Podcast Episode 8 – Have To vs. Choose To

Jun 23, 2023 | Podcast

I’m Diana Swillinger and this is the Renew Your Mind podcast. Episode Number 8 Have to vs Choose To.

DIANA: Hey. Hey. How you all doing today? This was kind of a busy weekend for me. I record these on Mondays a lot, so I’m coming out of the weekend and this last weekend, it was Thursday through Saturday, actually. I was hanging out with a bunch of incredible entrepreneurs, like 3000 of them. This company went from having an in person event canceled to within a month and a half, creating an insane virtual event.

And it was filled with entrepreneurs who want to do amazing things. They want to help the world, they want to help people. And things aren’t deterring them. The change in the culture and the climate and everything happening is not deterring them. They’re so committed. They want to help people. They’re creative and they’re pushing through.
They have good work to do. So it was really inspiring and an incredible experience. I’m never going to forget. There was so much energy and hope.

So I guess I’m sharing this. Yes, I’m inspired to do more in my business and more as a coach and all that, but I’m sharing it with you because I don’t know what you’re feeling like these days. Maybe you aren’t feeling hope. Some people aren’t. Some people aren’t feeling a lot of positive right now.

So I want to share with you that there are lots of people who are. I just spent the weekend with 3000 of them. So you know what that tells me? It’s possible to have hope at a time like this. And it wouldn’t be fair to say it’s a bunch of entrepreneurs who have a lot of money and they’re doing great. It’s not that way. Some of the people are out of work and so they’re doing entrepreneurial things instead. Some of them were kind of hit upside the head with the way the economy is. They didn’t expect this. Their business took a hit. So it’s not like these are just bunch of rich entrepreneurs. These are just regular people who want to help people and they’re not deterred. They’re feeling hope. So hope is possible. And just knowing hope is possible can help shift us to hope sometimes.

I really love that. So if you need some hope, I want you to know there are people who have it and it’s possible. Just have some hope in that all. Uh, right on to today’s topic. Have to versus choose to. That’s just changing one word in a sentence. Sometimes if we swap out one word, it can change everything. I have to go to the store. I choose to go to the store. I have to make dinner. I choose to make dinner. I have to discipline my kids. I choose to discipline my kids. I don’t know if you can tell, but don’t worry, I’m going to unpack this. But there’s a difference. When you say I choose to instead of I have to, I have to makes it seem like there’s no options at all. I choose to represents options.

And people who understand the power of choosing don’t feel stuck. People who understand the power of choosing get to avoid feeling overwhelmed. People who understand the power of choosing get to experience some freedom and empowerment. But that’s not what a lot of us are doing. Most of us aren’t going around saying, I choose to. Usually we’re saying, I have to. I have to go to work. I have to take a shower. I have to go to the family reunion. Even though my aunt will tell me I’m a loser, I have to lose weight, I have to stay married, I have to.

As a phrase we’re used to saying, and when it’s a phrase that we’re used to saying, our brain will get stuck in a rut. We just keep thinking that phrase, or we speak that phrase, it’s just normal. I’ve been married for 27 years, and I’m hoping. And you’re like most people, they’re shocked when I tell them that because I look younger than I am, or at least I used to look younger than I am. Not as many people are as shocked lately, but I just tell them, when I got married, I was a baby. I kind of was. I was 20. I thought I was all grown up at the time, but I have a son right now who’s 21. So I know as a parent of someone that age, I was young. And I can understand now why my parents were hesitant.

But even when I was 20, I was determined that my husband and I were going to stay together
forever. I was going to prove to everybody who doubted us because we were young that it wasn’t a mistake. I wanted to be a, uh, good Christian, too. So in addition to just wanting to prove to people we were going to make this work, I had the idea that Christians don’t get divorced. So I walked into our marriage telling myself and the world and my husband and everybody that divorce was not an option and a discussion, and it was fine for many, many years, just having that mindset, it was fine.

But then about 20 years into my marriage, I was really starting to feel stuck. Our marriage had problems, and we were seeing counselors, we were working with mentors, and the marriage just wasn’t getting better. So here I was in a miserable marriage, and divorce wasn’t an option. So I thought I had to stay married. I have to. I have to stay married, is what I thought. And I felt totally stuck.

Then we ended up working with Dr. Rick Marks and mentioned him in a recent podcast episode. He’s our marriage counselor and coach who really, really helped us. And as we were working with him, I was doing work on my own too, renewing my mind and managing my thoughts. And I realized the phrase I have to, I have to stay married. It wasn’t actually true. The truth was, I didn’t have to. I had options. Now, this episode isn’t about the topic of divorce.

