‘You always have a choice, and you always make a choice.’
When John Grinder said this, I was sure he was wrong. After all, we sometimes have things imposed on us, and sometimes we have no control over what happens, and sometimes there seems to be no alternative, and sometimes others make decisions and we just go along with them.
It took me years to realise that he was right! The distinction isn’t between whether we have a choice or not, it’s between whether we make an active choice or a passive choice – bummer!!
Once you get this, it takes away all our excuses for being a victim of circumstance, and places the responsibility squarely on our own shoulders. And at the same time, this gives us the opportunity to be in full control of our own story.
We are all aware of our active choices, because we make them consciously. We decide to act or react in a situation in the way that feels right for us.
Passive choices are harder to spot, but symptoms include feeling like you have no control, or you can do nothing about it, or not speaking up when you know it would make a difference, or just feeling powerless. And in those circumstances, we can just take a moment to consider: what would make me feel better about this?
As soon as we ask the question, we are becoming active in our choice, even if we choose to do nothing. A simple example would be dealing with the weather – very relevant for me right now! We can bemoan the fact that it’s raining, the river is flooding, travel is difficult, or we can decide to dress for the weather and go out anyway, or to do something useful or fun at home. The weather doesn’t change, but our reaction to it does.
I have never felt comfortable with being a victim of circumstance – I’m obviously a control freak! And I certainly prefer the feeling of making an active choice – don’t you?