Choosing a Future

What Side of the fence? We make our own choices....

Depression has often been compared to sadness as “with sadness you cannot see a way for things to be worse, while similar in feeling, with depression you see no way for things to ever be better.” In the end, whether it is simply “a rut” that you need bouncing out of or full blown depression, the way out comes by seeing things differently and realizing that you can often actually control how you think about things. It is with the acceptance that many things in life are a choice, and that we have made choices and continue to that result in our current situations.

Acceptance that it is our own choices that are most responsible for our situation is a painful reality for many. This pain can be tempered though by understanding that we have reasons for making our choices, so just because we are not always completely satisfied and ecstatic with the result, it does not mean it was a bad choice for us at the time. Sometimes we make the choices we do because the alternative choice was simply too high a cost for us at the time we were making it. If this is accepted as true, then it is far easier to not be resentful of the choices we have made.

All Choices - and all at a cost of something ...
All Choices – and all at a cost of something …

The cost of the alternative was too high at the time that choice was made.

Many believe unhappiness in life usually comes from not having the things that we think we want. Depression inspires the belief that we cannot get them. Understanding the reason we do not have them makes it is easier to be content with what we do have.  While everybody has different things they want, looking at some examples of things people often say they want and the “cost” may make it clearer how it is really choice.

Example 1 – Super physical fitness is a classic example. Many lament they are not 8% body fat super muscular physically fit like that one friend, or the models in magazines and TV. “I would do anything to look like that” but the cost of looking like that is hours and hours in a gym, extremely strict diets, and fitness regimens that most would never consider actually doing. The “cost” in time effort and sacrifice is actually more than the desire to have the look, despite claims of “doing anything to look like that”.

Example 2 – I want more money is another very common one and actually can be replaced equally with big beautiful house, sports car, etc. While many would like to have these things, actually taking the direct route to getting those things by working 70 hours week, getting another job, never turn down overtime or holiday, cashing in vacation instead of use, don’t spend any money except true necessities so can save, etc., is simply too high for most. Most want to have other smaller extras, or spend less time working not more, so the actual desire for that luxury is actually far less than the cost to get it.

People stand the best chance at contentment once they start to accept some things would be nice to have, but they have made other choices instead that, at the time of the decision, had more value to them. Consider even the people looking for relationships. Many have wished to date or have a relationship and find it very hard. The fact is though, as much as they hate to be alone, the perceived “cost” of another possible “no” is greater than desire for having that relationship, or the fear of another bad relationship is greater than the desire to not be alone.

Even on the other end of the scale, when it is not a mansion, but simply not to be homeless. It is not a sports car but just food. There are still our own choices at play. The cost of asking for or accepting help, applying for another job while risking rejection again, giving up possessions or beloved animals, moving to another location and giving up friends or familiar places. Even those in the most dire straits are still deeply involved in the making of choices. Certainly many choices might boil down to the lesser evil, but they are our choices none the less.

People sometimes must learn to accept the reason they do not have some of the things they are convinced are missing from their life (or that they envy in the lives of others) is because they have chosen it. It is not chosen as in planned 2 years ago to be where they are right now, but it is the result of other decisions and choices along the way.  This is not the “take responsibility for your own actions speech” (though it may apply on occasion) but rather to accept you made those choices for a reason and even though the end result was not optimal, it was based on choices that you deemed best at the time. Even the reflective belief of you “should have done differently” does not automatically mean it was wrong at the time you chose.

When you have accepted that you got into a place by way of the choices you made in the past, then your mind can believe that choices you make now will in fact change the future.  That is how you see past hopelessness. You take the power of your choices back so that there is the possibility of change and with the possibility of change comes hope.  When you have hope and the knowledge that the choices you make today will change tomorrow, then you have a future again.

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12 Comments

    • It’s not about acceptness…it is when you do So much for your family and friends that all they do is talk negative to you…in my case first and fore most my mother…I gave up so much I’m my childhood and teenage years…I raised my 2 younger brothers…took care of my mother when she was sick…oh never mind

  • “Acceptance that it is our own choices that are most responsible for our situation is a painful reality for many.”

    What if key choices were not made by you but were imposed upon you? For me, it I find it incredible painful that at pivotal moments in my life, the decisions were not made by me.

  • I am sorry that you feel that choices were made for you – and it is true that sometimes things are out of our hands to some extent – but there are always choices that come from choices (if that makes any sense) and while some things “happen to us” – how we choose to react to that, how we choose to move forward – we can choose those things for ourselves and do good things for ourselves.

    I am sorry stuff happened to you that you couldn’t control, and that it was painful for you – that sucks – but for the future, you get to choose paths for yourselves. It isn’t often easy – but it is possible with the right support. Our community is focused on helping each other to choose the future – come and say hi 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment which I appreciate.

