I often get into trouble with my family, friends and coworkers because I often challenge them to accept the idea that they are responsible for all the choices they make. I believe that ultimately I always have a choice. I may not like the choices before me and I may not be able to see what choices lay before me but I do have choices. It gets me into trouble with my wife when she comes to me upset that she “had to” do something she didn’t want to do. My response is usually the same.
“If you didn’t want to do it then why did you”, I ask.
“Well … I had to. Who else would do it?”, she says.
“I don’t know. Did you ask someone for help?”
“Who would I ask?” she would reply, rhetorically. “I had no choice”.
“You could have just not done it. You could have asked me?”
“You’re busy and I had to get done”.
“Because, someone had to do it!”
And so we go around and around in circles. The more I press, the more each of us gets agitated. I’m learning when to quit pushing. Sometimes, I start suggesting possibilities and sometimes she uses them and other times she doesn’t like any of the my solutions. At some point I may say:
“You’re right. If you don’t like doing nothing or choosing any of the other options, then … you have only the choice you made. But still … that’s a choice”
I sometimes do this to myself. I get stuck and frustrated because I feel like I have no choice but the one before me. It takes a bit of effort to realize that I have many choices, all of which have wanted and unwanted consequences. I may choose the most desirable outcome and least negative consequence and feel like I have no choice. Or I can accept the risk of a negative result, choose, and take the opportunity for a chance of the most desirable outcome I am seeking. Either way, I have made a choice.
NOTE: I’m writing this as part of The Domino Project’s #Trust30 30-day writing challenge from ralphwaldoemerson.me.