• Mel P - Mel is a Mental Health Blogger and Owner of the Balanced Mind.

Choose the life you want, don’t settle for it

So today I want to talk about choices and how important they really are. And you may think that’s obvious. But I think all too often we lose sight of them.

For instance, how many times do you find yourself saying, “I have to…….” Or “I need to……” But do you ever find yourself saying, “I choose to…..”?

Every day we make hundreds of choices. From what we are going to wear that day, what we want to eat, what we are going to do and where we are going to go. And often these decisions are made without too much thought. Without considering the alternatives.

I think this is in part due to semantics. By using the word ‘decision’ it takes away any options. The choice is now in the past. The options are now redundant. Whereas when I have chosen something, although the choice is still in the past, the alternatives are still very much present with me and my decision.

And why is choice so important to me?

Well, it is the difference between feeling empowered or feeling like a victim. From taking ownership and accountability or placing blame and losing our control.

And this is so important for good mental health.

Let me take you through a personal example that illustrates this point.

When I was in the dark realms of depression, I went to the doctor in a desperate state, needing her to fix me. After all, she was a medical professional and I was in poor health. Makes sense right?

Well, the reality of the visit was very different. She gave me lots of information about my options from medication to therapy. And then she asked me to make a choice. A choice about what treatment options I wanted to try. A choice over my health.

And at the time, this made me so angry. And probably more desperate if I’m honest. She was the doctor. It was her job to fix me. How should I know what to do? I don’t have a degree in medicine. And I am broken and she needed to fix me. And yet she was shirking her responsibilities.

In fact, at each visit, she did the same. So when I returned on a future visit and said the medication wasn’t helping. She gave me more information and asked if I wanted to carry on with that medication for a bit longer, increase the dose, or change to a different brand to try.

I had to decide. She gave me the knowledge to make an informed choice, but she wouldn’t make that decision for me.

And again, when the medication gave me hallucinations, I was made to choose what my next steps were.

It was so frustrating.

But now I see why she did it. Because it is not her role to take power and control over my life. And if she had, she would have been the one I could blame when it didn’t work. Or she is the one that would be held on a pedestal for being the person responsible for saving me.

The simple act of bringing my choices into my conscious thought. The subtle change of language to, “I choose…..” It gives me back my control. It makes me feel empowered.

But that simply is not the case.

I am in control. Those are my choices. And it is me that needs to take accountability when things don’t work out the way I want them to and to redirect myself through the power of choice onto a path that will. And when things do wor

k out well, I should be able to celebrate my successes. It was me that saved myself, nobody else.

And this was such a valuable lesson. The simple act of bringing my choices into my conscious thought. The subtle change of language to, “I choose…..” It gives me control. It makes me feel empowered. And it helps me to be kind and accepting of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always make good choices in my life. For instance, I may want to lose weight and eat healthy food but I still often choose takeaways instead. It might not be a choice that leads me to my end goal. But by knowing I have a choice, and thereby knowing I could choose another option if I so wish, it allows me to find peace with my decisions.

I no longer have to beat myself up with my inner critic. Chastising myself for not being better. For not being good enough. Because I made my choice with full awareness of my options. And that brings acceptance. And also makes you much more likely to choose the option that brings you closer to achieving your goals; even if that is still one decision away.

So regardless of whether you are making ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choices over your life. Make sure they are a choice. Own them, accept them and be at peace with them.

Because it is important for us all to choose the life we live and not settle for it.

“Sharing a post about mental health does not automatically tell the World that you are struggling. Instead, you are telling the World that you support Mental Health.”

#BreakingTheStigma #LetsStartTheConversation

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