What Are You Choosing to Do?
Do you spend your days doing what you should do or what you choose to do? My guess is that you do what you have to do or what you think you’re supposed to do.
We wouldn’t want to be irresponsible or disappoint someone – right? That’s what I was taught.
Here’s why we lean towards doing what we have to do:
Young children are directed as they learn. They are told what to do, how to do it, and where to be. They attach meaning to when they are rewarded or punished for their actions, and they learn what is and what is not acceptable by watching what goes on between the adults in their family. They take in the visuals of how the adults show love to them and to each other – as well as how conflict works through the unspoken messages of loud voices, angry tears, or high tension in the air. During those formative years, children learn how to follow and what to avoid.
Many of us figured out that it was more important to do what other people wanted us to do rather than what we wanted to do. For example, it probably wasn’t okay to wear mismatched clothes, not do your schoolwork, or be rambunctious. So we followed those rules.
Most of us were NOT guided by our parents, teachers, and caregivers to consider our own choices or preferences. We learned to make decisions based on what we were taught or what we observed from others according to their choices. These are decisions mostly made out of obedience, obligation, guilt, or fear rather than focused on what WE wanted.
Those formative years were the reality we knew and learned, and brought into adulthood. Today, while we believe we are thinking and choosing like adults, we may not be aware that actually we may be drawing from that childhood experience.
You are no longer that same helpless, dependent, powerless child.
The world is different now, and so are you. You know A LOT more than you did as that child about what’s true for you and right for you. Yet…it can still be a challenge when we say to ourselves, “I’m going to make my own decisions and I’m going to have fun and no one’s going to tell me what to do!” And then we come up against all those subconscious messages about what is “acceptable” and what is not.
If you ever wonder why you have a difficult time choosing to do what you want or to put yourself first, consider those messages the child in you learned, like: “Don’t be selfish” or “Make us proud” or “You have to work hard to get anywhere in life” or “Don’t brag!”
You’re a grownup now, you have everything in front of you to be happy and have fun and play and make choices that work for you – even when things in life don’t always go your way. You get to choose how you decide to respond!
I invite you to consider a different way to think about some of your choices. You don’t have any teacher or parent or others to please anymore – that past is no longer you. Try taking a fresh look at the choices you make – ones that focus on YOU!
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I choose to do for fun?
- What do I choose to do because I prefer it?
- What do I choose to do because it matters most to me?
How does it feel to consider what you want? It should feel good!
Now, what small step — what one thing — will you do for you?