A statement that I often hear, and am also fond of repeating quite frequently is – I don’t have a choice. After years of hearing and making this self defeating statement, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that this is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. Not that this realisation has stopped me from taking this easy way out.But what I am very sure of now is this- We always, always and ALWAYS have a choice. What we don’t like are the consequences of that choice. But choice we always have.
I think the reason we like to take this route is because it’s the easy way out – to feel like a victim in the hands of a variety of forces- destiny, fate, karma. Call it what you will, the only constant is this feeling of powerlessness, of being a victim. Maybe it’s a bad job that you are “stuck” in; or perhaps it’s a bad relationship that you realise just isn’t working for you anymore; or perhaps a city that you don’t want to live in. All of us have, at some time or the other, found ourselves in a situation or place in life that we don’t want to be in. How we ended up there really is irrelevant- bad decisions, bad choices or well bad karma! The essential thing at that point of time is what we choose to do henceforth.
I think I have spent a better part of my life feeling this way – living my life with a feeling that I don’t have a choice. When my son was very young, I felt I had no choice but to quit my job and be a full time mother- a decision that is for no one else to make or judge but mine alone. However, it is this “no choice” rant that, in retrospect, I feel is the most debilitating. Now, with the wisdom and clarity that are the gifts of hindsight, I can say that yes I had a choice. It was the consequences of that choice that I did not like. I could have left my son with a maid; or perhaps my mother or my mother in law; or explored day care centres. That is not to say that the alternatives were easy to come by or to put in place. But they were there- I chose not to exercise them as I didn’t like the consequences- delegating, and to that extent compromising I felt, my child’s upbringing.
So very often I hear people talk about a bad job or an abusive relationship but they choose to continue suffering anyways. Reason? I don’t have a choice. But what they don’t want are the consequences of that choice. Perhaps it means losing the children if one walks out of a bad marriage; perhaps ones house and financial security, independence or at times your very life, as you have known it till now. The choice is difficult no doubt. But the choice is there. If you choose to continue in a bad relationship or job, do so but as a conscious decision rather than as a victim.Every choice has a consequence but the important thing to realise is that there is a “choice”.
I read a post by Elizabeth Gilbert sometime ago where she touches on something similar and points out very succinctly that the problem often is that there is no Plan B in place. The fear of the unknown, unfamiliar is indeed unnerving. And it’s alright to be scared. In fact, as she says , it’s alright to not even have a Plan B. It’s alright to know “Not This” even when you don’t know what else. I don’t know what else, but definitely “Not This”. From there follows the rest. Unknowingly we make our comfort zones and fall into repetitive behaviour patterns that are difficult to break out of. The comfort may be just the familiarity of a situation, even if a bad one, and the absence of a vacuum rather than any comfort per se. A bad marriage or bad job may be just filling up gaping hole that would otherwise suck you into its vortex. To face that, is to my mind ,infinitely better than living a life of denial, of a victim. Choose to continue or walk out. But either way, do so consciously.
Life is way too precious to be wasted as a compromise and more importantly, to be lived as a by stander, an onlooker of your own life. Every moment, every day needs to be cherished, to be lived consciously as a choice. Life indeed is for the living and definitely not for the walking dead who pass off as the living. To quote a cliche, what is the end of the caterpillar is in fact the beginning of a butterfly and unless you put an end to self defeating patterns, nothing new will emerge. Rather than go down without a fight, let’s “Go to the Mattresses”!