I don’t want to go too deep into that or what I believe about it. I’m not going to go there. The point is, I was developing an understanding of the power of I choose to instead of feeling stuck, and I have to. As soon as I realized that I have to stay married was a lie, I realized there were lots of options I could choose. It was so freeing. I became unstuck. I had one person ask me once, do your clients really say stuck? Is that what they’re saying is their problem? They feel stuck? Yeah, they feel stuck. I did an episode on being stuck on this podcast, and it was my most popular episode so far. And all of my clients, at some point when I’m coaching them, say they feel stuck. So I know this is something everyone else is feeling too. And I think it’s because we’re saying, I have to. I have to. But that’s not true. I almost even named this podcast Unstuck Yourself. It was a popular one.

I had some people on my Facebook page voting for the podcast title between Renew Your Mind and Unstuck Yourself. I got a lot of votes. It was, you know, 60 40, so a lot of people wanted it. But I realized that it’s renewing our mind. That is how we unstuck ourselves. So I went with renew your mind. Anyway, I learned when facing a pivotal moment in my marriage, that I could change my thought with just one word. Instead of I have to stay married, I choose to stay married. Every moment of every day I had a choice.

And instead of feeling stuck, I was feeling free, and I was feeling empowered. Also, when I was using the phrase I choose to stay married, I became aware that I could choose not to stay married. I could choose to separate, or I could choose to stay married but live in a different place. I could choose to work on my marriage. I could choose not to work on it. I could choose, and all throughout it, I’m still married. So essentially, at every moment, I ended up choosing to stay in my marriage. That doesn’t mean I accepted everything in our marriage that wasn’t working as okay, but it meant I got to choose what to think I get to choose what to feel. I get to choose what to do. Let me give you another example. Last summer, I was coaching someone who was dealing with stress and anxiety over having to give her cat injections of saline. You know, something different from a marriage. All right? A cat needed saline, so she had taken the cat to the vet. The vet said, uh, the cat needs regular injections of fluid.

Taught her how to do it, gave her the supplies, and sent her on her way. Then my client went home. She’s trying to inject the cat. The cat’s squirming. She’s unintentionally hurting the cat. The cat’s afraid and hiding. You can just imagine it, right? I used to try to give my cat pills. That was not easy. I cannot imagine giving injections. It sounds like there’d be a big learning curve. Anyway, now that she was hurting the cat, she was afraid to do it again. And we’re on our weekly call, and she’s telling me about all the stress that, uh, is in her life, and the biggest thing on her mind is the cat. And I noticed she had said, I have to. She said, I have to give my cat injections. And I’m like, hold on a second. You have to? She said, yes. Cat needs fluids to be healthy. I can’t take her to the vet that often. I don’t drive this and that and all these reasons why she had to. And I said, no, you don’t. You don’t have to. And I remember she kind of had this inquisitive look on her face, her head just slightly tilted to the side, kind of like she was looking at me like, what do you mean? What the heck are you saying? I don’t have to? And she asked me, I don’t I said, no, you don’t. So he came up with several options right on the spot. She could not give her cat any injections, and maybe the cat’s health would decline. She could have her son, who was living with her, learn how to inject the cat. She could take a cab to the vet as often as needed for them to do it. She could ask a neighbor to do it. She could hire someone to come do it.

That’s just five choices. I just rattled them right off to her. But she had not been able to think of any of those options before because her brain was already stuck on I have to. Her brain automatically went to I have to. So when the vet gave her all the supplies, she’s just like, I have to. And she went on her way. But when I got my client to the place where she could imagine all those choices and realized she didn’t have to, she was blown away. I could see her shoulders drop and her face relax. She, uh, smiled for the first time in her call, and she said out loud, I don’t have to. And once we got to that point and she was free from I have to, then she realized she could choose to give the cat shots, or she could choose not to. Or she could choose from one of the many other options or come up with several new options to choose from. How fun is that? So guess what? She chose not to give the cat shots. She decided to put the cat in her little pet backpack once a week and get on the bus and go to the vet and have them do it. And she felt relieved, and she felt great about it. She did not have to give the cat shots.

She had no more stress, and she wasn’t stuck. So here’s my challenge to you. Where do you feel trapped or stuck in your life? What is the I have to that you’re telling yourself. You might even have a big story about why you have to that might make a lot of sense to you, just like my client and the cat fluid injections. But maybe your story is not true at all.

And we do have free will. We really do. And we have the ability to choose. We aren’t stuck. In recent years, my marriage has been rebuilt. It’s so good in so many ways, but it’s not perfect. No one’s marriage is. If anyone says it is, I’m pretty sure they’re lying, because we’re all humans. We’re not perfect. And my husband and I, we still have tension or frustration sometimes, but I’m never feeling stuck in it like I used to. I don’t feel like a victim. And I have just as much choice in a challenging moment as I do in a good moment. I get the privilege of choosing to stay married every day. That’s actually good for my marriage. It’s really good. I’m not stuck with my husband.

