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Have to? Should? Could? Will?

When we allow ourselves to see all possibilities, choice becomes a freedom.

Source: Dorothy Firman

Not many of us, in this fast-paced world, have long stretches of time to experience not knowing what to do next. In fact, it is usually the opposite. There is never a moment that is not booked, in the calendar, on the clock, in our inner worlds… and often double booked, overbooked, booked beyond capacity. Let’s see: “I’ll make dinner, while calling my sister, making the kids do their homework…. And, oh yes, having a glass of wine!” Check 4 things off the list. Most of us can relate to this, and it often leads to a sense of being dragged around by our to-do list, the shoulds of our lives, and the many external demands. And these are real. Most of us aren’t making up a whole bunch of “have tos.” We really have to… do so many things.

But by the time we feel like a victim of our circumstances, a slave to our shoulds, or a boat without anchor, tossed by every wave, then it is time to regain our Selves. The day may stay as busy, the list may stay as long, but instead of being possessed by the list and owned by the “have tos” we can become the one who chooses.

Do you get up in the morning and choose to go to work? Well, yes, but often without awareness. “Gotta go, late for work.” Nope, you don’t have to go. Yep you probably should. But, just to feel the moment of freedom, realize that you could take the day off, call in sick, quit the job, hitchhike across the country, paint a picture, take a nap. There would be consequences, but you could. So imagine standing at the threshold of your door, noting all the many coulds and then choosing. I choose to go to work today (or maybe you won’t!). When we choose we are our own authors, directors and bosses. And we might just feel more deeply connected to WHY we are choosing this thing. I’m going to work by choice and I am doing so because I value the work, the paycheck, the commitment, etc.

The experience of choice is liberating. It allows the influx of new energies, ways of being, qualities of our very Selves that show up when we act in service of our values, even when the tasks we are doing might be difficult, unpleasant or downright yucky! Who goes to the dentist for the fun of it? Or the bank? Who deals with taxes? Or pays a parking ticket? We don’t look forward to these things, we wish we didn’t have to… and oh, wait, we don’t have to. But we do so many things, nonetheless, because we value something; our health or our safety or our obligations. So many things that we value! What’s your value list? What has meaning to you? And can you hold these values and this sense of meaning in life and still take the time to choose?

This is a life practice. It will serve us well. Whether we are choosing the thing that will keep a roof over our heads or taking the time to choose a moment of pleasure, intimacy, generosity, quiet or peace, when we breathe into our awareness of the many possibilities, and we breathe out into our choice, we will be the Captain of our ship.

So here’s a small psychosynthesis practice. It takes between 10 seconds and 2 minutes. It can become an ongoing ally. “Right now, I could….” Fill in the blank and color outside the box! “And knowing how many things I could do, right now I choose… and I choose this because it has value. This is the value that I am choosing (and name the value).”

To choose based on value, inner resonance, the very Call of our Self, rather than on limiting messages, loss of awareness, have tos and shoulds, is to live in freedom. And in that freedom we will still go to work, visit the dentist, and pay our taxes. And sometimes, hopefully more rather than less, we will also choose towards self-care, play, creativity and enlivening activity.

More from Dorothy Firman Ed.D. LMHC, BCC
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More from Dorothy Firman Ed.D. LMHC, BCC
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