"Choices" vs "Circumstances"...


Love me...Love me not
A number of things have me thinking about this topic today...

Let me share one:

husband works in the medical field and sometimes encounters patients who need services but who lack insurance or funds to pay. Often, he will try to arrange donations or "sponsors" who can help with medical care.

husband contacted a pharm rep about helping out a woman in need, and the rep responded that if this person made such bad choices in her life as to be so poor now--why was it anyone else's problem?

This angers me on many levels...

HOWEVER, it does get me to thinking about how much of our life is really within our control. I think I would say that choice vs circumstances is about 50/50 for determining the course of one's life.

I know there are things in my life that I definitely did not choose, but have to deal with anyway.

I also know that I have made good choices and bad choices with my life....could some of them been better? Maybe.

And sometimes one is forced to make choices based upon their circumstances at the time.

So what do you think? Are we all living the life we chose?

I would say "No." (I mean, after all, I would have chosen to have a healthy family, and more career opportunities, and not so many "emergencies" all the time...but what can I do?)

I think that you make your plans, and as they say, G-d laughs....

What do you think? What has been your experience?



Well-Known Member
Oh I think I mad really poor choices as a teen that lead me to be in the position I am today. I could have handled my "lot in life" very differently and been in a different place today. However, I wasnt emotionally or mature enough or even been given or taught the tools necessary to make those different choices. Sure some people would have made them anyway but I was also genetically predisposed to have mental health issues but I didnt even know that much.

If I had taken if one or two different paths in my early years I would be in a different place today. Would it have been a better place? Who can say. Maybe I would be richer but then maybe I would be with someone who didnt love me as much and would have dumped me when my mental issues became apparent. Ya know?


Going Green
First of all I think that drug rep needs slapped. Although, I'm SURE (coughcough) her life is positively perfect.

Personally, I think choices vs circumstances is a bit like Nurture vs Nature. It's a bit of both. You can make all the "right" choices and still wind up somewhere you don't want to be. At the same time, there are people who have made "bad" choices and things still seem to fall into place for them.

Besides, there are plenty of people in the world who do the right thing. They work hard, live well within their means, save their money and still wind up with nothing. It could be job related, health related, whatever....it happens.

To have that kind of an attitude towards people though...stupid. What about people who have made bad choices, spent their money unwisely but now want to do better? Are we supposed to condemn them because of their past?

Look at me. I was raised in a household where we didn't have a lot of money. There was never much of a savings account and had we had something major happen, we would have been in serious trouble. As an adult, I don't want to live like that but have found myself in the same situation. No, neither I or husband are the best about saving money, spending wisely, etc., but we're not ones to toss money out the window either. What we are, are people who have had things happen. Jobs lost, unexpected bills, a difficult child....basically real life. The same can be said for personal things too. I mentioned before that we are going to give the fertility treatments one more shot. It could be said that I don't deserve it. Why? Because one of the reasons I've been told I have issues is...um....let's just call it "young and stupid". There were problems in the past brought on by my own behavior that, while taken care of then, probably caused damage. However, that's not the only reason I've been told I have problems. There are other things that were and still are out of my control. I understand that my own actions brought SOME of this on and I've punished myself enough. At the same time though, I realize that even if those things hadn't happened, because of the other things, I could have still found myself in this position. And if someone told me that I shouldn't be able to get help and/or I deserved it or brought it on myself? I would be telling that person something about a frog's geneolgy.

Obviously, when we as a community or individual, try to help someone, we want to know that that person is going cooperate. We're not going to give money to a compulsive gambler for example, if that person is still gambling. But to assume that a person is in financial difficulties because of poor choices....asinine. And as I said before....that may very well have been the case but shouldn't mean that the person doesn't want to turn things around.

A bit of rambling perhaps, but that's my take on things.


Love me...Love me not
If I had taken if one or two different paths in my early years I would be in a different place today. Would it have been a better place? Who can say. Maybe I would be richer but then maybe I would be with someone who didnt love me as much and would have dumped me when my mental issues became apparent. Ya know?
O absolutely!

When I review my life, I see the same things. I could have made different choices here or there....but I could not have escaped my family legacy...nor my own genetics that certainly contribute to difficult child's issues...and I might have been richer....BUT who's to say...it's equally possible that I would have married a jerk who treated me horribly--And then what is the "value" of your life????

Given the same circumstances...I probably would have made many of the same choices--believing I was doing the right thing at the time.

So is our life really the product of some of us being better "choosers" than others? I cannot believe that is true...


Love me...Love me not
First of all I think that drug rep needs slapped. Although, I'm SURE (coughcough) her life is positively perfect.
I agree! I'd like to give that rep a taste of some of the "poor choices" that so many are facing....like unemployment, for example....so she can see how it feels to "choose" job loss.


husband and I were talking about this the other day.

difficult child knows a family and they have had some very difficult things handed to them in life.

