Just When Did You Stop Having a Choice?

Nothing gets my heart rate up more than hearing someone say that they can’t change something.  It is the way it is and  …here’s the line “I have no choice”. The one thing I firmly believe is that we are making choices all day, every day, whether we see it or not.  Sometimes the choice may simply be what attitude we are going to choose about a situation.  That is a choice.

As a certified coach and NLP Master Practitioner and a former people leader in a large corporation, I have had lots of exposure to working with clients, team members and sometimes family and friends, around just this topic – choices. I get it, sometimes you can get so stuck somewhere, backed into a corner and feel like there is no choice.  This is where having an outside person aka coach, to help you get clear may come in handy.  The reason I suggest an “outside” person vs. a spouse, sister, brother, best friend, father, mother etc. is that a coach has no emotional attachment to what you are trying to change or choose.  They are there to be an unbiased partner.

In the next couple of paragraphs I will walk you through some suggestions for opening options when you feel like you are stuck and have no choice in a situation.

First of all, get clear on what “it” is – the choice that you think you don’t have or the topic/problem/situation you are stuck in.  Whatever “it” is, the formula for moving onward seems like this to me:

  • get really super clear on what the “problem” or “topic” is – dwelling here is not productive however, knowing what you believe to be true about something is good to be clear on
  • once the problem or topic has been clarified, physically get away from it, no joke, get out of your chair and walk around; sit somewhere else or better yet change your entire posture and go for a short walk -you really cannot solve a problem from within a problem, it is not the right head-space to be in
  • start to brainstorm options for the problem – this includes having fun and being creative. including doing the exact opposite of what you think you should do; get creative here, if you have a pet, ask yourself what your pet would do – sounds silly however I encourage you to try this.
  • Ask yourself – if failure wasn’t an option what would I do?
  • Chances are that you have had a problem before and were able to solve it. What resources did you use? By “resources” I mean, was there a person you admired that you emulated? A behaviour you chose? An inner strength you called upon? Sometimes remembering that you have been able to solve a problem in the past helps to give you the confidence to know that you can do it again.  Try and remember a specific time you solved that problem – who were you then, what were you doing – connect with that resourceful version of you!
  • Run through several options for the problem using fun, creativity and previous experience – I recommend getting 4-5 options including the current way you view the situation.
  • Once you have done this – again, walk away from the situation – literally!
  • When you come back – review the 4-5 options you have come up with and select one that resonates for you – it could be the original option you saw. The point of the exercise is to recognize that there are always choices – even if you choose to go back to your original thinking!  At least you have opened the door to other options.

Remember that not making a choice is making a choice!