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The Biggest Myth

The biggest myth of them all is that we don’t have a choice.

“I can’t say that.”

“I can’t do that.”

“I can’t quit.”

“I can’t pursue that passion.”

I’ve said all those things to myself and hundreds—thousands?—more. As a writer, I strive to be ever more specific in my word choice, so I’d like to amend those statements.

“I choose to stay silent.”

“I choose to not take that action.” “I choose to stay.” “I choose to ignore that passion.” When I phrase them that way, the whole meaning changes. Why do I choose to not say the thing I want to say, to keep my voice silent? Is it because I’m afraid of repercussions? Because I’m trying so hard to be polite, to be liked? Why do I choose not to quit, to stay in a situation that’s doing me harm? Out of obligation for the others involved? Would they want me to stay involved if they knew how I was feeling? Why on earth would I choose to not pursue a passion that interests me if it’s well within my reach to do so?

Suddenly, with the vocabulary of autonomy, my life opens up. I see every single choice that’s been there all along.

Imagine if every obligatory action was replaced with an authentically chosen one. Imagine if every instance handcuffed by “this is how it’s always been done” was replaced with intentional choice.

Our individual lives would be transformed, and our collective reality, too. Think of how the corporations, the politicians, the leaders might act differently if they didn’t feel beholden to some outdated expectation but instead were free to connect with their internal compass, guided by values.

The other day I read someone’s biggest takeaway from attending the recent COP26 climate summit. This person (I can’t remember who they were) was struck by the fact that we have all the solutions on hand. We can reduce emissions, curb warming temperatures, and transition to greener solutions. The problem is that politicians and corporations don’t want to do what’s needed.

I know that some of those leaders either don’t “believe” in climate change, don’t care, or care more about money than our future. But I also know that many others do want to act in the interest of climate, but feel trapped by reputation, voters, and stakeholders. On the grandest, most global scale, we’re being strongarmed by the myth that we don’t have a choice.

So I’ll say it again: We always have a choice.


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