Friday, September 16, 2011

Do I HAVE to?

How many times have you heard this from a whining child (or maybe you just said it yesterday!). The truth is, we don't HAVE to do anything, unless we are physically overpowered and made to do it. Everything else is a choice. What gets us in trouble is when we confuse CHOOSING to do something with HAVING to do something.

When people are faced with a command or something that they believe they HAVE to do, they tend to resent it. The more unpleasant the thing they have to do, the more they resent that thing. They have the perception that they are being forced against their will to do something.

Sometimes we choose things because even though that thing is unpleasant, the consequence of doing that thing is desirable. For instance, I hear lots of people say, "I have to go to work." That is actually an inaccurate statement. It is more accurate to say, "I choose to go to work, because I choose the rewards I get from work, namely, money to pay my bills and to buy food and other desirable things." We choose to do something unpleasant in order to help us meet other pleasant goals or to avoid possible negative outcomes (paying taxes vs. going to prison, for example). These often unpleasant things are merely a means to an end.

What's the big deal about correctly stating whether we choose to do something or whether we have to do something? The big deal is that when we realize that we choose things rather than being forced to do them, we significantly reduce our resentment (our "upset", if you will). Even though the event itself is no more appealing, at least our experience with it is more pleasant. The other big deal is that realizing we are choosing something rather than being forced to do it allows us to take credit for making a wise decision.

You see, many people believe that they HAVE to stop smoking, and therefore they resent the process of ceasing to smoke. They may believe that they need to stop smoking to be able to walk farther or to breathe better, but THEY DO NOT HAVE TO walk farther or breathe better. Those things are optional. When people realize that it is their DECISION that leads them to stop smoking, and they realize that they can decide to smoke again at any moment, they feel much better about ceasing to smoke and they tend to me much more willing to quit.

The only two things in life that we have to do are to be born (because you were) and to die. Dying is unavoidable. Everything else is optional.

Remember the difference between "choosing to" and "having to", and you will lessen your frustration and resentment level and possibly be more successful in all your endeavors!

For more information, read Dr. Aldo Pucci's book Feel the Way You Want to Feel...No Matter What!