Power of Reframing: Choose to instead of have to

We don’t have to do anything. We choose what we do. This reframe will change the way you view decision-making and how people view you.

Two weeks ago, we discussed how powerful replacing will with should is. Today, I urge you to replace have to with choose to. The difference between having to do something and choosing to do something is incredibly powerful, and it is only through reframing that we can have the ownership mindset required to conquer our lives.

I have to

Think about everything that we have to do. Just to name a few, we have to eat, sleep, and work. When pressed further, we might conclude that we have to eat because our bodies need nourishment. We have to sleep because our bodies need to reenergize. And we have to work so that we can pay our bills. But do we really have to do any of that? Of course not.

We don’t have to eat, sleep, or work. There’s just a good possibility that we would not survive without those three activities. But surviving is a choice. We don’t have to live. Very easily, we could give up and start wearing away. But we don’t.

I choose to

We choose to live. We choose to eat, sleep, and work. No one forces us to do anything. Whether we have a choice is in our minds. Often, our mind controls us and forces us to act. External and societal pressures force us to do everything else. But we don’t have to do anything. Once we blow past the I have to and take ownership over our choices, we can move forward with I choose to.

Many people believe that Stoicism means emotionless. But the Stoics were onto something with their ideas of choice. Instead of having to do something because of someone or something else, the Stoics believed that we can take back control of our mind and choose. And it is only when we make choices, when we control our mind, that we are ever truly free to live.

Changes

Changing have to to choose to will change your perspective. It will change how you perceive yourself in the world. And it will change how others view you. Instead of complaining about everything you have to do, suddenly, you’re showing how much you get done and everything on your plate by expressing what you choose to do.

No longer do you have to do the laundry. Instead, you choose to do laundry and not, for example, go out to drinks. This is because you prioritized getting the laundry done over having a drink with a friend.

This will be a challenge at first (and for a long time). Just like being busy, changing your perspective on having to do something to choosing to do something takes a lot of time and practice.

At first, it will sound awkward when you go around telling everyone what you are choosing to do. But then, you’ll notice a shift. Instead of complaining to a friend about how you have to do a spreadsheet for your boss, suddenly you don’t have to, so you can’t complain about it.

There’s a very good chance that complaining will go down significantly because when you choose to do something, it’s difficult to complain about your choice. The worst part about this reframing exercise is that you’ll notice other people have to do a lot.

And you will become annoyed. When everyone else has to do everything, and you know that they are choosing, you’ll think twice about the time and energy you spend on that person. Hopefully, reframing have to to choose to will change the way you interact with others, which will change your life.

The naysayers

I will be the first to admit that I still have a hard time with choosing. Many people offer excuses about how they have to do things because someone will die, someone relies on them, or someone needs them. When you support someone else, it’s easy to fall into having to do all these things.

Even in the worst case, if someone controls you physically, you still control your mind. You own how you react. You choose.

I’d love to hear the challenges that you face when reframing have to to choose to. Similar to will over should, simple reframing exercises will go a long way on your journey to take back control of your mind and your life.

Before you can choose, you have to recognize that you can make choices on your own. Choose today.