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When Did You Stop Choosing You?

Hand holding up popsicle sticks

This week, I had the opportunity to coach someone living in anxiety, doubt, and fear of making a decision that had been looming over them for years. As they passionately regurgitated every thought and feeling one could possibly have, I noticed a recurring theme kept emerging…


They thought they weren’t good enough, having placed too much value on what others think of them. They were paralyzed—covered by a self-imposed question mark—wondering if they were worthy of being chosen by others.


Their thoughts were consumed by past failures, the guilt of being human and not always doing things perfectly, living in disappointment and negative self-talk. They knew in their soul that a decision needed to be made, but the thought of what others might think kept them stuck in a state of fear.


I knew it would have been easy to step into their regurgitation and agree that their over-analyzed problems were valid, but I stopped for a moment and asked myself what this person needed. I was quickly reminded that they chose to call me knowing there were others they could have reached out to. This person knew they could count on me to be direct with getting to the point, and “saying it like it is” with the pure intention of moving them forward.


So this is exactly what I did, starting with these questions:

  • When did you stop choosing you?

  • When did you decide it was okay to set aside or bury what truly matters to you the most?

  • When did you choose to numb out, ignoring your thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams?

  • When did you sell yourself out and allow the thoughts of others to become a meter for your worthiness?

  • When did you decide that what others think of you should dictate how you live?

  • When did you allow it to become okay for anyone to neglect your needs or to disrespect your boundaries including yourself?

  • When did you become a victim of yourself and start believing that you have no choice?

  • What is important enough for you to choose you?


Note that these questions didn’t focus on any of the challenges this person felt they were facing, and had nothing to do with anyone other than themselves. These questions were about choosing themselves and committing to living life fully.


Are You Giving Away Your Stick?

Throughout my many years on the planet, I didn’t always choose myself. In fact, at one point I had decided I was the victim of others giving too much focus to what other people thought of me. I couldn’t figure out why the difference I made by loving, giving, and serving others had me continually coming up personally short. It wasn’t until experiencing an activity in a human development training that I finally got it.


I was on a team of 60 people, all standing in a circle in a conference room—a table of trainers sitting proudly in the back, watching us. Each participant was given ten popsicle sticks to use for voting on who they thought were good candidates to make a difference in our world. We were each directed to walk around the circle, standing in front of each person—all fifty-nine of them—and verbalize whether they “got to go,” or “did not get to go.” We would hand the chosen ones a popsicle stick, and then move on the next person; voting each time in what felt like a hundred hours… it was grueling.


When I finally got back to my spot in the circle, participants started standing in front me, and one by one they loudly yelled, “You go!” The popsicle sticks were coming at me so fast that I couldn’t hold them all in my hands, so I started sticking them in my socks. This is when the really crazy thing happened…


I was standing there, covered in 59 popsicle sticks, when a powerful trainer jumped up from the back table and came running over. She abruptly stood in front of me and screamed, “Where is your stick?!” Startled, I looked at her and said I had given away my ten sticks to the others. She got in my face, and with a few choice words, screamed at me for giving away my stick—for not voting for myself.


Her passionate words got louder and louder as she expressed that 59 people in that room had chosen me, and that once again I had not chosen myself. Her piercing blue eyes reached right into my soul as she finished with:


“How dare you Terilynn. It’s time for you to knock off this bullsh—. You were born a super star and it’s time that you respect that and start acting like it, or give the f—n sticks back!”


She shook her head at me in disgust, did an about face and marched back to the trainer’s table. I stood there stunned, bent over sobbing; not because of the 59 votes I had received, but because I had not chosen myself my entire life. As you can imagine, thanks to that trainer, this was a turning point in my life, and now I choose me.


Start Choosing You

Do you choose you? Take a moment to:

  •  Examine any areas of your life where you may be too focused on what others think about you.

  • Ask yourself: have you been setting your needs, desires, dreams and hopes aside?

  • Make a list of what it means to you to “choose you,” and keep it in a place where you can refer to it daily.


This is your life, so live it fully with respect and gratitude, and be an example for others. You got this!

Share any thoughts you've had on "you choosing you," and what you have come up with; it helps keep me fresh and on track!
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