Having choices makes a world of difference in the quality of our lives. When we feel that we don’t have choices, we often feel stifled, trapped and hopeless. While not having a choice between different options simplifies our lives and our single, unchosen path may fit us like a glove, more often this is not the case. There are many situations in which we truly don’t have a choice, but there are many more situations in which we believe that we have no choices because we are unable to see what options we really do have.
One of my primary roles in working with older women is to help them become aware of how many choices they actually do have and help them develop the courage to make some different choices. For example, in past generations and to some extent even in present generations, women have been expected to marry and have children no matter how they personally felt about these matters. Women have also been expected to occupy certain life roles and to ignore or minimize the importance of fulfilling their own needs. We have been taught to be passive and accepting in the face of inequality. All of this is gradually changing.
Changes in the culture at large have opened up numerous opportunities that didn’t exist previously or that existed but were almost impossible to locate and actualize. This has been a wonderful evolution in women’s sociocultural situation. However, more often I deal with women who don’t see that they have choices when facing life problems and situations. Women have problems with husbands and partners, with their in-laws or adult children, dealing with health care systems and other bureaucracies and the fundamental “problem” of personal unhappiness. In all of these situations, we frequently have choices that we are unable to recognize. Let’s talk about the choices we make in our everyday lives and how these choices contribute or fail to contribute to our serenity and personal happiness.
- In what areas of your life have you felt you had no real choices? Looking back, was this actually true of these situations?
- Faced with these same situations today, would you feel equally trapped or that you have a choice? Knowing what you know now, what would you choose?
- Share your experience of a situation in which you believed that you had no choice but came to discover that you actually had options of which you were unaware.
- Sometimes we are held back in making choices due to feelings of guilt, beliefs about what it means to be a good person or values around loyalty and commitment. What personal beliefs, feelings or values hold you back from making choices from the options you do have?
- In what situations do you currently feel that you have no options? Are you thinking differently about options available to you now than you did before having this conversation with other women?