• Stephanie Hinds

The Power of Choice

Driving home last night to my favorite radio program called “Intelligence for Your Life”, I heard something remarkable. It went like this:

“The more choices we have, the more likely we are to sample more things.”

The host had been talking about a study that was conducted that proved that people ate up to 40% more at restaurants with longer menus.

This got me thinking about the place I used to be in my life where I felt that, for some reason, I had no choices. And I surely didn’t only mean food. Romantically, I felt my choices were limited. I felt that my options for my future were limited. I felt that financially, I would be stuck where I was. I felt very confined.

Over time, I opened myself up to the reality that the world is pretty big, and that the world is pretty much mine and I grew to realize and understand that there are choices everywhere.

When I first started dating, my logic was that if I always dated someone who was not as smart as me, not as good looking as me, and not as accomplished as I was, that I wouldn’t have to compete against other women and my position in his life would be secured.

For the longest time, I would date guys with criminal records, guys that already had a kid, and guys who didn’t work. I felt that because I had what they didn’t (except for the children), that they would appreciate me more.

The funny thing about men and humans in general, is that we are not programmed like that.

In fact, things worked the opposite way.

Because I was a little farther ahead than them, they used me and my resources to try and catch up. They weren’t trying to better themselves, they just wanted to reap the rewards of things they might not ever see without doing the work I had done. They wanted to be driven around in my car without having one of their own, use my money for things because they had none, have me babysit their child while they would do I don’t know what.

At some point in time, I got sick of it all.

I didn’t throw my hands up in the air and hate the rest of the world. I didn’t look at it as time wasted, or money wasted, even though there were times the money I spent on them would have come in handy. I didn’t hate these men, and I surely didn’t hate myself.

I realized there was more out there for me.

So I heightened my standards. I raised the bar so high that it may have been a little bit above me.

The thing is, if you don’t acknowledge your worth, and state that over and over again relentlessly, whether it’s out loud or in your head or to your friends or your potential partners, you will always get less than

what you deserve.

The worst part is that you’ll be living in this crazy mental state where you can actually convince yourself you’re happy, but deep down inside the honest part of you is wondering why you’re selling yourself short.

I know there are a ton of people, young and old, black and white, who have either been in my situation, or are still in my situation. And I know that you wake up in the morning and feel a disparity between the love you have in your heart for your partner, and the love you want to have for your partner, that not even the crazy mental state can fake.

I know that you hear your own voice in your head saying, “I deserve better” everytime you get in an argument and they say something a little too mean, or slam the door in your face yet again.

And you know what? That voice in your head is right.

But for some reason, you won’t leave. You can’t leave. You feel like you’re in too deep. You have too many pictures together on social media and you don’t want everyone to know you broke up. Or, quite simply, you feel like you’re better off semi-happy with this person because you’re not sure there is more out there for you.

Please rethink that.

Ultimately, every second of your life is a time to be critical and a time to evaluate your choices. Because every second of your life you spend pleasing someone else at the cost of your own happiness is detrimental to your overall well-being and your overall experience of what it means to truly live.

The more you open yourself up to love, the more abundantly it comes to you.

What that means is, when you open your mind, heart, and soul up to love, it comes in your direction and flows through your body because you are able to receive it. It’s more than someone just saying, “I love you” just enough to get you to believe it, but letting their actions create doubt and fear in your mind and heart that it isn’t true.

Actions speak louder than words.

The thing is…we have this idea that the only love that exists is romantic love. So not true.

There is love everywhere.

Have you ever seen the greeting an owner gets from their dog after a long day at work? That's love. Have you ever seen the way a newborn looks at their mother while being breastfed? That's love.

All of these things are reminders that love exists, love is real, and love is waiting for you. But the kind of love you desire won’t come until you’re ready, and maybe even a bit after. Because you still need to spend time loving yourself. And over time you will.

Not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that you truly grow to understand why that voice in your head was telling you that you deserve better. You will even grow to believe that. And in time, you will respect yourself so much more for gathering the strength to walk away.

Ironically enough, sometimes the kind of love we experience can hold us back from the kind of love we should experience. Instead of opening the world up, it closes it, and leaves us with nowhere to turn, and no beautiful scenery to look at.

As short as life is, it’s also very long. And you don’t want the balcony that overlooks the garbage dumps at the bottom of your run-down apartment building. You want to overlook the water and have a city view. Don’t just settle for the unit because the landlord tells you there are no other units available.

You tell that landlord that you’ll find another building.

Having an abundance of choices does nothing if you do not have the strength to choose something other than what you've always chosen, or date someone different than who you've always dated. And you will never, ever know how good something on the menu tastes if you are too afraid to order it.

But the best part of all of this is that if you don't like it, you can send it back to the kitchen and order something else. You can ask the chef to make your dish a special way. And even then, if that chef says no, you can leave the restaurant and cook your own damn dish...

In your apartment that overlooks the water and has the city view.

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