“Beliefs are choices. First you choose your beliefs. Then your beliefs affect your choices.” ~Roy T. Bennett
The other day I had a dentist appointment. I know most people dread the dentist, and I admit it’s not my favorite place in the world to be, but I have such a lovely dental hygienist that it makes the visits bearable.
This visit was no exception. As she poked and prodded, we managed to make conversation about what was new in our lives, books we were reading and our summer plans.
At some point, she said, “Life is a choice.”
That might have been it. The four words might have slipped on by, drifting off into the atmosphere without much thought, as so many of our words do.
But then she shared how her kids have joked that someday those words may land on her tombstone because she repeats them so frequently.
That’s when I really thought about it. Yes, life is a choice.
Life is constant choice. Life is choice after choice after choice after choice.
But so often we feel like we have no choice. There are moments when we feel like we’re in a riptide and we just have to ride it out to see where we land.
It made me think of a time years ago when I was going through a rut. As ruts often do, it made me feel helpless. I felt stuck.
One day, I casually said those words to my mother. I told her that I didn’t know what I was doing, that I felt stuck.
She stopped me from blabbering on to correct me.
“You are never stuck. You can always change direction.”
Instantly, thoughts flooded my mind for all the reasons why I felt stuck. Couldn’t she see how hard this was? But I could tell she wasn’t having it.
“You are never stuck. Don’t ever let yourself think you are.”
Her firm and certain words sunk in more a second time. Logically, I understood. But when something is happening that is not what you chose, that is out of your control, it makes you feel like you have no control.
And when you feel like you have no control you begin to feel like a helpless bystander in your own life, instead of the leading lady (or man) in charge behind the wheel.
That’s never a good thing.
Having ridden through countless riptides, I can confirm, that yes, it’s easier to make choices when things are going well. When things are in flow there’s no room for doubt or questioning. Each choice aligns with the next in a natural, simple, effortless way.
It becomes a lot harder to have that confidence though when your ship is capsizing and all you want to do is scream “mayday” or fire flares into the sky.
You don’t want to make the choice.
You don’t want the responsibility of choosing anymore. You want someone to swoop in and rescue you and tell you what to do.
This was actually a fantasy of mine during this rough patch. I often visualized my best guy friend showing up at my doorstep, and telling me, “Come on. Let’s go. You don’t have to do this anymore.” And just like that I wasn’t stuck anymore.
Spoiler alert: That never happened.
You don’t want to make the choice.
You don’t want to decide because you’re terrified you’ll make the wrong choice. You doubt yourself, your ability and your judgment.
But the thing is most times, some choice is better than no choice.
Most times taking a step in any direction is better than freezing in place or worse—drowning altogether.
Because once you decide to jump overboard, to swim to shore, a funny thing happens.
Life preservers are thrown your way. An opportunity rises out of nowhere. Something unexpected arrives, giving you a renewed sense of hope.
Once you help yourself, the help you are craving comes in bundles. (Tweet that!)
But first you have to make a choice, any choice. Do you want to sink or swim? Stay or go? Fall or fly?
You can choose to change direction. You can choose a new attitude. You can choose to step into your own personal power and try a new thought pattern, or daily routine. You can choose to believe in yourself. You can choose a million little things or one, big one.
Yes, some choices will be terrifying, but remember some will be fabulous, life-affirming and soul-changing.
Life is a choice.
It’s your choice. And don’t ever let anyone or anything make you think otherwise.