Choice. It’s my current buzzword. Something I’ve been reminding my clients of on a regular basis and also myself and those around me.
As human beings we all have freewill. You actually don’t have to do anything at all. Isn’t that liberating? I know that society might tell you otherwise, but I promise you do get to choose what you do.
That goes for every area of your life. You get to choose your job, choose how you spend your spare time, choose what you eat and choose how to stay healthy. All of these things and more aren’t dictated to you by someone else. They’re up to you.
It’s very easy in the modern world to feel we’re being controlled or dictated to by others. Or that we have to do things. That we have to follow a diet, we have to hit the gym 5 times a week, we have to take up yoga, we have to cut out carbs if we’re going to lose weight…
But the truth is, we don’t. We just need to listen to ourselves and choose what we think is right for us.
I talked last week about how my husband and I don’t see eye-to-eye on everything when it comes to what we eat. While I love a healthy and balanced approach, my other half doesn’t enjoy the same things and doesn’t have the same priorities.
I could have taken that as a reason to give up with healthy eating. But I had a choice. Every time we eat together, I get a choice as to what we eat and whether I say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I get to choose whether to have a dessert after dinner. I get to choose the snacks I’m going to pack myself for the day. And I get to choose how I feel about the food I eat i.e. relaxed and enjoying it, vs. panicked and feeling guilty.
A really important part of embracing choice for me as a coach is that it empowers people who can often feel quite helpless and out of control by the situations they find themselves in. If you’re in a full-on and stressful full-time job for example, you can feel very much at the mercy of your colleagues, your boss or your clients. Or when it comes to health you might think you need to copy someone else’s plan or path to success to achieve the results you want.
But guess what? You aren’t at someone else’s mercy. You are in control!
You might be shaking your head and disagreeing and thinking “I don’t have a choice.”
And maybe this is a little harsh, but I think perhaps sometimes, secretly or not so secretly, we like to blame others. We like to do the ‘woe is me’ act and say that the world is against us, and if only we had a better boss / husband / business partner / gym instructor, we would be waaaaay better than we are right now.
But blaming others takes away our own responsibility. It also means we don’t have to do any tough work, turning the mirror around and realising that perhaps we ourselves are the only reason we’re not making progress or that we’re not happy with the situation we find ourselves in.
Putting the power back into your hands by embracing choice reminds you that life is your own making. Life isn’t happening to you. It’s happening around you and you get to choose to be fully present and engaged with it, or to reject and fight against it.
Please note that I didn’t say “making the right choices” in the title to this blog post. Because ultimately making choices isn’t about good or bad, right or wrong. It’s just making a choice and following through on the actions and results that come with it. Rather than wasting precious space in your brain blaming others, wallowing in self-pity or dithering about which choice to make.
When it comes to your health, what choices are you making? Have you decided which exercises you’re going to pursue? What meals you’ll have tomorrow? What influencers you want to listen to? What responses you need to have ready when you face a situation that will throw you off course?
If you’re not used to this concept of you being in control (welcome and enjoy it if you’re new to it!) here are a few pointers to help catch and retrain your brain to say yes to choice and no to being ruled by the man:
Try getting 5-10 minutes meditation into your day, start with an app like Headspace if you’ve never done it before. It will help you really start to observe your own thoughts and realise you can choose to change them, rather than being controlled by them.
Start to stand up for yourself. Say what you want and stick to it. Set boundaries and honour them, so that others do the same. Remember in each moment “I have a choice here.”
Try some affirmations or positive statements around being in control and having choice. Maybe things like: I get to choose healthy eating. I am in control of what I eat. I feel confident. Reinforcing the idea of choice into your brain will help it go back to those statements in moments of crisis when choice doesn’t seem to be available. Because trust me, it always is.
Let me know what you think. I fear this is one of my more rambling and incoherent posts, but it all seems to make sense to me. Does it make sense to you as well?!