1. First, it's important to understand that the subtle difference between "settling" for something and "choosing" something is that settling is a passive choice that lets you off the hook in terms of taking responsibility for the consequences. If you feel you settled for something, you could tell yourself you did so because of pressures weighing upon you or fears—in other words, "you had no choice," but your gut will never really let you off the truth-hook. Making a choice, though more intimidating, puts you in the driver's seat of your own life and the consequences of each of your decisions. We have an inherent understanding of this, which is one reason we so often avoid making choices. We do not fear our choices; we fear managing the consequences of them by ourselves. Yet, in spite of the fear of the consequences of a personal choice, you will always find it easier to live with than settling for a situation in which you feel compromised.
2. Second, as a personal exercise, take note of how often you have "settled" for things in your life as opposed to chosen them, whether that is a relationship or not. Was settling for something driven by the fear of survival or the fear of nothing else (or no one else) coming along? Was a decision to settle for something driven by lack of resources? And is your situation different now? More to the point, are you different now and capable of challenging fear-driven choices?
3. Take time to reflect upon what really matters in your life. Though all choices have the power to shift the direction of your life, some choices are far more significant. Ending the chaos created by settling for the less authentic choices begins by discerning the difference between what you want and what you need in your life, whether in relationships or other life choices. Following what you want is often a path filled with disappointments because it operates on a pain-pleasure scale, easily tipped and easily broken. The path of what you need, on the other hand, is a far deeper soul path that often anchors us in challenges that serve as depth charges. Through these challenges that seem to eclipse our wants, we so often discover our greatest talents and inner resources precisely because the path of what we need is the one demanding the most of us. Ironically, it is the path of what we need that leads us to that place of saying, "I would never have chosen this, but I am so glad I'm here."
Being able to say to yourself, "I may want to do this, but I need to do that," is an indication that you are shifting a value system to one that is far more in harmony with your inner life. Such an approach to your life may not make your decisions easier, but inner clarity and wisdom most certainly will make navigating your life a much more fulfilling experience.
A wisdom jewel: It's better to want what you don't have than to have what you don't want.
Caroline Myss has been in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness for 20 years. Since 1982, she has worked as a medical intuitive, providing individuals with an evaluation of the health of their energetic anatomy system. She specializes in assisting people in understanding the emotional, psychological and physical reasons their bodies have developed an illness. Myss is a New York Times best-selling author whose books include Anatomy of the Spirit, Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, Sacred Contracts and Entering the Castle. Myss' latest book, Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason, was published by Hay House in October 2009. Visit her website at Myss.com.