“My wife and family are accustomed to a certain lifestyle,” he said. “It’s great that you have a choice to leave. I don’t think I could quit even if I wanted to.”
Back in 2016 when I decided to leave my corporate job (and the entire industry) to pursue teaching yoga, this comment completely shocked me. I had no idea how someone could feel so paralyzed by work and family.
Since then, I have discovered that we all have much more choice in our lives than we realize.
It may seem as though our circumstances have us constrained. Our families, our relationships, our past, our financial situation, our careers, and the expectations of others hold us back. In reality, we get to decide how we respond to those circumstances. Often times, we chose those circumstances in the first place.
The feeling of stuck-ness is a symptom of inaction or a surrendering of our power to someone or something outside of us. When I find myself creating mental drama about my experiences—“This is the worst,” “I wish I didn’t have to live with/work with/be related to this person,” “Everything about this is wrong!”—I remember that I have the ability to change the situation, my perception of the situation, or both.
Is there an unspoken request I can make? A conversation I need to have? An action I can take? Or am I simply taking this way too seriously?
Make no mistake: I understand there are people out in the world who are literally imprisoned by others. Their choices are much different, much more limited, and potentially life-threatening, absolutely. They do have the power to choose how they respond to their situation.
What I am addressing here is that many of us willingly and repeatedly choose to imprison ourselves.
We sacrifice our own desires to play nice with our superiors. We do things we disagree with in order to fulfill someone else’s wishes or to meet the expectations of others. We do this at the expense of our own happiness. We are quietly building resentment and keeping our self-expression small.
The more readily I allow myself to take action from my heart (instead of my fears), the less time I spend in a state of perceived helplessness. It also opens me up to a wider range of possibilities: Perhaps it is possible to have a flexible schedule and make enough money to live comfortably. Perhaps I can have a deeply connected, successful, label-free relationship. Maybe I am capable of starting my own business. Maybe I will even have supporters cheering me on.
What I know for certain is that I have a lot more power than I give myself credit for. And so do you.
Happy Independence Day. :)