Saturday, August 17, 2013


Choice is one of the great human freedoms. It comes up frequently existential psychotherapy, and not just in the sense of, "I have to make a choice between options." The choices that we make each day--how we greet our day, what we eat, how we work--all come together to create the life we lead. 

We have to choose some things over others. Will we choose to go to college, or will we learn a trade? Will we spend our free afternoon reading or painting? Will we go to the gym or go home and watch television? Will we work overtime or will we spend time with our family?

The necessity of choice is real. We do not have time to do everything, and we really cannot “have it all.” Since we must choose, the important question is “What do we choose?”

We can recognize that our choices either bring us closer to who we are and want to be, or they take us farther away from ourselves. In my experience, the people who make the choices to bring themselves closer to who they are are the people who thrive.

And in order to make choices that bring us closer to who we are, we first have to know ourselves at our core. Over the door of my office there is a small inscription--”Know thyself.” I borrow the poetic turn of that phrase from the Oracle at Delphi, but the fundamental truth--that knowing ourselves leads us to walking in the world with authenticity--remains the same 4,000 years after it was originally inscribed.

And what do I do, then, when I constantly feel that I am making choices that are “not who I am?” I had a client who continually stated that his life was not what he wanted it to be. Eventually, I confronted this by saying, “Yes, but this is the life you have. More than that—this is the life you made, the life you chose.”

In those honest moments, we have to admit that is possible that the person we are is not the person that we want to be. And then I have another choice: Am I going to do something about it?

No comments:

Post a Comment