Take note when you are in choice. When are you doing something to please others or out of obligation, and when are you consciously choosing something?
Start with a simple awareness around something small. Pay attention when you step in to do something with family or friends, like when someone asks you to go for a walk, dinner or just a phone call. Are you going or doing it because you want to and you are looking forward to it, or are you going to check the box?
How about when someone asks a favor? For example: Could you grab…? Would you drive…? Check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I doing this as a trained, raised caregiver or a great multitasker? Am I being a martyr? Enabler or overfunctioner (topic for another day)?” You may say yes, even though your body says no. Pay attention.
I have found it has taken me a long time to differentiate between choice (without feeling selfish) and responsibility, because the voice in my head would say, “Well, there are just some things you HAVE to do. You don’t have a choice whether or not to drive your child to school.” That’s true; BUT if you pay attention, there are a lot of things throughout our day that create anxiety and stress that we choose and don’t need to — phone calls, errands, appointments, time spent with others — and that don’t serve us well.
Quarantine has really shined a light on when people are using choice to avoid situations. Many people typically use obligations or busyness to avoid being alone. During quarantine, though, there have been fewer opportunities to DO and many more circumstances in which we must simply BE — not always comfortable. It has created a lot of anxiety, stress and desire to run away when we can’t.
Many people describe feeling stuck. Use this ‘stuckness’ as a time to reflect and build awareness. Use it to build a new muscle, so that when the curtains are drawn, and we enter a new normal, you are in choice in a healthy way. You are ready to be the best version of you.
If you really pay attention to simple, everyday activities, you will start to realize how often you are in choice and how often you aren’t.
What is your relationship with choice?