Choosing choices, owning choices.

No one not even a child likes to have the right to choose taken from them. There is a certain privilege, a sense of ownership that comes with following one’s personal choice. This ranges from choices of simple matters like what to eat to complex issues of whom to trust, life will always present us with situations that appraise our sense of judgment in a moment. There are times in life when it seems like we have less of a choice to make, and more of an obligation to fulfill. For example, deciding whom to vote for in the ongoing American presidential contest is one of such obligation rather than choice situations or a choice between homelessness and a job that has nothing to do with your preferences but everything to do with keeping a roof over your head. When none of the options available come close to your personal ideals, life can feel very limiting, even claustrophobic.

Definitions of choice:

  • An act or the possibility of choosing:
  • The range of different things from which you can choose
  • Of high quality

Based on the above definitions individuals could be said to have a choice over a situation when presented with varied options to pick from with no limits or barriers except your personal preference. There are times when the best choice available isn’t necessarily your personal option. In such instances we might find ourselves in a quandary, often becoming defensive when our choices are questioned or appraised. Society, friends, relatives (both well-meaning and otherwise) often feel obligated to foist their personal choices on us. Sometimes it is done subtly with hints and suggestions e.g. an acquaintance; colleague or family member at a wedding might ask ‘when are we getting invites from you?’ or ‘Wow your little one is so grown up she must be itching for a playmate.’ Or ‘you know these bills won’t pay themselves, imagine what a proper career what do for you?’ And sometimes you get the blunt person who blurts out their choice for you ‘I think it’s time you got married and might I suggest you take Harry seriously.’

In all honesty, sometimes we need those ‘foisted suggestions’ to give us a wake-up call, and whilst the manner in which those suggestions/choices are presented is important, the more important issue is how you handle them and what you do with the choices. Do you become adapted to the choice? Or do you take ownership of the choice? Adapting to a choice is easier than taking ownership of a choice. You can positively adapt to a choice which is to do as you’ve been advised or something along those lines. Or you could negatively adapt, this involves ignoring all suggestions and taking a defiant stance. Whichever form of adaptation you choose, you subconsciously leave a leeway to place the blame for any misfortune as a result of that choice on another party other than yourself. ‘If you hadn’t told me’, ‘if they hadn’t been asking,’ lots of If’s and regrets.

Taking ownership however, means sitting back to internalize the choices or suggestions presented to you; to mull them over and decide whether or not to go for it in that moment or in the future or not ever. It also means to adapt the choice(s) available to your own personal taste and personality, without losing the main objective. This is a tough process as it means you refuse to blame anyone for the outcome of those choices except indeed they’re to blame. It often also requires personal changes and perhaps sacrifice, but these are all things we would naturally anticipate if we had thought of those choices by ourselves. Since no man is an island and sometimes we often miss what’s in front of us, we must be willing to accept that sometimes others are indeed just looking out for us. So go on and take ownership of those choices.

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