Power? Of Choices

Power? Of Choices

Some people call them choices, others call them options. Some have more, others have less. But everyone of us has so many of them everyday, we never think about them. In choice there is freedom, there is safety, there is empowerment. It’s almost as if choice is crucial to our experience of being human.

Thinking about choices has led me down the rabbit hole. I hope you’ll come with me. 

Picture this – 

You’re in front of the best buffet you’ve ever seen in your life. The best version of everything all in one place. With this in front of you, it is impossible you will ever starve. Endless choice. It makes you feel relaxed, at ease … happy, almost giddy. 

What if you live through this cornucopia every single meal for every single day for the rest of your life? Heavenly, right? 

Perhaps not. I’ve been there. I’ve spent a lot of time and even more money trying to put myself in that position. With food. With things. With relationships. 

One day is great, two days are awesome, three even better, on the fourth day – I wonder if eating all this everyday is healthy, on fifth day – I choose to eat healthy and take only bite sizes of the sumptuous, on sixth day – I repeat day five and regret taking even bites of the sumptuous perhaps detesting the hard choice of healthy eating, and finally on seventh day – I am torn between the two. Take a moment and really imagine repeating this every single week of every single year for the rest of your life. 

Notice what is happening. The notion of choices seduces us to believe ‘This is wonderful!’, ‘I will never starve again’, ‘I will never want again, there is so much to choose from!’ This seduction holds true for most things in life – relationships, work, possessions – the more the choices, the better. 

What follows the initial seduction is what I call smartly choosing. Because one is free to choose, one is also empowered to reject. 

Then comes the tugging. One is increasingly torn between acceptance and rejection – both what one chooses and rejects have pros and cons; we get tired of making hard choices, difficult choices, “what is good for me” choices. We seemingly “have it all” and yet not quite. Where is the freedom, empowerment and security that was promised? 

Choices don’t necessarily empower. Sometimes availability of existing options reduces our capacity to imagine and envision what is possible to merely what is probable. Availability of choices does not necessarily mean security. By virtue of definition choices don’t account for and cannot prepare one for the uncertainty of the unknown. Having multiple options to choose from doesn’t necessarily mean one is free. 

What really helps is knowing. Knowing who you are and knowing the difference between what you need and want. Here lies freedom. Aren’t there times when saying no felt really fulfilling, satiating? 

Power is not necessarily always in making the informed choices; it also lies in going after, creating what is right for you. 

In the end the question really is – who is writing the story? Choices in front of you or You?