Behavior Modification

Everything We Do Is A Choice: Being Aware of Our Choices

Everything We Do Is A Choice: Being Aware of Our Choices
Image by Lars_Nissen 

The other day I was giving myself a "good talking to"… telling myself I really need to exercise regularly, eat better, take better care of myself… You get the picture. It was one of those days when I was determined to do better and was giving myself what was supposed to be a "pep talk" to get myself to follow a path of health and vibrancy. But of course I realized that all this "telling myself what to do" and this "sermonizing" to myself was not getting me anywhere… As with many of us, I still bristle at being "told what to do" -- whether by others or by myself.

What I realized is that when I made those same decisions (exercising, eating better, etc.) from a position of choice rather than a position of "have to" or "should", then I had a much better feeling about it. So I decided to experiment… Rather than saying to myself that I "should" or really "have to" exercise regularly, I said to myself "I choose to exercise regularly".

I Choose to...

It was interesting to note the different feeling or energy that accompanied that statement: "I choose…". Rather than a feeling of guilt, of not being "good enough", of not living up to what I know is "best", or feeling like I "had to" do something, I found myself feeling empowered. Saying "I choose to…" put me in a position of making choices for myself rather than following the dictates of somebody else or of my own "shoulds" and "have tos".

So throughout that day, whenever a situation came up when a "should" or "have to" came up, I would replace it with "I choose". For example, looking at the dirty dishes left over from the night before, instead of saying to myself "I have to do the dishes", I said "I choose to do the dishes". All of a sudden, the energy around washing those dishes changed… It was no longer a chore, something that I knew I had to do, but something that I was doing because I chose to do it, because I no longer wanted to look at those dirty dishes. Then later, as it came time for lunch, rather than saying "I really should eat something healthy", I said "I choose to eat something healthy".

The feelings I had from those two statements were like night and day -- the "really should" statements are usually accompanied by judgment (for failures in the past), by preaching (you know better than to eat junk food), by guilt (you're not taking good enough care of yourself)… Definitely not energies that are supportive of good feelings, not to mention good digestion.

However, when I replaced the "should" statement, with an "I choose" statement, I felt empowered to take care of myself. Saying "I choose" laid no guilt trip, imposed no rules that I "should" be following, did not make me feel like I was not doing it "right". Saying "I choose to eat healthy food" was very empowering and freeing. It took me out of the realm of the "rebellious child" and into the world of the empowered adult making choices of her own for her own wellbeing -- rather than doing what "others think is best" or what I'd been told was best for me. What I found is that applying the "I choose" method to anything that I was balking at doing changed the whole energy about it.

Everything We Do Is A Choice

Even if someone if holding a gun at you and telling you to hand over all your money, that is your choice. You can choose not to. Mind you the consequence of that choice may ensure your being shot, but it is still a choice nevertheless. A little less drastic example? OK. There are times when your body sends you signals -- it's hungry, it needs to go to the bathroom, it's thirsty.

Even if your body is sending those messages, you choose whether to respond immediately or whether to delay. All of those things are choices. While yes, you will have to eat eventually, you don't necessarily stop in the middle of a sentence and say, oops, I have to go right now, my body is hungry. It is a choice. Everything we do (except breathing possibly) is a choice -- and even with breathing, we can control the speed and frequency of our breath and we can hold our breath (to a point).

How Can This Work For You?

Let's look at some examples. Maybe it's Monday morning and you're resisting going to work. You have those Monday blues. Rather than muttering to yourself "I hate my job" or "I wish I didn't have to go to work", I suggest you might first look at the reasons you're going to work. Probably to earn some money for food, lodging, clothing, fun things, etc. So rather than going to work begrudgingly, you might try saying "I choose to go to work today". This puts a whole new spin on it, rather than "I have to go to work today".

Remember, you always have the choice. There are many people who have chosen to no longer go to work every day -- some are homeless, others are earning a living in other creative ways. Every morning when we get up -- that's a choice. We could choose to stay in bed all day, but we choose to get up (even if we say we're getting up because we "have to").

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

You could choose to stay in bed. You could choose to stay home all week. You might get fired? You might end up without a job? You might end up homeless? While all those scenarios are a little drastic, all of them are the result of choices made. So in the same way, going to work in the morning is a choice -- one we make each day.