      You are right: in the future I get to choose the paths for myself – at least in theory. The people who have taken the choices for me in the past have realised that this has been wrong and are keen to point out that the choices will be mine in the future. But those choices are now hugely restricted as a result of what has happened in the past; in fact, some respects there are hardly choices at all. One of the other articles points out that responsibility without choice is torment.

  • This article is very one-sided. While it might help those who believe they cannot change anything, it will hurt those who did their best and still failed – as it is prone to cause them beat themselves to death over it.

    The truth is that you control a relatively small portion of your life. The rest is up to others and chance.
    Did your date reject you because you choose to dress funny – or because it was her decision, absolutely beyond your control?

    Believing your are in absolute control of your life is a beautiful lie, if you can keep it; but it is going to blow into your face when life proves you wrong with unexpected illness, death in the family etc.

    • Your example “Did your date reject you because you choose to dress funny – or because it was her decision, absolutely beyond your control? ” is an excellent example of a person claim they do not have choice because they can’t make decisions for everybody else in the world. You are confusing choice with control- they are very different things. Just because you do not control everybody and everything in the world does not mean they are not your choices to make. When somebody dies you choose how to respond and react. You choose virtually everything, you do not always control the outcome but your choices are what dictate the final outcome. If she rejected you do you choose to ask somebody else out on a date or do you choose to never date again claiming that all women hate you? Wanting to control everybody and everything and complaining when you cannot is an issue, but it is not anything to do with choice.

  • Please help. I am a.mom to an angel baby. I have 2 rainbows. My husband works long long hours. I feel so alone. I constantly shout at my kids. I work hard at work and do diy at home.because my husband works long hours. Earlier today he told me to fuck off and stop telling me what to do at hos jobs it just seems like hos boss takes the piss and isn’t interested in my husbands family. I want to die. I’ve had enough

  • I recognize that my choices have ruined me, but I’ve always recognized that, even as I made them. I’ve tried guilt and self-flagellation to get myself to function, but in the long run I always take the ‘easy’ path; the path will less immediate pain. I despise myself for it, but I do it over and over again. There is no reason for me to believe that that is going to change. I don’t expect good things to come to me if I make bad choices; I just wish I were the sort of person who had good character, who made good choices. I ‘choose’ not to focus for long, because when something is too important to me or isn’t interesting, focusing is misery. A good future is just an abstraction, especially when in your heart you don’t trust yourself to really make it happen. “I might as well let this moment go as it will, for past experience tells me that *I* won’t build anything worthwhile out of this present suffering.”

    Your article is the voice of the World as I hear it; and I agree; except that I think a person who consistently makes lousy choices shouldn’t be left alive to suffer them. Some people just WON’T make good choices that are conducive to their well-being. We call that having a bad character. We might also say they are LOSERS. Fine, fuck us LOSERS. We shouldn’t be your problem…until you make it as difficult for us to get out of the way as you can. You won’t let us buy painless, lethal drugs, have access to inert gas chambers, or to be euthanized by those who might be kind enough to do so. We just have to stay and suffer; the one choice that would free the World from us and us from the World; that hard, prudent choice that we only have to make ONCE, you make it as hard as possible for us to make.

  • Please don’t think that this article has anything to do with clinical depression which is a serious disorder.
    This author is talking about people who are “unhappy” or in a “depressed mood” because of their present circumstances and lack the understanding of what choices have to do with it.
    From my experience, most people usually already know that some of their choices have led to their present circumstances. For example I am fat because I ate too many calories and didn’t exercise enough. This makes me unhappy. But I know that if I make the choice to eat less calories and exercise that I can lose weight and will no longer be unhappy with my weight problem. Also, I don’t have to be unhappy now because I can choose to be fat and happy.
    This article is depressing because it points the finger at you and says “you are to blame, it is your fault”. There is no real substance, no real answers, no understanding as to what real depression is or the cause of it.
    People with real problems don’t need articles that make them feel bad, feel guilty, feel hopeless because of decisions they made.

    • The article makes the point that people can and do still have control and still can effect change on their own- that it is not hopeless and not impossible. Depression- if you have any real or first hand experience – is hard because you feel hopeless and that there is no way for things to get better- the classic – “sad is when you feel like things cant get worse, depression is feeling like things can’t get better” . Pointing out that they do have control is the point. It is of course very “comforting” to have people listen and acknowledge your pain and offer sympathy and feel sorry for you- (to some) – that however does absolutely nothing about the pain or the situation causing a large part of that pain.

      I am sorry that you are unable to see or unable to grasp the point of the article, and equally sorry that you believe the cure to depression or to getting better is for people to feel sorry for you and say how awful it must be while not actually offering any ideas on how to change it.

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