by Dr. Susan Nettleton
No matter who we are or what our life circumstances are, we all have some opportunity for choice, for making decisions in our lives, for considering alternatives, and through our choices, shaping the direction of life. It is through the power of choice that we grow into psychological maturity and spiritual mastery. We may not have total control over a specific circumstance, but we do have some control, usually more than we think we do. If we have never been taught how to make decisions, if we have never learned to assert our preferences and opinions, if we are fearful that there is only one right choice in any situation and we cannot tolerate the possibility of making the wrong choice, we very likely avoid decisions—we let others do our thinking and choosing for us. We may capitulate to the will of stronger individuals, or we may become chronic advice-seekers (the more advice we seek the more helpless, confused, and incompetent we begin to feel), or we simply push choice out of our awareness and just let our lives be blown about by the prevailing forces of the world and the various shifting forces within us: our appetites, urges, momentary and conflicting desires. We give up our freedom. We give up our individuality. We give up our self-esteem.
Even when we are trying to live intuitively, seeking spiritual guidance through prayer and meditation, we cannot escape from choice. We decide to take our inner life seriously, we decide to listen, we decide to respond. There are often alternatives we must sort through and there is a certain "stick-to-it-ness" required of us. We choose to release our personal struggle and learn to let go to God.
Decision-making is a skill. It can be learned, practiced and mastered. At first we may make mistakes. It often demands courage. More simply, it demands we be who we are: unique, creative individuals with the power of choice.