I find myself feeling better about my actions when I remind myself that they are choices -- not "have tos". I choose to get up in the morning, I choose to work everyday, I choose to eat healthy foods, I choose to take good care of my health, I choose to wash the dishes, I choose to take out the garbage, I choose to be loving and patient with myself and others…

Being Aware of Our Choices

In the same way when I find myself feeling impatient, angry, etc., if I tell myself "I'm choosing to be impatient", "I'm choosing to be angry", it puts the whole thing in perspective. All of a sudden, I see that I have a choice. I could also choose to be patient, to be loving, to be understanding.

Now why would I choose to be impatient, when it is only getting me upset? When I see that the impatience is indeed a choice I'm making, I can choose differently. But sometimes, we just want to dwell in a feeling. And that's OK. We can, however, also choose to be honest with ourselves and recognize that being impatient, angry, resentful, etc. is a choice we are making. And then, when we're ready, we can choose otherwise.

This whole process has been quite a revelation to me and very freeing. All of a sudden I'm not doing anything because I "have to" anymore. I see that everything I've every done has been because I chose to do it -- but the difference is that now I'm aware that it is a choice, I no longer have to grumble and complain about it -- because I'm choosing, not "having to" do it.

I choose to wash the dirty dishes because if I don't they will accumulate and I'll no longer have any clean dishes to eat on. I could choose to not wash them and eat on dirty dishes (yuk), or I could choose to go hungry (not), or I could always go out to eat (I don't think so), I could choose to throw out the dishes and eat on paper plates (not very environmentally friendly), etc. So based on these alternatives, I see that I wash the dishes because I choose to… or I go to work because I choose to, or whatever I've felt was a "have to" in my life I really do because I choose to.

Everything is a choice… When we recognize that everything we do is because of a choice we're making, we then become empowered to choose things that bring us wellbeing and happiness -- because, after all, it is our choice.

Related Book:

Random Acts of Kindness
by Dawna Markova.

behaviorNamed a USA Today Best Bet for Educators, this is a book that encourages grace through the smallest gestures. The inspiration for the kindness movement, Random Acts of Kindness is an antidote for a weary world. Its true stories, thoughtful quotations, and suggestions for generosity inspire readers to live more compassionately in this beautiful new edition.

Info/Order this book. Also available as an audiobook.

More Related Books


About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on

Also From The Editors

InnerSelf Magazine: April 5, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
As I write this, it is Easter weekend. Also the period of Passover. And we've just had the Spring equinox, and before that, the Chinese New Year. All of these are about rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings... but also the ending of something else. Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: March 15, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
One thing everyone can agree on, regardless of their religion, race, gender, etc., is that life comes with its set of challenges. This week we share insights into the navigation of life's challenges. We begin with... Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: March 1, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
Change can go in two directions... growth or decay, and they both serve their purpose. Some things must decay in order for something else to be birthed, and then grow. This week we focus on change that we can initiate within ourselves and thus within the world. Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: February 15, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
As I write this, it is Valentine's Day, a day that is associated with love... romantic love. However, since romantic love is rather limited in that it, usually, applies just to the love between two people, this week, we look at Love from a broader perspective. Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: February 8, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
There are certain traits of humankind which are commendable, and, fortunately, we can emphasize and increase those tendencies in ourselves. We are evolving beings. We are not "set in stone" or stuck at any particular stage of our life. This week we focus on things we can change within our own self... Continue

Is It Good or Bad? And Are We Qualified to Judge?

Marie T. Russell
Judgment plays a big part in our lives, so much that we are not even aware most of the time that we are judging. If you didn't think that something was bad, it wouldn't upset you. If you didn't think that something was good, you wouldn't feel any loss when it was absent... Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: January 31, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
While the beginning of the year is behind us, each day brings us a new opportunity to start again, or to continue along our "new" journey. So this week, we bring you articles to support you on your continuation of the "new chapter" of your story, chapter 2021, that began on January 1st. Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: January 24th, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
This week, we focus on self-healing... Whether the healing is emotional, physical or spiritual, it is all connected within our own selves and also with the world around us. However, for healing to truly occur... Continue

A Made-Up Controversy - "Us" Against "Them"

Robert Jennings,
When people stop fighting and start listening, a funny thing happens. They realize they have much more in common than they thought. Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: January 17, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
This week, our focus is "perspective" or how we see ourselves, the people around us, our surroundings, and our reality. As shown in the picture above, something that appears huge, to a ladybug, can be tiny for a two-legged human, or even a four-legged animal. Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: January 10, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
This week, as we continue our journey into what has been - so far - a tumultuous 2021, we focus on tuning in to ourselves, and learning to hear intuitive messages, so as to be living the life we desire... one step, one choice, one moment at a time. Continue

