The Power to Choose
Over the past week the repercussions of our choices have been foremost in my mind, and more importantly the reason we make the choices that we make. This has brought to mind the question – are we free to choose? Or more importantly, do we believe we can choose our life path?
Freud talks about the ego states – and how our super ego develops. This is the part of us that learns to conform to the external expectations of our environment so that we can survive. This starts from childhood and continues into adulthood.
It shows up in school classrooms where we must ‘follow the rules’ or be excluded from the lessons. We are told we must conform to the expectations of the teacher and environment to succeed. And yet so often those ‘norms’ are not supportive of our learning or growth at all. A child with learning difficulties needs to work differently than those with ADHD, or the highly intelligent.
And so we learn to moderate. The smart child dumbs down, the child with difficulties fails to thrive, the ADHD child gets labelled disruptive. There is a saying “you don’t judge the intelligence of a fish by its ability to climb a tree’. And yet in life we often do!
Then as we grow older there are pressures to follow the career path our parents choose for us, make a ‘suitable’ marriage that fits our social norms, to buy a house, have 2.5 children, a dog, a cat and a rabbit. And somewhere along the way we often form the opinion that we are not good enough, worthy enough, intelligent enough or free enough to choose the path for ourselves.
So 10, 20, 30 years in we are in a job we hate, a toxic relationship, medical issues, a financial anchor around our neck and dreams of sailing off into the sunset to gain peace, clarity and our sense of self once again. To find the parts of ourselves that were buried or lost along the way. And we are faced with a wall of regret and sorrow, and a belief that we have no choice, and we still cannot choose freely.
So I am here to invite you to consider if you firstly feel free to choose – and secondly would know what to choose if you were?
You see in the mix of the development of the super ego, and the ‘you musts’ we sometimes develop beliefs and values that are imposed upon us, that when looked at closely never really resonated, yet for survival our superego conformed to these beliefs.
You can see these in your life when you think of a value-based choice and somewhere in that thought is a ‘what would my (Grandmother/mother/uncle/preacher) think’. This is the hint that you are embodying a belief that may not even be yours.
So step one – tune into what is true for you, rather than what you have absorbed as truth from others.
When you have identified what has value for you, then comes the assessment of whether you feel free to choose. If you are worried that you will upset those around you, cause drama, anger, rejection for choosing what has value for you – then it may be time to check in and see if you have given your power to choose away.
Some years ago someone said to me – you have a good girl driver going on. I was shocked. I had never heard of such a thing – but after some self-reflection I could see it clearly.
This past week I was presented with an opportunity to reach out to someone from my past – and I very nearly didn’t do it because I was scared of causing a stir, upsetting people and getting in trouble. Fortunately for me I have valuable people who helped me debunk this idea.
If something has value for you it will very likely cause a stir when you go after it. The question is how important is it to you to have the freedom to choose! Would you rather repeat the patterns and stay stuck, and in grief and regret, by repeating these patterns of choosing to keep others happy, or would you rather reap the rewards, joy, freedom and personal growth that comes from choosing freely?
That is not to say we should disregard others feelings and experiences, nor be nasty and unthoughtful about it. We can choose and still act with love and compassion. After all it is in our power and willingness to choose our heart and soul path that we can shine forth and bring true abundance to the world and those around us.
By allowing others to choose for us, and potentially staying in misery for the privilege, are we denying the world the blessings that can come from following our soul path?
Only you know the answer for your life – because after all to say differently would deny you the power to choose.