Stop Pretending Like You Have No Choice
It’s easy to make choices when it seems as if there is no choice. When we decide things are beyond our control, and there is simply no way we can make something happen, it’s very easy to just say, “I can’t.”
What’s hard, then, is to say, “I’m choosing not to,” but I think this is a bit more accurate. It stings, but it’s true, and that’s all too often what the truth does.
I was reading some social media something or other this morning where the person said, “I can’t afford those clothes” in reference to a specific brand of clothing. I’ve fallen victim to this line of reasoning myself—too many times, even— because it’s, like I said, very easy.
It’s so easy for me to say, “I don’t have time for that,” instead of, “I’m sorry, that’s just not how I want to spend my time this afternoon.” But that’s more true! It’s also easy to say, “I can’t afford to go to that concert I really want to go to,” rather than say, “I can afford it, but I’ll have to cut back on other things in order to make it a comfortable choice for myself.”
Of course, this isn’t how we would speak even if we were totally honest with ourselves. That’s not the case I’m making.
The case I’m making is one of choice and how we choose everyday, even when we act like we aren’t or can’t.
“I can’t wake up that early.”
“I don’t have time to wash clothes after I’ve worked a full day.”
“I can’t afford to eat like that/dress like that/look like that.”
“I don’t have the luxury of free time to start a blog like you did.”
(I’ve actually heard that and felt like the person was right and that I was a semi-loser for having “free time,” then realized ain’t no time free—this is a choice I made and something I continue to prioritize. Hmph. *z-snaps* *pursed lips* *total satisfaction*)
It’s all a choice, but choices are hard, so we make it easy by just eliminating them before we have to make them. Like the girl who’s comment I read this morning claiming she “couldn’t” afford something, it’s worth our time to be honest and sit down and think about what that really means.
I think what “I can’t afford that,” and“I don’t have time,” really means is: “I choose to spend my money elsewhere” and “I choose to prioritize my time otherwise.”
Not only are we relinquishing control of our power to choose when we think like this, we’re also victimizing ourselves and thinking we are unique in how much money we earn or time we have. And I think that sometimes feels good, too. It feels good to believe we’re “special” in our circumstances, and that’s why we “can’t” do certain things.
The truth is though,there are so many choices to make! Every day, every hour, every minute. But because we have experienced the direct correlation between the number of options we have and the level of difficulty in deciding (I’m sure there’s some scientific study on this somewhere), we subconsciously make the choices fewer, or eradicate them completely.
We have experienced this “more choice, more difficulty in deciding” correlation with restaurant menus, clothing stores, and bars with dozens of beers on tap (heard it from a friend, Mom.)
It’s hard to choose when there’s a lot to choose from, and we all know this, so why not just make the options limited—better yet, pretend there are no other options!—and say “I can’t.”
It’s not the truth, but it’s easier than the truth.
However, I have found that making a habit of choosing the tough, honest option, of thinking “I can, I’m just not willing to,” changes so much. It changes how we spend our time and our money and how we invest our feelings, and it also changes how we see others.
Most importantly, when we begin to choose our lives instead of letting our circumstances make choices for us, it changes who we are in a way we couldn't have imagined, and it makes our lives intentional.
I’m all about that.