I’m a firm believer in the power of choice; of having options to choose from, and recognizing that the choice is ultimately yours.
Talking about that thing you hate.
I’ve had this discussion with friends; you know the one, where they’re complaining about something they hate.
Sometimes they’re just letting off steam, in which case I’m happy to play the part of the sympathetic ear.
But sometimes, that thing they hate is something I’ve been hearing about for awhile. And it doesn’t seem to be changing any. So I ask, what can they do to change the situation?
The common response is, “there’s nothing I can do.” My response to that is, there are always options.
It’s not a very popular response…
Responsibility for sale. Going cheap.
The thing is, it is easy to just give up responsibility; after all, if there’s nothing you can do anyway, then you don’t have to bother trying. You can just sit there and be miserable and let someone else shoulder the blame.
The problem with this approach is that when you relinquish responsibility, when you deny the existence of options, you also relinquish your power.
That’s a really important point. So important that I’m going to be annoying and redundant, and say it again. (Highlighted and in italics even!)
When you deny your responsibility, you deny your power.
You give up power over your life, your happiness, your well-being… you hand it all to someone else.
You make it their responsibility.
And I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but they already have their hands full worrying about their own life, their own happiness and well-being. So yours is just going to have to wait.
Reclaiming your power.
On the other hand, you could stand up, look the situation square in the face, and say, “This is my life! I make the decisions around here, and I always have a choice!”
*You can also whisper it quietly to yourself, or just write it in your journal. You don’t really have to be all in-your-face confrontational about it. Really, just do what works for you. The important thing is acknowledging responsibility, and the power that goes along with it.
Granted, it’s not always that easy. Actually, it’s almost never that easy. If it were, we wouldn’t spend so much time and energy avoiding doing it.
But if you have the courage to do it, it can be incredibly powerful and freeing.
Ok, ok… I can hear you frothing at the bit to disagree with me.
Someone is saying, “That sounds nice, but you don’t understand, I don’t have a choice! I hate my shitty job, with my horrible boss and the lousy pay, and the hours that keep me from spending time with my family. But the economy is shot, I have bills to pay, mouths to feed; I have to work this soul-sucking job until there’s nothing left of me but a withered husk of a once-vibrant human being!”
Oh honey! First of all, that is just awful! I wish I could take you out of that painful, miserable place, and make everything better for you. Nobody should have to spend so much of their life doing something they hate so very much.
Unfortunately, I can’t do anything for you, not as long as you refuse to see that you do have options.
The thing is, and I know you aren’t going to like hearing this, but it’s for your own good… you do have a choice. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
You may not like your options, but they exist.
Options. You have them.
Let’s look at our hypothetical, yet sadly typical, Average Jane; Jane hates her job, but she has a family that relies on her, and bills that need to be paid. In Jane’s current view of things, she is powerless.
She feels unable to change her situation; as she sees it, her boss doesn’t appreciate her or the work she does. Her boss couldn’t care less about her personal life, and constantly expects her to sacrifice time with her family in order to meet company obligations.
Jane is miserable, but doesn’t think she can do anything about it, because her boss holds all the power.
Jane has given sole responsibility for her situation to her boss, whom she hates*
I can’t help but wonder, why anyone would ever give something so important and personal to someone they don’t like?
Well, we’ll just have to assume that Jane simply doesn’t know any better. Don’t worry Jane, we’re going to help you out.
In my version of reality, Jane has many options;
She could quit, for one. Of course, then she wouldn’t be able to pay her bills, and her family could starve. They might lose their home.
Jane loves her family, she wants good things for them (like food and shelter).
So maybe she doesn’t want to quit after all. But now, instead of having to do this thing she hates because she has no choice, Jane is choosing to stay because she loves her family.
Now, when Jane is in the middle of hating her job, she can go to this love that she has inside of herself, and use it as a reminder of her own power over her life.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean Jane has to just suck it up and deal with a shitty job “for the sake of her family.”
After all, that kind of thinking is putting the responsibility back on someone else – the family – and eventually Jane will be right back where she was, miserable and blaming someone else. Plus, she could end up resenting her family for “making” her work a job she hates. And nobody wants that!
But wait, she has options! (So many options!)
She could try talking to her boss about ways to make the job more enjoyable. Who knows, maybe the boss isn’t such a jackass after all, maybe Jane just wasn’t giving him a chance to not suck.
Then again, maybe Jane’s boss really is an ass, and is totally unwilling to work with Jane on the whole not-hating-her-job thing. In that case, Jane could keep working, while looking for a new job.
Or she could start her own business.
Or maybe she and her family would decide to cut back on expenses, save up, and move to New Zealand!
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Then again… just in case… the point is, you always have options. It might be scary to think about those options, and it certainly won’t be easy to take responsibility for those options, but remember;
With great responsibility, comes great power.