Power to Choose

How many times have you heard yourself saying things like “I have to do this” or “I have no choice”? If you’re like most people, those are phrases you probably use fairly regularly.

The truth, though, is that we almost always have a choice. We were created as beings with free will and the power to choose. We might not always *like* the options that are in front of us, but most of the time, if not every time, there are options.

For those of us who have lived in abusive or traumatic situations, that belief in the absence of choice may be particularly entrenched. After all, abuse, by its very nature, is the taking away of power. We don’t have a choice about how we’re treated by our abusers, and we certainly aren’t choosing to be abused. Those things are genuinely beyond our control. But having that power taken away can lead us to believe that we have no power in any aspect of our lives.

One of the most important steps in our healing journeys is to recognize the power we have to make our own choices. That doesn’t mean that we’ll always have options we want to choose! Sometimes when we say we have no choice, what we really mean is “That choice isn’t viable for me because of this reason,” or “Only one of those options comes without consequences.” But that doesn’t mean the other options don’t exist, only that they aren’t something that would work for us.

Freedom to choose doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, which is something people sometimes forget. You might, for example, choose to drive 100 miles per hour on Main Street; you’re free to make that choice. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get pulled over and ticketed or arrested!

Sometimes we confuse the existence of consequences with the absence of choice. As we learn to recognize and embrace our personal power, we need to learn that choice does exist, and to consciously make choices rather than falling back to a default because “there is no choice.”

This is something it’s taken me time to learn, and sometimes I still catch myself saying I don’t have a choice. But at those times, I stop myself and say, “Okay, wait a minute. What are my choices here? Why are choices A and B not valid for me right now?” Going through that process enables me to *consciously* choose option C, rather than just going with it because I’ve forgotten that I have the power to make a choice. I have free will, and I can use it.

The next time you’re faced with a situation in which you believe you don’t have a choice, I invite you to go through the process I just described. Ask yourself what choices exist in the situation. Not what choices you like, or which ones have no or fewest consequences, but just which ones *exist*. Once you’ve done that, look at the possible outcomes of each option, and consciously decide on the option that has the outcome you want.

Embrace and exercise your power of free will, and see how it can help you create the life you want to live.

Free Will =/= Freedom from Consequences

Free will is vital. All of us, as sentient beings, have the freedom to make our own choices and decisions. Mind control isn’t a thing, whether it’s by other people or by higher powers; we were all created to be able to choose our actions for ourselves.

What people forget when the subject of free will or freedom to choose comes up is that freedom to choose does not equal freedom from the consequences of that choice. If you choose to go skating on thin ice, you have the freedom to do so, but that doesn’t mean you won’t fall through the ice. If you choose to drive fifty miles an hour in a thirty mile an hour zone, you have the freedom to do that too, but it doesn’t mean you won’t get a speeding ticket.

Too many people, when confronted with the consequences of their actions, try to argue that “I have free will! I have freedom to do this!” Yep, you do… and you’ve done it, and there are consequences. You do not avoid the results, whether positive or negative, of your actions just because you have the freedom to act in the first place.

One of the biggest consequences of ignoring and fighting against restrictions during our current health crisis isn’t that you’re breaking the rules. It isn’t even that you might get sick, since you have the freedom to choose whether or not you get sick–and whether or not you die. The biggest consequence is that you might cause *someone else* to get sick and die. And doing so is a violation of *their* free will. 

Free will allows for you to commit actions that might harm yourself or others. It allows you to act in a way that violates someone else’s free will. You have the freedom to choose to do those things. However… why would you choose to harm anyone? Why would you choose to take away their freedom of choice when you rail against someone doing the same to you?

Free will does not equal freedom from consequences. If you harm others, there will be consequences for your actions. If you take away someone else’s free will, you may face consequences. And the fact that you have free will doesn’t change that. You are absolutely free to make whatever choices you make–but you are not free from whatever effects those choices bring you.