20 Jan 2018
“I have to” – these three words when used together like this can be the most restricting, suffocating and draining language you will ever hear yourself say. “I have to get out of bed”, “I have to go to work”, “I have to do my homework”, “I have to lose weight”, “I have to go to this thing”, “I have to…” blah, blah, blah….We all seem to do it to some degree or another, some more than others, and I will admit that it probably is one of those phrases I use fairly regularly without even meaning too. But let me ask you this, is there anything that you actually have to do?
“I have to work to pay my rent", "I have to eat, breath and drink to stay alive", " I have to obey the laws ” I might hear you say. Well to that I reply “Do you really have to? ” Let’s think about this for a moment. Yeah in order to earn money to pay our rent working is an option but is it the only option? Yes our bodies require us to eat nutritious food, breath in oxygen and drink clean water but we don’t have to do it if we don’t want to. Yes it’s nice to have a somewhat civilised society that obeys rules and conforms to certain ways of being but we don’t have to be that way, it isn’t our only option. So no, you don’t have to do anything – there is ALWAYS a choice. Whether you are aware of it or not, you “choose to”… every single moment of every single day. Now I am not saying this to cause anarchy or start up some rebellion (although sometimes I honestly do wonder if I might to get somethings to change in this world ;-) ), what I am asking you to do is pay attention to the language that you are telling yourself. We may think that there is only one choice as we often subconsciously go down the path of least resistance. We tend to do this because we know or fear what the outcome is if we were to take another path and most would not want to go that way. For example we may end up on the street if we don’t pay our rent; we cease to exist of we don’t eat, breath or drink; we end up in jail if we don’t obey the laws; we don’t get that career we want if we don’t do our homework; etc. You are always free to choose the other road if you want to but you don’t ever have to.
Let’s take this a little further. When we use the phrase “I have to” our brain sees only one option, and that is doing the thing that we have to do. It’s like we get tunnel vision, the blinkers get put on and we see only one door that will lead us out of this corner we have backed ourselves into. Sometimes it may feel like a noose around the neck, like we are being dragged and pulled in a direction that we don’t want to go. Sometimes we just blindly go that way because we haven’t been shown or are even aware that there is another way out. Either way, this line of thinking doesn’t allow you to feel the freedom of making your own choice because the language you have told yourself is “I have to” which pretty much translates to “This is the only option I have”. I don’t know about you but that kind of language makes me feel pretty drained, un-empowered and quite frankly pissed off. Where is the joy and freedom in life with that kind on mentality?
In contrast, when we use a phrase like “I choose to”, our brain is made aware that there are other options. We start to look around and pay attention to other choices that may appear in the periphery that we perhaps would not have seen with our blinkers on. We thought there was only one open door out of this corner however can now see that there is a window we can escape from, a trap door under the rug or a manhole in the ceiling. Or maybe there were other doors there but we hadn’t looked to see that they were unlocked the whole time and we could have easily walked through at any stage. This phrase “I choose to” brings with it an energy and sense of freedom, empowerment and responsibility for one’s own life. Far more uplifting and motivating than “I have to” wouldn’t you agree?
While we are at it, there’s a few more that you might want to consider removing from the self-limiting language bank: “I must…”, “I’ve got to…” and “I need to”. These could all be replaced with “I choose to” very easily and will have the same positive effect on your overall wellbeing. So what do you think? Is there anything that you have to do? What language will you choose from here on?