You might know that feeling: You're unhappy about a situation and you feel like you had no other choice. Maybe you feel stuck in your job, or like you can't leave a relationship even though it's toxic. Maybe you want to make healthier lifestyle choices, but you feel like you can't because of your circumstances.
This feeling is an illusion.
It's based on the misconception that we are powerless victims of our circumstances when in reality, we always have a choice.
Yes, life can be tough, and sometimes our choices are limited. But if we understand the role that perception and beliefs play in this illusion, we can start to make conscious choices that empower us to take control of our lives.
So let's explore the illusion of not having a choice and how you can start making empowered decisions that lead to a life you love.
Why You Think You Don't Have A Choice
There are two main reasons why we believe we don't have a choice:
1. You're not aware of all of our options
2. You have limiting beliefs that tell you you can't do something
Let's look at each of these in more detail.
1. You're Not Aware Of All Of Your Options
Many times, we're not aware of all of the options available to us. We get caught up in our everyday lives and we don't take the time to explore other possibilities.
You might think that you're stuck in a job you hate because it's the only way to make money. But what if there were other options? What if you could make money doing something you love?
You might think you can't eat healthier or move your bodies because you don't have time to cook or you can't afford a gym membership. But what if there were other options? What if we could find simple, healthy recipes that only took a few minutes to make or we could go for a walk outside instead of going to the gym?
You might believe that we can't leave a toxic relationship because we don't want to be alone. But what if there were other people in the world who would love and accept you for who you are?
When we're not aware of all of our options, it's easy to feel like we're stuck. But when we start exploring, we often find that there are more possibilities than we ever could have imagined.
2. You Have Limiting Beliefs That Tell You Can't Do Something
The second reason we believe we don't have a choice is because of our limiting beliefs. These are the negative thoughts that tell us we're not good enough, or that we can't do something.
For example, you might have a belief that you're not smart enough to start your own business. Or you might believe that you can't be happy without a partner.
These beliefs limit what we think is possible for us, and they keep us stuck in situations that we don't want to be in.
The good news is that our beliefs are just thoughts, and we have the power to change them. When we start questioning our limiting beliefs, we open up the possibility of doing things we never thought were possible.
The Role Of Perception When It Comes To Choices
In addition to our beliefs, our perception plays a role in the choices we make. Perception is how we see the world around us, and it's shaped by our past experiences, culture, and values.
For example, if you grew up in a family where you were always told that you couldn't do something, you might have a perception that you're not capable. Or if you've experienced failure in the past, you might have a perception that you're not good enough.
These perceptions shape our choices because they influence the decisions we make about what's possible for us.
If we believe that we're not capable, we're not willing to try to do something new. If we believe that we're not good enough, we might not even bother trying.
But when we start to question our perceptions, we open up the possibility of changing our beliefs and making different choices.
The Neuroscience Of Choice
There's actually a lot of neuroscience research that shows that we have more control over our choices than we think.
For example, a study by researcher Dr. Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard, found that when people feel like they have no choice, they're more likely to give up and quit.
But when people feel like they have a choice, even if it's just the illusion of choice, they're more likely to persist and persevere.
This research shows that it's not actually our circumstances that determine our choices, but our perception of them. When we believe we have a choice, we're more likely to find a way to make it happen.
Another interesting fact is that humans tend to make different choices depending on how a problem is described or framed (Lakshminarayanan & Santos 2012).
For example, if you're given the choice between two jobs and one is described as an opportunity to "gain experience" while the other is described as an opportunity to "earn money," you're more likely to choose the latter.
The way a problem is framed can actually influence our choices, and this means that we have more control over our decisions than we might think.
The fun part about this is that you are in control of how you frame your choices. You can choose to see a situation as an opportunity or a challenge, and this will influence the decisions you make.
The Power Of Making Conscious Choices
So far we've talked about the illusion of not having a choice, and how our beliefs and perceptions can limit our choices. But there's another important factor that determines the choices we make: whether or not we're conscious of them.
Most of the time, we're on autopilot and we're not even aware of the choices we're making. We just go through the motions and do what we've always done.
But when we become conscious of our choices, we have the power to change them.
For example, let's say you've been eating a certain way for years and you're not happy with your health or your weight. You might not even be aware of the choices you're making that are contributing to this.
But when you become conscious of the fact that you're choosing to eat unhealthy food, or that you're not choosing to exercise, you have the power to change those choices.
Making conscious choices is empowering because it means that we're in control of our own lives. We're not just on autopilot, reacting to the world around us.
Instead, we're making choices that are aligned with our values and our goals. We're choosing what's best for us, and we're taking ownership of our lives.
How To Start Making Conscious and Empowered Choices
If you're ready to start making more conscious and empowered choices, here are a few tips:
Pay attention to your autopilot behavior. What are the things that you do on a daily basis without even thinking about it? Are there any areas of your life where you feel like you're on autopilot?
Become aware of your beliefs and perceptions. What are the things that you believe about yourself or the world that might be limiting your choices?
Question your assumptions. Why do you believe what you believe? Is there any evidence to support your beliefs, or are they just based on your opinion?
Be mindful of your choices. Pay attention to the choices you're making on a daily basis. Are they aligned with your values and goals?
Make conscious and empowered choices. When you become aware of a choice that you need to make, take some time to consider what you want and what's best for you. Then make a decision based on that.
Making conscious and empowered choices is a process, and it takes time and practice. But it's worth it because when you're in control of your own choices, you're in control of your life. And that's an incredibly empowering feeling.