If you aren’t satisfied with how your life is unfolding, you only have one choice: choose again.
Your choices are the only control you have over your life.
You can’t demand that the world change to be more accommodating; if you need the world to change you have to choose to work towards changing it.
What’s a good way to remember this challenge? How about:
God, grant me the courage to change what I can change
the serenity to accept what I cannot change and
the wisdom to know the difference.
We live in a finite world where choices must be made. Every choice for something is a choice against something else.
You have made choices in your life. Each of these choices had a cost. You had to pick something you wanted more over something that you wanted less.
Maybe you wanted the other thing less simply because you knew it would be hard and difficult to attain it, because chasing it would take you out of your comfort zone and force you to pay a price. Maybe that cost would have been stigma, queerness, or some other manifestation of the fear of being separate, isolated, alone.
Every choice has a price. We are always deciding if we want what we want so much that we are willing to pay that price.
That price can easily be read as coercion, an attempt to force us to make more normative choices, choices that are not only easier for you but also for the people connected to you. Society always makes comfortable choices easier and less costly, supporting tame assimilation over wild and bold originality.
Making the right choice, the good choice, will always be harder than making the easy and short sighted choice. Resistance to change will always be easier than actual change.
Making the choice to claim your own creativity, your own difference, your own truth against the social pressure of those around us is always hard. We are always trying to squeeze between the expectations of others and our own desires and that often means we end up with machine made red shoes that dance us to a commercial beat and not to the different drummer of our own tender heart.
You made your choices. You paid the price, maybe in not quite fitting in, or maybe in feeling disconnected from your own passionate nature. You learned from those choices from how they worked out to how much they cost.
Now you have to make new choices. They won’t be perfect — humans don’t ever do perfect — but they should be full of hope, holding out the possibility of better, healthier, more actualized and blissful. You have much to learn and swinging the pendulum wide can help you find your centre.
Until you own your own choices — the choices you felt pressured to make, the choices that were a wild stab, the choices that didn’t work out so well, the choices that built the foundation for a better life — you can’t make your next choices with power, authority and grace.
Seeing things as they are, seeing your choices as they were, is the basis for making bold and well considered choices that have the best chance of being for the better.
Owning your own choices means that you have to acknowledge some of your choices as reactionary, acknowledge them as resistance to making what you know to be the better choice for whatever reason. That reason may be fear, it may be comfort, or it may even be arrogance, deliberately creating self sabotage just to say “Fuck You!” to the world.
People are more revealed and more shaped by the choices that we resist than by the choices we make. The choice not to make a choice, to resist making a choice, is one of the strongest and most insidious choices we can ever make. What we avoid reveals an enormous amount about us.
Until you can see your own resistance and have compassion for it, you can’t own choices. If you can’t own your choices, you can’t own your life. Instead, you are buffeted by the world, even as you may be explaining how cruel that world is for pushing you to choice, even as you whinge about the way every choice has a price.
No human can live only on a diet of virtue. Our choices reveal our vitality, showing the passions of our life. They show what we love, what we fear, where we are strong and where we are broken. We make choices from emotion and drives, not just from logic, so our choices reveal the forces inside of us in ways that nothing else can.
Our choices can guide us to insight, to understanding why we feel the way we do and resist the way we do, but only if we own them rather than looking for ways to justify and rationalize them, looking for some force to blame for our own actions. We do live in an imperfect and illogical world, full of people acting out of less than perfect and considered motives, but the only imperfection, flawed logic and hidden motives we have any direct control over are our own.
I know that I am driven by my own worn, battered and painful emotions and they are the source of my resistance. They are also, though, the source of my vulnerability, my openness to the feelings of others and of my feelings, as true and useful and powerful as any attempt to override them with willpower or walls to force me to do the proper thing.
My own choices are often messy and irrational, full of resistance that comes from a lifetime of scars, habits, limits and desires. It is only by owning them, though, that I can possibly move towards healing and growth, only by having compassion for my own humanity that I can be open, kind and caring for others who struggle with their own resistance, with their own choices. This is the obligation of the wounded healer, of someone committed to their own transformation and actualization.
Freedom exists in the moment between stimulus and response, in that instant when we choose between routine habit and considered choice. If we don’t own that choice, learning from it in a way which lets us make better choices in the future, we have no way of creating change and getting different and new results.
Owning your choices rather than blaming them on the circumstances which prompted you to make them is the only way to take power over the direction of your life.
Owing your choices is the only way that allows you the wisdom to accept what you can change and the courage to change what you can change.