The Curse of Having Too Many Choices

by Fernando Perfas

| Photo by Cory Woodward on Unsplash

I grew up under circumstances where there were limited choices in life. Without access to material resources, I often didn’t have any choice but to avail myself of what was at hand. From school, friends, the environment where I live, to the kind of life at home, these all fell within a limited orbit called my fate. It was a narrow and stifling life. Under this condition, I had to make do with what came my way and stay alert for opportunities that offered the possibility of improving my situation one small step at a time.

There was a small margin for error, and one bad decision could turn my life into an uncontrollable spin to perdition. The same seemingly oppressive circumstances also offered a rare opportunity to hone my survival ability and develop an entirely different attitude and perspective in life. Accepting the fact that there was no one to depend on early in life had forced me to develop a fierce sense of independence and self-reliance. All these unmet needs and wants carved a deep hollow in my heart so that later I could contain the simplest joy life had to offer, thereby allowing my soul to find or create more meaning in life.

I wonder what life would have been like if it were the other way around: if I had a lot of choices. It is hard to tell how my life would have played out. I could only guess that I would probably have not developed the intense determination, fortitude, and dedication to pursue my goals, appreciation for simple things, and a great deal of gratitude for life.

I can have an abundance of choices or be left with but one, and it is totally up to me what I do with it that will determine the outcome. Life is indeed a school where we learn the lessons meant for each of us. The sooner we take responsibility for how we feel, our outlook, and how we respond to eventualities, the sooner we become more at peace with ourselves.

There is no such thing as luck. There is only the ability to utilize whatever comes my way and turn them into life’s learning experience. There is an amount of fatalism in my belief about destiny. I have lived and continue to live a life that is meant to be. It is up to me to use whatever personal resources I have to decrease my suffering and increase my ability to be happy. Other people are not responsible for making me happy or miserable. My spouse or partner does not determine my ability to be happy. How I choose to feel, my attitude, or my state of being determines all that.

I can have an abundance of choices or be left with but one, and it is totally up to me what I do with it that will determine the outcome. Life is indeed a school where we learn the lessons meant for each of us. The sooner we take responsibility for how we feel, our outlook, and how we respond to eventualities, the sooner we become more at peace with ourselves. It sounds like a fierce stance on individualism. Be it as it may, I can only begin to care for and love my neighbor when I have come to terms with myself.

Reflecting on this subject brings to mind how living in an affluent society provided a different context for my children with regards to making choices. I remember during their late adolescence how they still struggle with making long-term choices and investing the time and energy necessary to shape their future. I guess they thought they had a few alternatives should one thing didn’t work out. A luxury that could prove a curse in character building.

When there is no plan B, we simply take the bull by its horns.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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