Three young boys....mom was divorced, the lived life with- a mean stepfather...not too much money. Then mom died young. REally bad stuff. Then the bio father came and got them and moved them to our local area. Nice new wife, nice home, etc. All he asked is that they go to school, do their best and/or get jobs.

Well, they dropped out of school, did not look for work and even got into trouble with- the law. Eventually, dad kicked them out.

We tried to help them, but one of the boys stole from us. He has become an alcoholic,,.and life gets worse and worse for him,.

The other two boys...its pretty much for the same. Even when people try to help them, they rip people off. They borrow money and don't pay it back, etc. They don't even apologize or do their best to pay it back.
Then they make the excuses..."My mother died when I was young and life was tough."

The weird thing is that most people really, honestly DO feel very bad for these young boys and want to help them. But they can't help them if they do not help them selves. And they would be stupid to help them if the boys hurt them by stealing and/or being dishonest.

So, I do believe that life is not fair. Life was not fair to these young men. They certainly started off at a disadvantage and this is an unpleasant thing.

However, if they were able to kinda let that go and look at it differently...look at all the nice people...strangers even...who were willing to offer them jobs, who were even willing to forgive them when they didn't deserve it (the first time), then they could do better for themselves.

Instead, they have made a choice to concentrate on their difficulties and not look at the positives and what opportunities might be ahead of them if they work hard, made good friends with good people....it would very likely snowball for them in a positive way. Their "luck" would change....but it really starts with them.

LIfe handed them something hard as children and as children we are limited...it is basically impossible to do for ourselves.

But after that....choice is very powerful. And if you make a bad choice (we are imperfect creatures) we do have a choice to make a better choice next go around.

These boys, as near as I can tell, have made many bad choices in a row and as long as they repeat this pattern...my guess is their circumstances will continue to be less than favorable and at this point it has little to do with- where they came from.


Love me...Love me not

Good point! Yes, there are folks who have a VERY tough start in life and still manage to be highly successful...

So what is the determining factor, do you think?

Is it ALL in the attitude? With the boys you talked about, for example, do they first need help dealing with their "issues" before they can begin to walk on the right path? And if they have some difficult child issues because of their early life....are they really making "poor choices" or are they suffering from a condition beyond their control?


Active Member
"We can''t control the hand we are dealt- only how we play it".....one of the best pieces of advice I ever got.


Active Member
As a child, you can not control your circumstances. As an adult, your choices greatly effect your circumstances. I understand we are sometimes born with issues that may affect our choices, but our choice to receive or not receive treatment can affect how it affects us.


Active Member
Wow, good timing for this question. Was just discussing this with my kids. It made me think when it came up, and again here in this thread, thinking again.

My difficult child knows I always wished I had gone to law school. He was saying the other day that he wishes he hadn't been born (well that he had, but much later in my life lol) because having him at 18 altered a path of mine, and he felt that had he not been born then, I would have gone on to law school. He said we'd have a nice house, you'd have a car mom. We wouldn't struggle. You would have moved away and not been responsible for grandma (my mentally ill mother). He felt I would have been saved from many things that happened in intervening years etc.

I told him: That I have always wished for law school. Even today it is "the dream". BUT I told him that I'd given this thought a few times and that I had realized a few things. WIthout me being here, had I moved away, I wouldn't have been here to hospitalize my mother. She might never have gotten diagnosis and medications. I would have lived far away and not spent years before my aunts death, loving her, being so close to her. I would give up anything for that time over again as it is, to experience her again. Nope. WOuldn't give up that time simply for law school. Then I said, what about having you? Say I'd married someone, had you, after starting a career etc. Well I'm a perfectionist. I'd have hated going through 7 years of school etc to give it up for a family. I truly think my values would have changed. I might have kept working and my kids might have been latch key kids. I might not have balanced well a marriage, children, career. I might have lost any combination of those. I would have grown to have different feelings of what is important to me. And quite frankly, regardless of poverty, the **** life handed me over the years, I like the way I've formed as a human being. I like what I've become, what I now instill into my children. I wouldn't give that up for anything. The surroundings (apartment instead of house, bus instead of car, struggle instead of mindless spending, sacrifice instead of abundance) are just that, surroundings. They could come from the sky tomorrow (think lotto win lol). But nothing can be bought or whatever to create me, but for the wealth of experiences I've had.

I made poor choices. I'd change some. But each bad choice taught me something otherwise I might never had learned. Lifes ups and downs are often what determine who we become. And I kinda like myself. Okay. I admit. I have learned to love myself. And be proud of myself. Maybe not "I'm a corporate lawyer tycoon" proud, but I am proud of who I am and I hold my head high in any company I keep.

