Choice: an Effective Tool to Shed Feelings of Obligation
Many of us walk around feeling like we have limited choices in many aspects of our lives. Take notice of how many times a day you say the words have to, should, and need to. Whenever you feel like you must do something, you’re at the mercy of your thoughts or circumstances.
In fact, when you’re faced with a task or something to do, there are five basic ways you can respond, and of them, only one is by full conscious choice.
The five ways of responding are “I won’t,” “I have to,” “I need to,” “I want to,” or “I choose to.”
How you respond is your Choice
When you say “I won’t” do something, you’re saying that you have no power, that life happens to you, no matter what you do or believe. You don’t believe that you have a choice. You also don’t really think there’s anything in it for you – so why do it?
If you say “I have to,” you’re looking at the short term perspective. You “have to” complete the task in front of you, or else you will experience dire consequences. You feel forced to do it, and that you have very little to no choice.
The third response, “I need to” is a more powerful place to come from. Here, you’re aware of your choices and you seek to find the opportunity in the challenges presented to you. This perspective brings more chance of success, but it’s still a burden, because you don’t feel like you’re fully at choice.
So these three responses involve either non-action or action by force. Since you are not completely invested into a situation, goal, or project, and because you are bringing a negative attitude to it, you are also bringing a recipe for failure. So in these scenarios, even though you may think you are choosing to do something, at your core, you chose not to do it, or not to do it well.
The next response, “I want to,” is more empowering, because it indicates that you are mostly at choice. But, “want” still comes from a place of lack.
The most powerful response is “I choose to.” When you respond this way, you feel you have complete choice. There’s a powerful connection between who you are and what you do.
So how do you get to choose to? Simply come from a place of having everything, and choosing to experience, rather than fill a need. Easy? Not at all, but you can choose to work at it.
I recently had my own before and after experience in my life. Because of various commitments I decided to take on in the past couple of months, my calendar started to fill up. And fill up. And fill up. I would look at the week ahead and feel like a prisoner in my own life. Each morning I woke up with the attitude of “’X’ more hours or days until I can get a break.” I started feeling tired, overwhelmed, and burdened. I became annoyed at unexpected emails, phone calls, etc.
It occurred to me one morning that everything on my schedule was according to the plan I had created at the beginning of the year. I reexamined my calendar to confirm this. There were no “shiny objects” or things I should have said “no” to on my calendar. Everything I was doing was leading me to exactly where I wanted to be and I had designed it this way. I even gave myself the opportunity to remove myself from anything that did not serve me. Coming from that perspective nothing occurred like a burden or an obligation any longer. It was all in my court. I felt freedom and energy rush back to me after this little conversation with myself. Now, every morning I remind myself how lucky I am that my schedule is full and so many people want to work with me.
Where in your life to you feel “put upon” or burdened? Take another look and see how you have ultimate choice in the matter.