The (Un)Chosen Life: Did you choose your life? Or did it choose you?

Man standing at rainbow and waterfall

The (Un)Chosen Life: Did you choose your life? Or did it choose you?

How much of your life did you actually choose? Likewise, how satisfied do you feel with your life? Based on my many observations as a psychologist, my educated guess is that you are likely happier with the aspects of your life that you actively, consciously considered and chose. Also, I imagine that the areas of your life you “fell into” are less likely to be sources of joy.

Let’s take this exploration a step further. Is there anything that currently is a source of stress in your life or something that generates anxiety or sadness? Take a moment to really identify something specific. Now, I’ll provide you with a hypothetical example so that you can go through the exercise with your own specific stressor. Let’s just say your job is your primary stressor – a common one in our society. Have you ever wondered how you got to where you are with this job? Did you actively evaluate the kind of job you wanted and subsequently choose it? Or, did you take this job because you felt someone expected you to or you felt obligated in some way (e.g., just for the money). Maybe you became an attorney to please your mother or father, who is also an attorney. Perhaps you decided to be a criminal defense attorney because your favorite mentor was one – even though you hate the hours and writing motions makes you wish for a burst appendix and hospital stay so that you’ll have a true, legitimate excuse to escape. If so, take a moment to evaluate why you are behaving in this way that brings you pain or dissatisfaction.

I’m sure many people will say they do things for the money. We all need, and likely enjoy, having money, but at what cost? Are you giving your life away to please someone else or meet some obligation? Is it because you care so much about what other people think of you (e.g., your boss, partner, parent, etc.)? If so, the continued choice not to change might be taking you down a path of anxiety, depression, and poor overall health. Until you begin to choose your own life – each and every day – and own your decisions without blaming others, you are likely on the fast-track to resentment, anger, and other painful emotions.

So what can you do? Start by taking that source of dissatisfaction you identified earlier and begin to explore how this started and why it continues. What can you do to choose differently and shake up your distressing pattern? Maybe you don’t need a new job; perhaps you want to choose for yourself a couple of things you can do to alter your own experience of the situation and yourself (e.g., shifting your hours to get home earlier, etc.). The more you can choose your life daily, whether it be a job, a relationship, or an activity, or how you react/interact/respond to it, the more joy and peace you are likely to discover. Here’s to your purposeful, chosen life!

© Copyright 2016 Ashley Curiel, PsyD, therapist in Beverly Hills, California. All rights reserved.