On occasions we’ve all been stuck in a place where we believe we have no choice. Sometimes “I have no choice” is even welcome; eliminating choice releases us from the quandary of decision-making.

Hopefully, since that happened, you’ve now moved beyond the dilemma. It can be problematic and wearing to feel that one is doing something – even living a life – not by choice but by some imperative that commands us.

It doesn’t have to be like that, it can be managed. There are all sorts of ways of creating options that at first glance are not apparent.

I know that this line of thought can provoke a reaction is some people like ”It’s alright for you… but I REALLY don’t have any choice.” Before you write me off with some sort male Pollyanna, let me explain.


Choice is a concept we create as a way of describing alternatives. Naturally, when someone thinks that they have no choice, it is because they can’t see alternatives at that moment. The “I have no alternative” mindset becomes a self-confirming belief that prevents them from considering other possibilities.

Have you ever had the experience of finding an option you hadn’t envisaged as a result of speaking to someone about a situation you were facing? Different perspectives can open up new possibilities.

Choice is empowering and feeling you have no choice is the opposite. Rather than dwelling on the perceived impasse, try this exercise:


Find a space where you can get some time to yourself without distractions

  1. Settle yourself and prepare to make a list
  2. Brainstorm – allow yourself some fantasy and dreaming here – as many alternatives as you can think up. Have fun with this.
  3. DO NOT edit or mull the ideas over, simply write down whatever comes to mind. Some of these will be ridiculous, some wild or impossible imaginings, just make the list without judging.
  4. As you compile your list, some options may even be acceptable to you, but still unattainable or out of reach. It doesn’t matter, write them down. The aim at this stage is to make a list, not assess viability.
  5. When you’re done, review your list. Remove any options that might be illegal or dangerous, and you’ll be left with a selection of ideas that you may not want or cannot achieve. That’s fine, the aim here is creating options, not finding solutions.

What typically happens with this exercise is that you start out with one option only, which you feel you have to do but which you’d rather not do (“I Have no choice so I have to do X”).

Let’s say that your list has six further options, things you either cannot to will not do, which makes a total of seven options. In a few minutes this exercise will have taken you from one option (you don’t want), to seven options (you don’t want or can’t have). If you have seven options, even though they are not acceptable or possible,  you now have choice, and choice is empowering.

Having choice and exercising choice are two different things.

 Post Script:

If you are stuck in a difficult situation this post might appear flippant or simplistic. That’s because it is a post and not an instruction manual. Posts are designed to introduce a topic rather than explain in detail (mine are, anyway). If you are stuck, and this post doesn’t address your needs, remember that you can email or call me and we’ll talk it through.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


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