's happening, we continue to have the ability to choose as our life unfolds.

Leigh Osborne, Copyright July 2017

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