lossquestions to ask yourself

you don’t have to, you choose to

No one and nothing can make you do anything. 

My life was turned upside down this year. I lost the man I planned to spend forever with in a tragic accident, I moved out of the home we shared, I put my things in storage, and was subsequently laid off from my job at a company that had finally lost their battle against staying in the black.

I let go of everything I thought I knew to travel and live abroad. I didn’t intend to live abroad permanently, just to be away for an undetermined amount of time. I wanted it to be open so that I could decide when it felt right for me to go somewhere and when it felt right for me to return.

I created my current situation. I chose to make it this way.

No one forced me to leave. The world didn’t force me to leave with the drastic turn of events that arose in my life. I chose to go.

Thai coffee with friends in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

Sometimes when I tell people that I’m traveling they get this look on their face like “Wow! That sounds great!” Then they ask what made me decide to travel and I tell them about what led up to this. They don’t sound jealous anymore. Their face drops. I see some pity and some shock. They can’t believe the words that are coming out of my still-functioning mouth. Then the inevitable comes next. It’s usually along the lines of, “well you had to after all that!”

Short of situations where our life is being threatened, an adult can’t be made to something. This isn’t what we want to believe. We think it’s easier to say that we’re doing something because we have to do it.

That’s not real, it’s an illusion. It’s a way of not taking responsibility for ourselves.

I go to work everyday because I have to. I eat breakfast because I have to. I mow the lawn because I have to. I pay my bills because I have to. I’m having a birthday dinner because it’s just what you do. We just have to do these things.

Guess what? You don’t have to do any of that! Seriously, you don’t.

You get to. You choose to.

This might seem like a small difference, saying you have to or saying you get to and you choose to. It isn’t. It’s not semantics either because these words mean different things. It’s a BIG difference.

The words you use matter.

Your voice impacts everything around you, most importantly, YOU. When you tell yourself you have to do something it changes everything from the way you approach it, to how you feel while you do it, to your ability to focus on the action you’re taking.

What’s more, you send yourself the message that you are not in control. That’s stressful! Plus it makes you less satisfied with yourself, your job, your relationships, and your engagements.

Of course we all live different lives that offer different choices that could yield different results. To be clear, I’m not saying that anyone can do anything at anytime. That’s not the way the world is setup. That doesn’t acknowledge that each of us were born into a wide range of situations that weren’t our choice. We were dealt different hands at birth that greatly influenced us.

Now you’re an adult though, so blaming the environment you were born into for the life you have now only holds you back. No matter where you were born, no matter who your parents are, no matter what happens to you, only you decide what you do.

This isn’t about being positive all the time and finding the “silver lining” in situations that suck. It’s about not blaming other people and the world around you for your life experience. It’s about being honest with yourself and admitting that you always have a choice and you’re the only one who makes it.

It’s about having your own back and committing to yourself, no matter what the world throws at you.

It’s about taking advantage of your innate ability to live a conscious life with intention.

You don’t have to believe that your life is happening to you anymore. You can decide right now to drop the illusion that someone is holding a gun to your head making you show up to work everyday, pay your bills, and knock out your to-do list.

The sooner you drop the charade, the sooner you can begin to shape your life into exactly what you want. I invite you to accept this reality. I encourage you to show yourself compassion with this truth.

There’s no need to beat yourself up about the choices you made in the past or worry about the choices you haven’t made yet. It’s enough just knowing that you are the one doing the choosing. That in itself will make things smoother.

Experiencing loss led me to act on my desire to travel. It didn’t make me travel.

It’s time we pulled our heads out of the sand and took a look around. It’s pretty sweet up here once you see that you are the only one in control of your life. After all, there’s not much else you can control.

What do you tell yourself you HAVE to do?

Echo Beach, Bali, Indonesia.

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