I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this in my life. I have to stay at work late this week so I can meet my deadline. I have to work harder, work faster, so that I can achieve a result that will please others. I have to do a better job than everyone else.
The phrase ‘I have to’ immediately puts pressure on myself. Even writing the words now is increasing my anxiety levels. It’s crazy how much stress it adds to my life, and it’s not just my life that it’s adding stress to.
I have a friend who works for a multinational and his job requires him to be in contact with colleagues in America and London at all times of the day. He’s told me on numerous occasions how he’ll get a phone call at 3am, or that he’s expected to be on a conference call at 11pm that will go on for several hours. When I asked him recently why he puts up with that, he told me he had to, that he didn’t have a choice.
I was taken aback at this and told him that he absolutely had a choice.
He countered by saying that it was part of the job and that if he wanted to do the job then he just had to put up with it.
I pointed out to him that he was a smart guy and that he could do a different job, one that didn’t require him to be on call 24/7.
His response to this was to say that he had a mortgage to pay and therefore he needed this job.
I think I cracked a smile as he said this, as it’s something I hear many people say. I pointed out that every time he said, ‘I have to,’ it wasn’t true. The reality is that he chose to buy a house that required a big mortgage. If he wanted to he could have purchased a different house, one that didn’t put the same pressures onto his lifestyle. Therefore he chooses to stay in a job that plays havoc with his sleep cycles because it pays really well and allows him to live in the house that he wants to live in.
‘Want’ and ‘have’ are not the same thing, yet many people use them interchangeably. Like I said at the top, when I use the phrase, ‘I have to,’ I get stressed. When I use the phrase ‘I choose to,’ I feel empowered. Suddenly I’m in charge, I’m making choices, and I accept the effects that statement has on my life.
So, if I choose to buy a house that requires a big mortgage then that’s a decision I have made. No one forced me to do it, I didn’t have to do it. I chose to do it.
As a population we have let society place a lot of pressures on us. In Sydney there is an odd behaviour amongst many people in that they judge you based on where you live and how you dress. Why does the location of my home matter? Why is someone who lives in Mosman, or Bellevue Hill more important or prestigious than someone who lives in Liverpool or Castle Hill?
I’ll let you in on a secret that society doesn’t want you to know, they’re not. Society just wants you to feel pressured in conforming.
You have to buy the new iPhone or you’re not as cool as your friends. BULLSHIT!
You have to wear these clothes because otherwise you’re not fashionable. BULLSHIT!
You have to behave and think just like everyone else or otherwise you’ll be considered an outcast. BULLSHIT!
Society wants to control you, to tell you what’s important, it wants you to be materialistic. And sure, having stuff is nice, but really, how much of that stuff is making your life better?
I think it’s safe to say that there are very few things you have to do in life. Sure, not meeting your deadline at work is going to have repercussions. Yes, not paying your mortgage will most likely result in the bank taking that house away from you. But who’s to say that might not be a good thing?
If maintaining those things means that you’re not enjoying your life, then maybe it’s time you stopped to ask yourself why you are doing them?