Every day, we make an infinite number of choices, whether we are aware of them or not. We choose to get out of bed, when to eat, who to speak with, and how we move our bodies. These are all choices that we consciously make.
Our choices are not determined by our background or conditioning; they are determined by our wants and desires. We are often taught what is important, which ultimately remains with us throughout our lives. As such, we are forever shaped and are made to believe and behave in a way that is consistent with what is important.
A recent conversation with a family member forced me to ponder how we make choices. This individual was adamant about how she must get on the treadmill at 8:30 am, forcing herself to spring out of bed at 8 am. This was voiced as a complaint, as needing to move her body at that hour was a must. What is a must? I see a must as needing to use the restroom, report to work, leave the house for a fire or other emergency, but not this. She proceeded to tell me that this is a force within her heart that she had to follow through on, not a choice.
I struggled to hold my tongue. I explained that this is in fact a choice and that she is making a decision every time she exercises. At 88 years old, I also stressed that this decision is not always in the best interest of her health since when she exercises, she tends to lower her already low blood pressure and occasionally doesn’t feel good. This is not a choice that revolves around good health. Additionally, it does not have to occur at 8 am.
As I continued this heated discussion where I was adamant about getting my point across, I realized this is the conditioning that holds an enormous place within my mother. She believes that she must exercise as a form of weight control. As this is something she has struggled with for decades, I know that this is where it must stem from. She focuses a lot on personal appearance and size. Unfortunately, one cannot actually see a choice in the matter when the individual is wrapped up in an adamant belief system. My words were shed on deft ears.
What is important to me is that I know I have a choice. When I exercise, it is because I have chosen to. I don’t have to, I get to. I actually look at it as an option and a privilege. The option is the choice, the privilege is the fact that I can – I have an able-body and able-mind to do so. I am glad that my mother’s own conditioning has not permeated my own belief system.
Every day we make choices. Some of these choices are ours, and some of them we allow others to make. What choices are you giving up to others? Dr. Bobbie Stevens says: “It is so important to understand that we are all making choices all the time, even when we chose not to choose we have still made a choice. It is our choices that determine our experiences. The choices we are making today will show up in our experiences in the future.” How do you want your choices today to show up in your tomorrow?