Over the years for some things, I had to do, I used to say, “This is my only choice.” I, like many, believed that sometimes one is forced to do a certain thing as they feel that is the only choice they have. I was of the view that some things are imposed upon you, and that is the only choice you have. Consciously or subconsciously your mind gets conditioned to operate in that mode for some of those things. This focus is external to you – i.e., this is your only choice to do a certain thing because of a person or circumstance. For many, including me, the thinking was that for some things you have choices, for some other things you perceive that you have only one choice. “This is my only choice” was in my vocabulary to justify some things I had to do which were not to my liking. “What to do” – “This is my only choice” became a clutch – it was more to not take responsibility for certain of my actions or behaviors. It took me several life changing adversities to slowly realize that for “Everything” you have a choice. It dawned on me that one has a multitude of choices for anything one faces each and every time. Whatever one decides to do it is a “choice” one is making. Nothing is forced upon one by an external event or person. How one behaves or responds to a certain event or circumstance is their choice. One has choices to do things in a few ways, one also has a choice to do nothing – so whatever one decides to do it is their choice period. There is nothing called “only choice.” There are always many different choices one has. Some are made consciously, some subconsciously – but they are still their choices. As Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted when she was fourteen for nine months from her home in Utah, says, “Ultimately, it’s our choices that make us who we are.”
So, my vocabulary changed from “only choice” to “best choice.” I started to think that way consciously for any choice I made. “I began taking ownership of my actions, behaviors and decisions. I started to see that no person, event or circumstance is responsible for the choices I make. Those choices were mine and mine alone. I stopped assigning blame to others or events and changed my thinking from “This is my only choice” to “This is the best choice” even though I did not want to or liked that choice. I was looking at it differently - At any given moment whatever I decided to do it was the “best choice” in front of me. I certainly was receptive to ideas and suggestions from various people who only meant well, but at the end of the day, I realized that I had to evaluate those and then decide what route I wanted to pursue and then make that choice. I went from a victim mentality – i.e. I am forced by a person or circumstance in making a certain choice and that was the only choice I had to take responsibility for my choices. I started to own the choices I made and stopped assigning blame to external factors. I had read before what the American author and poet Mildred Barthel said, “Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.” I didn’t understand it then but now I do.