I also wonder, what would it have done to me emotionally to give up a successful law career due to multiple sclerosis? What about the kids? If they had that silver spoon in their mouth, could they have coped with me giving it all up and the changes it would have meant to lifestyle? Instead, I have kids who are strong, who are goal oriented but also want a balance from work and family etc.

Sometimes looking back at would have dones and should have dones can be truly helpful. Sometimes it is all in perspective. One thing I do know, for me, is that I won't look back and kick myself at this stage in life. It is what it is. I'm broke. I'm disabled. I have no car. I rent, don't own. I live pay to pay. BUT! I have terrific kids. I have a great lovely apartment. We have nice things. We have alot of our "wants", just not all. I have a wonderful man who loves me and my children and who is my best friend. We are not burned out emotionally or physically from high stress jobs. We don't carry any debt. None. What a stress reliever! We laugh and love well and openly.

Compared to 99% of the planet, we are already the top 1% of the wealthiest on the globe (in spite of being considered below poverty line in the western world). We are also I think in the top 1% of the happiest people in the world. We still have dreams and ambitions, we aren't wanting to be stuck in low income situation. We want to own a car and home. We want a family holiday every year. We are like everyone else. But we are okay where we are while we work as hard as we need to accomplish more. And we are enjoying the ride. And before anything else, we put being together and actually LIVING before everything else. Life is short :)

The short answer to your question for me would be answered, a mixture of both.
The long answer I guess, above, is that regardless of which, or both, looking back is what you make of it. Major regrets in people make me sad. I wish for everyone to always learn from history certainly, but it doesn't define us :)


Well-Known Member
There was a certain bag of wind who makes $20 million a year spouting self-serving narrow-mindedness being interviewed on the tv the other day. BoW says that health insurance should be just like clothes and houses. Some people can afford to live on the beach in a beautiful house, and some people can afford to live in apartments. Not the point. It's healthcare, not a luxury. Wouldn't give in.

Then BoW began talking about his drug addiction. When others have drug addictions, BoW feels that they should be arrested, tried and sent to jail. BoW, on the other hand, was arrested, went for rapid detox twice, and finally says he is drug free because of private therapy and twelve step programs. He became an ACLU client to have his record expunged. BoW says that drug addiction was the best thing that ever happened to him because now through his recovery he understands intimacy.

BoW suddenly went deaf one day. BoW hired a court stenographer to translate everything that was said to him in his media program so that he could respond and no one would be the wiser as to his condition. BoW went to the best hearing research and treatment facility in the nation and had a cochlear implant. BoW feels brave and smart for having corrected this problem.

Do we make choices? Yes. And we all know that there are consequences for those choices. And we find ourselves in circumstances that are uncomfortable because of those choices and consequences. My honest to god opinion is that this is probably ok for houses and clothing. I think it has no place in our health care system. And that people who have choices about health care and put down others who don't have choices are just about the lowest form of bigot.

But, that's just me.


"We can''t control the hand we are dealt- only how we play it."

What Klmno says is really great.

I do believe it is watching our attitude. I also believe that gratitude is very important and valuable. Understanding that we can't control others, but we can control ourselves. Often, we are greatly limited in what is happening around us, but we certainly can control our attitude about it all...we can control our thoughts. And we can make a choice to remove ourselves if need be. There is always control in this way. And like I said, if we make a mistake, we have a choice of picking ourselves up and making a correction or making a decision to not make that mistake again. I do think it pretty much starts with having a good attitude and controlling our thoughts....and if things aren't working out well for us...making a decision to re-think the situation and jumping back on the horse and going forward with- a new attitude. Children don't have these choices. But as adults, we do not have to get stuck in an unhealthy lifestyle, way of thinking, etc. We can make a choice...and then take action to move forward.

I think with- these boys, it's possible they need some help in understanding that they are their own worst enemy. However, there again, they would have to be open to hearing the message. Like someone said, even though at AA, each member helps the other, each member made a choice to put himself there. I'm not sure at what point a person comes to this realization. Sometimes it takes hitting bottom. Sometimes I wonder if a person has empathy for another human being and they see that their actions are hurting others perhaps it would help some see the light (not as likely I suppose). Perhaps volunteer work....perhaps the advice of someone they know well, love and trust. But something has to "click" I think before a person realizes their own self worth...their own value....their own tremendous contribution in their own happiness...and their role in society.


Active Member
thank you! I can't take credit though- it came from my therapist years ago. She was great! I have no idea what happened to the mold she was cut from though- the tdocs difficult child and I have seen sure don't seem to have half the insight she did.

I ran across a video of an old seminar given by a psychiatric to attorneys last night. It was about adolescent thinking and behavior- their abilities and our expectations- difficult child stuff in a way- pertaining to how some of them end up in trouble. I skipped thru parts because it was just over an hour long. I could post it if anyone is interested.