In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey describes a moment where, in encouraging his daughter to share a toy, he inadvertently robs her of her agency and her right to choose. He makes the point that, to really share something, one must first have a full sense of possessing it, of it being ours to give.
It is similar with me and choices. For me to fully live my choices and be at peace with their consequences, I must feel that they are mine to make. I don’t think I realised until tonight how important it is to me to feel that my choices are my own, and how much the feeling of doing something because it is expected of me makes me feel like a hollow shell of a person.
Choosing what I want to do and then acting on that choice feels like the most empowering thing I could possibly do, even if the choice has really terrible consequences. I wonder if it is possible now to reframe my choices, and reframe the narrative of my life that plays in my own head, to remind myself more frequently, and more clearly, that everything I have done in life has been a choice. That even if I didn’t feel that much of what I have done in the past was of my own choosing, that the very process of declining to choose or evading choice is in itself a decision (just not one that I should be very proud of).
And most of all, in reframing those past choices and understanding my reasons for making them, perhaps I can reinforce to myself the message that every moment I find myself in constitutes a choice, that situations can always be altered, that my fear of being trapped or stagnating is a misplaced one. That moment to moment, situations can be altered and different choices made in the future than in the past. Meaning not that bad decisions are reversible, but just that better ones can be made in the future.