Have you ever considered life is like the game show, Let’s Make a Deal. Some of you may have seen it when it aired years ago with Monty Hall as host. (FYI, today, Wayne Brady is the host). The audience dresses up in crazy costumes hoping to be chosen as a contestant. The contestants are offered an exciting prize which is behind one of 3 doors. Booby prizes are behind the other 2 doors. However, to add suspense, the host offers the contestant a “sure” prize or they can give up the “sure” prize for the bigger prize behind the door. Of course, most contestants risk the “sure” prize and choose Door #1, Door #2 or Door #3. At this point you may be asking yourself “What in the world does any of this have to do with life?” Bear with me and read through the article. At the end, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Choosing door #1, #2, or #3 is like life in that life is about options, i.e. the choices we make. Do we choose door #1, #2, or #3 and what are the outcomes behind each of those doors? I bet some of you are already saying “But I don’t have choices. I don’t have control over my life.” I would argue that you have more control than you believe. True, there are things in life that happen which you cannot control. However, you always have control over how you decide to respond to events that occur outside of your control.
A large part of my work with my clients involves self-responsibility. If you really think about it, no one can make you do something you don’t want to do, unless of course they are holding a gun to your head (yucky thought). My standing joke is there are two things about yourself you cannot control – genetics and death. For me it means that I cannot change the fact that I am white and will die at some point. For example, I can’t decide, genetically, to become Hispanic or black. I can change the length and color of my hair. I can have plastic surgery to change my appearance. I can even have surgery to change my biological sex. I cannot, however, get rid of the genes my parents gave me.
The question becomes not one of control but what motivates us to make the choices we make. Simply put, our motivation is what lies behind the doors. We make a decision because we like, or don’t, like the result of that choice. For instance, a teen has a curfew when he goes out with friends. He has three choices: Door #1- go out and come home on time; Door #2-go out, come home late and be grounded (the consequence); Door #3-not go out at all. Most teens choose Door #1 because they like to be with their friends. They will go out and come home on time not because mom and dad said so but because they don’t want to be grounded which would prevent them going out again in the future.
So, why is this so important? It is important because when we say we “cannot” or “have to” do something we are giving our power away. We are limiting ourselves before weighing the pros and cons of our options, which prevents us from making the best choice.
Rather than say “can’t” or “should,” I challenge you to say “I choose” and watch how your thinking shifts. You will notice how this shift gives you a sense of control and power. You will see how you set your own rules and boundaries. You will see that by making this change, you start to focus on what is healthy and appropriate for yourself and ultimately improve the quality of our life!