Everything in life is a choice. We chose what we want to eat. We chose what we want to wear. We chose if we want to get out of bed. We chose if we go to work. We chose if we want to make a change in our lives. We chose to have a good day or a bad day. We chose our reactions to other people and situations. Even the idea of living itself boils down to a choice.
Granted some choices have some sever consequences, and others have higher benefits. If you chose to not pay your rent you may end up without a place to live, but if you do chose to make a living and pay your rent, you will have a roof over your head. Some choices are easier to make than others. It might not take a lot of brain space to figure out you want to have pizza for dinner; but you might take a longer time deciding if you want to quit your job. Further every choice’s difficulty varies from person to person, and some choices might not be easily executed for every person.
Still when we begin to understand that everything we do in life is a choice, it can be empowering and freeing. It can help us take control of our lives, but also weigh a heavy responsibility on our shoulders. We can become a bit prickly not understanding why other people make bad choices, that they may yet to understand is even a choice in the first place. We could also become more forgiving and compassionate with how we chose to react to negative situations and people.
In the end understanding that life is a choice is a very freeing truth. It is the ultimate control we can wield. We can look at every situation, every decision, and remember that we get to say in the end exactly how our person will react. We always can remind ourselves, “if I am uncomfortable I can leave. I can say no.” We can look at a negative person and say, “I am going to feed your negative energy with compassion, because I understand you are hurting”. We can come out of an extremely bad situation and say, “I can see this as a chance to grow, or to heal”. As we begin to take control of our choices in our life we begin to revel in that freedom. Once we have had a taste of that idea that we chose how to interact with life, and the world around us, we see that we all along had the ability to direct our lives.
So then when hear someone use the phrase, “what you need to understand is” it can be a punch in the gut. It can knock the wind out of us, and knock us on our butts. Much of the time people tend to get agitated when hearing this phrase. Other times people get defeated, or feel some how guilty or like they did something wrong. Like they some how inflicted extreme pain because they failed to grasp a seemingly simple concept.
Personally I have a very strong aversion to this particular phrase. I use to get rather defensive, and angry, shooting back with a similar thing that the person needed to understand. Sometimes I would feel rather guilty and down trodden, how could I have failed to see something that seemed so fundamental? Was I simple, or just plain dumb to have missed it? Depending on the severity of the situation, I could spend days mulling and spiraling over a situations, some times leading to deep depressive states.
Here is the thing though. If we accept that life is a choice, that we have complete freedom control over ourselves and lives, when someone comes out and says, “what you need to understand is” they are taking away that freedom. Essentially they are saying that “I have decided that you have to accept this fact and work from there, you do not get a choice in the matter”.
Depending on how far along you are in the understanding that life, and all that surrounds it, is a choice, this removal of freedom can come as more than just a shock. It can all out cause us to get into fight mode to defend what we know to be rightfully ours. It can also cause more depressed emotions, making us feel guilty for thinking that, let alone we deserved freedom, we actually began to act on that understanding. For you see when someone uses the phrase “the thing you need to understand is” they are attempting to control us. They are attempting to control how we interpret, how we react, and how we chose to proceed with a person or situation. Further they are using the path of belittling in order to exert unchecked control in the situation.
Most commonly I have heard this phrase used by people trying to get me to cut them slack, or act according to how they want me to in regards to them. Usually, I have found, people say this in regards to their personality to excuse a behavior they know is a negative one. Something that they know they should not do, but they want to be accepted all the same. They force this acceptance by telling us we need to understand something about them that causes this negative aspect; and they also feel they are entitled, or should be allowed to continue to be negative instead of changing.
Still, even when it comes to understanding personalities and traits of people, we always have a choice. We can chose to understand a fact about a person, or not. We can chose to act according to how a person wants us to or not. We can chose to placate this fact of a person, or not. We can even chose to accept the fact being presented to us, or not. We still have the choice, even if someone is trying to take that freedom away from us by ‘telling us how it is’.
This can also happen in situations, such as in the workforce, school, or other social situations. People want to excuse a negative social conditioning within society, and they do this by using the phrasing “the thing you need to understand is”. This phrase assumes that there is information that we have somehow missed that would make something excusable, even if it is not.
That is not to say that if we chose not to take these things into account we will have a better understanding, or it would change anything through denial. Yes we are in charge of what we chose to accept, however with some situations not accepting something does not make it any less true. It is usually better to accept the information given; but chose how to interact with those facts (we do not have to accept a negative social conditioning, that does not mean its origins are not true or unimportant).
We all have been guilty of attempting to use this phrase in order to make a point understood, or pleaded for understanding of ourselves from others. It is a commonly used phrase because it is so powerful in it’s implications; and we as humans have an inherent need for control. Still we can find ways to get the same point across without exerting power; and in many cases, have a more positive reception of information. For example, if you have a negative behavior that someone has called you out on, instead of saying, “what you need to understand is in my past….so this.” We can instead say something such as, “Well when I was younger this thing happened that conditioned that behavior in me. I am working through it/it causes a reaction that I have a hard time with”. In this way we are relaying information without attempting to control the person we are speaking to. We are allowing the listener to chose; and more often when allowed to chose people will pick compassion.
Further more when people use this phrase toward us, we again can chose how to react. Sure we can allow ourselves to feel belittled, become angry that someone wants to control us, or feel guilty for having a sense of freedom. Or we can chose to be compassionate, and see that this person is looking for acceptance. We can remind them that we do not need to understand anything, but can chose to. We can tell them that we may in fact understand what they are telling us, but it is not an excuse to treat us poorly, or behave in a negative manner. We can then chose to placate them in the future, or continue to help them move past then negative behavior. We can always chose to keep our power over ourselves.
Everything in life is a choice. Even to live and breath is a choice. Yet when the phrase “what you need to understand” is used there is an attempt to remove this choice and control the audience’s understanding, interpreting, and reactions to facts and situations. Although we may be a bit taken a back by this phrasing when used towards us, we can chose to see the other side of the coin and be compassionate and stay empowered. We can also chose to become more compassionate and respectful of others by using alternative phrases when trying to make a point or provide an understanding.
Practice in Peace and Love ❤