I Have No Choice And Gaining Agency
I have no choice and gaining agency
Does your life feel out of control? Do you find yourself saying in your best harassed voice I have no choice? So often we end up rushing around, feeling like we’re on a hamster wheel, muttering I have no choice. I’ve been caught up in this, just like you – and we react this way because it seems like there’s no time to do anything else.
I used to be that way. We are so giving aren’t we – and it’s in our nature to say ‘yes’ so we do. We then tie ourselves in knots fulfilling all these commitments.
This had to stop – I was run ragged and resentful. I knew something had to change. Lets examine I have no choice and gaining agency.
Where is your agency?
I Have No Choice
I’m radically against the phrase I don’t have a choice. Your choices might be limited and seem unattractive – but there are still choices to be considered. Are you just floating along bemoaning the situation and going in the direction of whoever is pulling hardest through things like guilt and manipulation?
Are you just floating in the direction of whoever is pulling hardest – using guilt and manipulation to wear you down?
Comfort with Agency
How often do we go into situations with our arms crossed, determinedly knowing it’s going to be hideous?
This often happens with something related to work or family because of obligations. Lets talk about a family member we don’t like but feel we have to visit. This really happened to me – I’m guessing you’re familiar too! We roll our eyes and sigh and try to put it off.
Joe is mean to you and his family. He says things that are snide and belittling using guilt and manipulation to get his way. In short, Joe is nasty and demanding. Unfortunately, he also complains bitterly if you don’t visit. After months of this sniping, you sigh and say – I don’t have a choice, I’ll just have to hold my nose for a few hours and visit Joe. Lets get it over with. When, in the end, we arrive at the front door you are sure it’s going to be awful. Your arms are crossed. You think I don’t want to be here – but I have no choice.
We’ve all been there – this is not an unusual situation.
So how do we re-frame it and why do we go anyway?
In fact, you do have a choice – you can just not visit. You can let Joe be as nasty as he likes. You can be cheerful about it and ignore it as interference, not worrying about any flack coming your way – it’s more about Joe than it is about you.
So lets dig deeper to see why you still choose to visit Joe. Obviously, you don’t want him to complain and moan about you. But is there more?
You know Joe will go on a rant to his family about you, because that’s what he’s like. He’s the type to go on multiple tears. If you don’t visit, Joe will sound off to his family about how selfish you are and how that’s not how family behaves etc.
Joe’s family will have to bear the brunt of your decision not to visit. You might not have to deal with his meanness, but the unpleasantness will be passed onto them.
His family will pay the price if you don’t visit.
In fact, you realize your visit helps the rest of the family!
This is why you do it – so you can give them some relief!
You’ve made an altruistic choice. It’s something to feel good about. You’ll also find that when you understand why you’re doing something, it dissipates resentment. Surely you don’t want to be a martyr?
This realization that you’re helping out members of the family will help you to sail through visiting Joe with grace. Rather than feeling like I don’t have a choice you understand why you are making this visit and you feel good about it.
Agency – owning our decisions
What’s hard about taking back our agency is seeing clearly. This digging deep into why you’re making these decision is difficult. There is so much noise – in our lives and in our head. It makes it hard to tune into your choices and understand why you are making these decisions.
It’s all the noise – the cacophony of daily life that gets us pulled hither and yon, so you’re reacting rather than acting.
When you make a commitment to yourself to tune into understanding why you do things you will step forward with clarity of purpose as you say ‘yes’ or even ‘I won’t be able to help with this – but I wish you well’.
Your resentment will decrease and you’ll be freed up! That can only be good for you and those around you.
I’ve some luscious free journaling prompts to help you on your way.
This is deeps stuff – so find a quiet few minutes to dig into understanding when and why you say I have no choice and transform reacting to acting with clarity. You owe it to yourself and others – you’ll step forward with equanimity and less resentment.
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