The feeling of being backed into a corner and having little say in our own lives has been coming up in coaching conversations so I’m focusing on the topic of choice in this episode. Do you feel like you have a choice?
In this episode we look at:
Pressing Pause Podcast episode 55 Do you have a choice?
Welcome to Pressing Pause, the podcast for overthinkers, brought to you by The Calm Mind Club where overthinkers can find calm, confidence and community.
I’m Gabrielle Treanor and I share ideas, inspiration and actions to empower you to worry less and enjoy life more.
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Now, welcome to episode 55. For this episode I’ve gone off plan, I’m not answering a listener question and this may be shorter than usual. A particular topic has come up over and over again for myself and in my coaching conversations and while my good girl tendencies were telling me that I could be letting you down if I don’t stick to the plan of answering a listener question for ten minutes in an episode every fortnight, I reminded myself that I have a choice. My intention behind this podcast has always been to provide valuable content to help you with your overthinking. That doesn’t mean it has to stick rigidly to a set format if I want to do something different. I have a choice, and it’s this idea of choice that I want to talk about today.
We can go through life feeling like we have very little choice over what we do and how we live. We can feel like most of what happens is out of our control and we don’t have a say in our own lives. And to an extent it’s true, there is a lot that’s out of our control. For a start the circumstances and privilege we’re born into is outside of our control. How other people behave, the way they speak to and treat us, is not within our control. Things happen in life, every day in fact, that we don’t expect, that perhaps we don’t want to happen and we can’t prevent them. We have responsibilities, there are people counting on us and we can’t just make everything about us and ditch our responsibilities.
So, that makes it sound like we really do have very little choice in our lives. And this is how some of the people I talk with as a coach feel. They see all the things in their life that they have to do, all the people they have to please or take care of, all the expectations they have to live up to, the schedule they have to stick to, the to do list they have to tick off, the goals they have to reach and they feel powerless and overwhelmed.
At first they feel like they’re backed into a corner and they have virtually no say in their own life. And then we start to talk about looking for what they do have control over in their day. At first they may be able to spot where they have some say in their life but quickly bring up areas where they’ve got to or they have to or they’re expected to. Sometimes they’re so used to doing something a certain way that they forget that at some point in the past they made the choice to do it that way, and that they can make the choice to do it differently if they want to. Or they take a suggestion or a request from another person as a demand, which they feel they have to meet.
Things happen in life that we don’t like and we don’t want, there is no way in a million years that we would ever choose it and yet it’s happening because we may have zero power over it. But, we still have choices. We aren’t completely and utterly devoid of power. It doesn’t feel like that, it can feel like life is happening to us and we have to go along with it but we do still, in fact, have a choice.
I’m not saying that you choose to deny it’s happening, turn your back and walk away, although that would be your choice to make. I’m not suggesting that you tell yourself you’re choosing to be okay with something truly horrible and that makes everything rosy. It’s not about flicking a switch. It’s about looking at the reality, seeing what choices you have and deciding what choice you can make to help yourself in that moment. Choices don’t have to be great big decisions like leaving your partner, quitting your job or moving to another country. I’m talking about the micro choices you have each hour of every day as you go about your ordinary, unique, challenging life.
The choice could be to buy fairy cakes for the school fair instead of making them.
The choice could be to lock yourself in a toilet cubicle at work and repeat a mantra to yourself for five minutes.
The choice could be to delete Facebook from your phone for the evening.
The choice could be to not have another glass of wine.
The choice could be to have a slice of chocolate cake.
The choice could be to strike up a conversation.
The choice could be to say yes, or to say no.
The choice could be to give up.
The choice could be to try again.
The choice could be to ask for help.
There is no perfect choice, there’s no right or wrong choice if it’s the one that you feel is the one you want to make in that moment. Your choice may not be my choice and that’s fine, because it’s your choice to make.
Each one of us can make micro choices each day to help ourselves. They may not have the power to change the facts of our circumstances but they do have the power to change how we feel about what we’re dealing with. You may not be able to control what happens to you but you do have a say in how you respond to and deal with it.
Like I said before that doesn’t mean that you tell yourself that you’ve decided you’re fine with this awful thing that’s happened and so magically you are fine. It means that you can choose how you respond, and that can change minute by minute if you choose to. Some choices you may need to keep making, over and over, if it feels tough but that’s the choice you ultimately want to make. So you may need to keep choosing to be hopeful. Or you may restate to yourself several times a day ‘I choose to have another go’ or ‘I’m choosing to not let her get to me’.
And these micro choices aren’t all or nothing. Most of the choices that we make in day to day life aren’t instantly set it stone, they can be changed if it turns out that you want to make a different choice in the future. Even the big choices can turn out differently and change along the way. When I chose to study English and Publishing at university I didn’t think that 25 years later I would have had a career in magazine publishing, run my own stationery business for seven years and now be a life coach supporting overthinkers stuck in stress and overwhelm. And now, as a one-woman business, when I’m struggling (which I do because everyone does) I can make the choice to ask for help, to try a different approach, to quit even. I’m not going to, by the way, but it’s still a choice.
I often talk with my clients about seeing the actions we take as an experiment. Try doing that thing, try exploring that idea, try making that choice and see how you get on. Give it a go, see what happens and how it feels. Because you’ve made this choice you have the power to make a different one if you choose.
So where in your life do you have choices where you may have previously felt powerless? Where can you make a micro choice? How can you choose to respond? How can you choose to move forward? What choice are you making right now? It’s something to think about.
If this topic of choice interests you, perhaps you’re struggling with feeling overwhelmed and you’d like some help finding a way forward, send me a message and let’s talk about how you can get back some of the power over your life so you feel like you’ve got some control over what’s going on. You can email me at email@example.com, I’ll put the link in the show notes, and let’s have a chat.
If you have a friend who you think would find this episode useful please do share it with them, directly or on social media. On Instagram I’m @gabrielletreanor if you want to tag me.
And if you have a question you’d like me to answer in a podcast episode do send it to me!
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
You can also talk to the people at Mind on 0300 123 3393 or SANE on 0300 304 7000 or Samaritans on 116 123.
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