Have you ever heard anyone say something like “I have to work” or “I have to go to work tomorrow” or “I have to finish this project” or “I have to visit my parents this weekend”? It really is amazing how many times you and I use the “have to” phrase. What if we substituted “have to” with “get to”? When we say “have to” it seems to imply that we have no choice in the matter. The reality is we don’t have to do anything. No one is holding a gun over your head. You don’t have to go to work, finish the project, visit your parents or even get up in the morning. You don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do. You really don’t. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you don’t pay your taxes, the IRS may come looking for you and if you don’t go to work, you won’t get a pay check or be able to pay your bills. Actions do have consequences but, nonetheless, you really don’t “have to do anything.” It is always a choice and we are making lots of choices every day.
We always have a free will and that is an important thing to remember when it comes to emotional and mental health. The difference between maturity and immaturity is the ability to take responsibility and ownership for the choices you make in your life. When we believe we have no choice about our decisions, we adopt a “victim” mentality and that can lead to frustration, anger and bitterness. When we believe we always have choices and that we get to choose, we not only have a much more mature approach to life, but we overcome a lot of frustration that we so easily box ourselves in with. You can say “no”, choose something else, get a different job, move in a different direction, or find other friends and a host of other decisions in any given day. You can even have a better attitude. The choice is all yours! The next time you hear someone say, “I had no choice” or “I have to” maybe you can encourage them to think again. Life is always about choices. How would your life be different if you started thinking about “I get to” instead of “I have to”?