Choice is one of the most important human needs according to Marshall Rosenberg.
Choice is different from other needs in that it is an inalienable need. It cannot be taken from you.
The only way the need for choice is not met is if you lose your connection to it. Victor Frankel in his book The Meaning of Life tells his story of remaining connected to choice even in the extreme circumstance of a nazi concentration camp. He survived and escaped from the camp because he continued to view himself as at choice.
One of the most disempowering forms of language is that which implies there is no choice. Our language is rife with ways to deny choice. Here are a few examples:
"I have to." "Those are the rules." "It's an obligation." "This is a mandatory policy." "I have no choice." "It's your duty." "That's just the way it is." "That's just the way I am." "I can't help it." "You made me . . . " "Those are my orders."
The simple act of deleting the words, "Í have to", from your speech can reconnect you to your choice – your power in your own life.
When you feel yourself wanting to say "I have to" that's a good time to pause and ask, "What needs am I meeting by choosing to do this?" "What needs are at cost when I choose to do this?"
For example, when you hear yourself say, "I have to go to work." You can pause and have a dialogue with yourself that might sound something like this:
"I choose to go to work today because it meets my needs for security. In thinking about going to work, I feel frustrated and disheartened because it doesn't meet my needs for creativity, play, and connection. I wonder what I could do differently so that all these needs could be met in my day?"
Owning that you have a choice also means taking responsibility for your actions and your life. Sometimes this can be a little scary and it might seem easier to attribute responsibility to circumstance, others, the rules, etc.
In the end though, denying your choice means denying yourself the opportunity to create a life in which all of your needs are met. A life in which joy and abundance are your usual mode. Yes! This is possible.
Is there something in your life now that you have been telling yourself you have to do? Take a moment now and notice what needs you are meeting with that decision, what needs are at cost, and what else is possible?