Taking Sides? Nature Does Not Pick Sides! It Treats Everyone Equally

Marie T. Russell
Nature does not pick sides: it simply gives every plant a fair chance to life. The sun shines on everyone regardless of their size, race, language, or opinions. Can we not do the same? Forget our old quarrels, our old grievances, our old prejudices, and start looking at everyone on earth as another person just like us... Continue

InnerSelf Newsletter: January 3, 2021

InnerSelf Staff
As we welcome the new year, we say goodbye to the old... which can also mean - if we choose - letting go of things that don't work for us, including old attitudes and behaviors. Welcoming the new year is also traditionally a time of opening ourselves to new ways of being and to creating a new reality for ourselves. Continue

More Articles By This Author

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration




Lunar eclipse, May 12, 2022
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 23 - 29, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
05 21 rewilding the imagination in dangerous times 5362430 1920
Rewilding the Imagination in Dangerous Times
by Natureza Gabriel Kram
In a world that often seems intent on destroying itself, I find myself curating beauty -- the kind…
group of multi-racial individuals standing for a group photo
Seven Ways You Can Show Respect to Your Diverse Team (Video)
by Kelly McDonald
Respect is profoundly meaningful, but costs nothing to give. Here are ways you can demonstrate (and…
elephant walking in front of a setting sun
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 16 - 22, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
photo of Leo Buscaglia from cover of his book: Living, Loving and Learning
How to Change Someone's Life in a Few Seconds
by Joyce Vissell
My life was changed dramatically when someone took that second to point out my beauty.
a composite photograph of a total lunar eclipse
Astrological Overview and Horoscope: May 9 - 15, 2022
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
05 08 developing compassionate thinking 2593344 completed
Developing Compassionate Thinking Towards Self and Others
by Marie T. Russell,
When people speak of compassion, they mostly are referring to having compassion for others... for…
a man writing a letter
Writing the Truth and Allowing the Emotions to Flow
by Barbara Berger
Writing things down is a good way to practice truth telling.
Humbled and Exalted: Trusting the Tide of Events
Humbled and Exalted: Trusting the Tide of Events
by Alan Cohen
When you feel disappointed or hurt, it’s tempting to get on a soapbox of ego. Yet if we can trust…
Looking For Love & Approval
Looking For Love & Approval
by Alan Cohen
What would you be doing differently if you did not have to prove yourself to anyone? Your enemies…
Understanding Your Relationship to Your Past to Better Shape your Future
Understanding Your Relationship to Your Past to Better Shape your Future
by Dena Merriam
Each of us passes through an array of experiences that creates a beautiful but complex weaving of…


eyes predict health 4 9
What Your Eyes Reveal About Your Health
by Barbara Pierscionek, Anglia Ruskin University
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a smartphone app that can…
rebuilding environment 4 14
How Native Birds Are Returning To New Zealand’s Restored Urban Forests
by Elizabeth Elliot Noe, Lincoln University et al
Urbanisation, and the destruction of habitat it entails, is a major threat to native bird…
The Story Of Suffering And Death Behind Ireland’s Abortion Ban And Subsequent Legalization
The Story Of Suffering And Death Behind Ireland’s Abortion Ban And Subsequent Legalization
by Gretchen E. Ely, University of Tennessee
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the…
how much sleep you need 4 7
How Much Sleep You Really Need
by Barbara Jacquelyn Sahakian, University of Cambridge, et al
Most of us struggle to think well after a poor night’s sleep – feeling foggy and failing to perform…
trusting societies are happy 4 14
Why Trusting Societies Are Overall Happier
by enjamin Radcliff, University of Notre Dame
Human beings are social animals. This means, almost as a matter of logical necessity, that humans’…
benefits of lemmon water 4 14
Will Lemon Water Detox Or Energize You?
by Evangeline Mantzioris, University of South Australia
If you believe anecdotes online, drinking lukewarm water with a splash of lemon juice is…
economy 4 14
5 Things That Economists Know, But Sound Wrong To Most Other People
by Renaud Foucart, Lancaster University
A curious thing about our profession is that when we academic economists largely agree with each…
benefits of eliminating oil 4 7
How Phasing Out Oil Can Offer A Better Life For Many
by Jack Marley, The Conversation
If all demand for oil were eliminated and vehicles either electrified or rendered obsolete by…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities | | | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.