Don’t you think that would help the marriage if I never thought I was stuck with him? Because I have to stay married, I get to choose to be with him. And what do you think that does for our marriage when I choose him? It builds our marriage, and I show up a lot better for him. You all want one more example? I use this cooking one all the time, so I’m giving you different examples because I want you to get an idea of how to do this for yourself. Okay? So let’s talk dinner. I have to make dinner. I used to think I had to make dinner. It was a big one for me. It might seem benign to just say, I have to make dinner. It’s 04:00. You look at your watch and you say, I have to make dinner. You’re not saying I choose to make dinner. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? It’s true. You have people in your house that need to eat, so I have to make dinner, but I have to kind of sounds like you don’t have a choice, does it?

Like there’s some mandate coming down from the family statutes that say you must make dinner or you’ll be in trouble if you don’t, or something’s wrong with you if you don’t. So you have to, or somebody else wants you to. So you think that means you don’t have a choice. You just have to. But all the emotions driving I have to are usually going to be negative. Maybe you’re afraid of someone else’s reaction. Maybe you have a list of expectations for yourself, or you’ll be disappointed or ashamed of yourself if you don’t meet that expectation.

Maybe you think it’ll mean you’re not doing it right or you’re not good enough. That’s another one of my clients tell me a lot that they feel like they’re not good enough, they should be doing better stories. They’re all stories in our brains. And all those stories with negative emotions tied to them are like chains that make you feel stuck or trapped and, um, like you have no options. So the first thing you have to do is drop all of those stories about why you think. You have to start by knowing they’re all stories. You just created them in your brain because you have ingrained beliefs. Those beliefs might not even be true. So if you start by accepting the truth that you don’t actually have to make dinner, do you believe that’s true? By the way, there’s a lot of people who don’t make dinner, like me. We just don’t advertise it on Instagram the way all the people who do make dinner do.

I’m not like, hey, look at me not making dinner over here. Maybe I should post a picture of an empty skillet in an empty plate. Maybe I get a lot of likes. I know someone who eats takeout most nights. She hardly ever cooks, and she loves it. She thinks it’s the right thing to do. She doesn’t have to make dinner, and she still eats. But isn’t that fascinating? You don’t have to make dinner. We just think we do because of a story in our brain. So what have you realized? You don’t actually have to make dinner, but you get to choose to. How would that be different? You could choose to. I’m the kind of mom who chooses to make dinner for my family. And I like that because that’s how I want to show up for them. Or I’m the kind of mom who chooses not to make dinner for my family, and that’s how I want to show up for them.

My boys are learning how to cook because I don’t make food for them. Maybe it’s a good thing, my choice. Maybe if I chose to make dinner for them, I’d be a good thing. They could all be good. I could have my family eat milk and cereal, canned goods, peanut butter and bread. I could let them fend for themselves. I can have pizza delivered. I could tell them to fast for the evening. Someone else could make them dinner. They could go to someone else’s house. There’s lots of options. All of them could be chosen. So you really need to stop and ask yourself why? Why are you choosing something? Why are you choosing to make dinner?

Whatever it is you think you have to do, realize, own it. You’re choosing it. Just own that you have a reason you’re choosing it. Maybe you want to avoid a negative feeling. Or maybe it’s how you want to show up. Or maybe you’re just afraid of trying other options. You have reasons. Or maybe it’s just always the way you’ve done it. I want to show up as a wife who looks for the good and her husband. I want to show up as the kind of wife who’s actively connected and engaged. I want to be a wife who chooses to love her husband, who chooses to stay married to him, and doesn’t do it because she has to. I think he likes that better too. And I want to show up as a relaxed mom. Making dinner stressed me out. I was uptight. I’m a lot more relaxed when I don’t have to make dinner for people.

I want to show up as the kind of mom who keeps the cabinet stocked. I want to show up as a mom who trusts that her kids are getting just the right experience they need in life, and it doesn’t have to match a different child’s experience. And I want to show up as a mom who’s not freaking out about getting it right or making sure they all get cooked meals with vegetables. So decide how you want to show up. Decide why you want to do things or choose things. And for sure, if you notice feeling obligated or stuck, challenge what you’re thinking about it. Do you really have to? Whatever it is you think you have to do, I promise you, you don’t. You don’t have to do any of it. Try changing it to I choose. Sometimes when we do that, we decide, maybe I don’t want to choose that. Maybe I want to choose something else. And there’s endless options. No more I have to choose to. All right.

Own it. All right. As always, I’m here to help you with your mind renewal journey. So listening to this podcast will certainly help you. But if you’re somebody who wants to feel better now, you want faster results in your life, you should definitely snag a free one on one coaching session with me. I would be honored to be your coach and help you make the progress that you want to so you can feel better and have more peace, more joy, and more contentment. Right now. You don’t have to wait. It’s possible. Go check it out at Rympodcast Um.com and I’ll talk to you next time. Take care. As an advanced certified life coach. I help christian women trying to live their best lives, but they still feel unsatisfied and stuck. Uh, I teach thought management skills at work so you can enjoy life again and step into who god has created you to be. Don’t forget to head on over to Rympodcast.com to get my free resources or a free coaching call.








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