Choice and Responsiblity

by Natalie P.

May 28, 2007 | Filed Under The Heartless Bitch Way | 2 Comments

I met a really cool new person a while back.  We had this great conversation, and at one point we discussed the issue of conscious choice and making decisions. She posited that when you make a choice you have to really accept that YOU are making that choice, and that you have to accept the responsibility for it, and ultimately be happy with the choice you made.  There will ALWAYS be something better out there. Always be something more. At some point, though, we all have to make that decision. It was music to my ears.

She pointed out that the root of “decide” is the same root as “homicide” – “cidium” – to kill. (While the etymology dictionary says the root of decide is “caedere”, “to cut off”, the intent is the same). When you make a decision, you have to be prepared to accept that the alternate path (or paths) is now not an option.  So  in order to enjoy life, when you make a choice, you have to also choose to be happy with that choice.  You have to truly accept your responsibility for making that choice and then work to make it the right one.

Some people are forever making decisions and then miserable because they feel they were not somehow responsible for it. They constantly blame others or life or fate for why they are unhappy. They blame their choices and decisions on things that they believe are beyond their control, or argue that their behavior was not decision-based, that they had no conscious control over it.  I say that’s avoidant, pathological bullshit.  I think that if you decide something, you need to suck it up and go for it, and you need to accept that you made that choice, regardless of the outcome.

Now I’m not talking about those situations like “Sophie’s Choice” where you are forced into a terrible no-win decision by an outsider, but those life choices we are faced with every day. Do I buy that house? Do I take that job? Do I date that person? Do I get married? Do I have an affair? Do I get divorced? Do I hit my spouse? Do I badmouth a “friend” behind their back? Do I yell at my kid? Do I stop and help that person? The list is endless.

In the end, you are very much responsible for not only the fact that you made the decision and the outcome, but also for the fact that the alternatives may no longer be accessible now that the choice has been made.  That’s what “decide” means.  And I don’t accept that emotions are a viable excuse for not being responsible for decisions that result in bad behavior. As an adult, at every point along the way, we choose how we behave, how we react, and how we interact.

This is not to say that you can never go back, but certainly there are choices we make in our lives where there aren’t really options for return.  If I quit a job in a huff and burn bridges along the way, chances are I will never have an opportunity to go back, and may, in fact, damage my chances for other jobs because I’ve now lost a reference.  However, if I leave on good terms, try some place else, and realize some time later that it isn’t working, I might have a chance of getting my old job back…  But I’m never going to be happy in that new job if I am constantly questioning my choice and looking over my shoulder at the old job or the next potential one on the horizon.  If I want a real shot at success, I have to put my mind and my heard into my decision and trust it to be right. As the yogi’s say, “your energy goes where you put it.” Simple, trite, but true.  Have you ever learned to throw a baseball? They tell you to point your toe in the direction you are going to throw the ball.  In life, you have to point your energy in the direction you want to go. 

Unfortunately, it seems that too many people put their energy into crappy defeatist behavior and attitudes, while proclaiming that they really DO want positive outcomes… They design and manifest self-fulfilling prophecies of doom and defecation, and when the shit comes raining down on them they cry that life is stinky and just so darn unfair.

You know I’m going to say it, don’t you…?   “Wah. Wah. Fuckin’ wah.”

How can anyone have a positive outcome when at best they are grudgingly accepting their own choices and decisions and at worst, expecting and setting themselves up to fail?

By and large, when we make a decision, we have to accept that by choosing one option over others, we are “killing off” the other options and they are no longer available to us if we are to be truly happy.   The buddhists say that the root of all suffering is desire.  I believe the root of all suffering is to desire that which you cannot have – I call it the Unreasonable Sense of Entitlement.  If the 90’s was the “Blame Someone Else” decade, then the 00’s are shaping up to be the “The World Owes Me” decade.

The root of all suffering is the desire to want mutually conflicting and exclusive things and resent the choices you’ve made as if they are a sacrifice, for which you expect the universe to compensate you all the while resenting others for having somehow FORCED you into making that choice. The old adage is all too true: You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

… but here’s the kicker:  you can really enjoy eating that cake if you decide it’s what you truly want.

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2 comments so far
  1. Sarashay May 28, 2007 2:50 pm

    I stumble a bit on the notion that you must be “happy” with what you choose. Sometimes you can choose something and find out that it is not, in fact, what you thought it was going to be.

    What you can do is ACCEPT what you have chosen, even if it doesn’t make you ‘happy’. A lot of suffering (and whining) springs from being hung up on what you think ‘should’ be and refusing to deal with what IS.

    It’s not that you can’t change things. But that you can’t change things until you accept and understand how things actually are–as opposed to how you’d like things to be.

  2. Kimberly May 30, 2007 12:02 am

    Yeah, this rant is oh so true. I used to be one of those people who made decisions on “blind faith” and not thinking about the possible consequences/outcomes and most importantly, NOT FOLLOWING MY INTUITION when I made decisions. Having been through difficult situations, I NOW ALWAYS listen to my gut, even if it isn’t what I “wanted” or “thought SHOULD be.” I can honestly say that I accept responsibility for all my choices and the consequences of those choices. It gets pretty old when you hear people complaining about their “same ol situations” and haven’t made any attempts to bring about any sort of change. Yeah, I think it is just ignorant and illogical to EXPECT happiness after negative or otherwise unhealthy choices are made. If you want positive, think positive and do positive. How can you reap positive results if you go into a situation with a negative attitude? I think many people are just stuck in victim status, blaming EVERYONE around them for their circumstances or feel trapped. There are so many wonderful real-life stories about people who have removed themselves from negative situations/people and turned their lives around but that takes WORK. It takes COURAGE. It takes EFFORT. You can’t just sit around wishing and not taking appropriate action to make those “wishes” come true. People are just lazy and do not want to take the time to really think about what went wrong or how to not make the same poor choices over and over again. I do hope your advice goes far beyond the boundary of the Bitchitorial column. The planet definitely needs more of your kind Natalie P.


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