What People Really Mean When They Say, "The Choice Is Yours"

Human beings are masters of nonverbal communication. Facial expression. Body language. Vocal tone. We’re experts at picking up what is NOT being said.

The human race has one of the most complicated and sophisticated verbal communication systems in creation. Even with all that, 90% of the information we communicate gets transmitted nonverbally. We pick up the vast majority about what other people mean, think, and feel from sources other than their words.

We don’t need anyone to tell us when someone is lying to our faces. We pick it up subtly through the airwaves, through their body language, and through their past behavior toward us. We develop an instinct for when what they mean doesn’t match up with that noise coming out of their mouths.

In 1969, my father went to the leader of the group that he and my mother belonged to. My father told the group leader that he had decided to move himself, my mother, and my infant sister to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and TV. The group leader responded by saying, “The choice is yours.”

All of us who have spent time in mind control situations, either in cults or abusive relationships, understand this scenario only too well. I would bet everyone reading this has someone in our lives who does this to us on a regular basis.

See if you recognize any of these classic examples.

“The choice is yours.”

“It’s up to you.”

“I won’t try to stop you.”

Or my all-time personal favorite: “If you really think that’s a good idea…..” followed by the person trailing off into an ominous silence, obviously indicating that they don’t think it’s a good idea at all.

Just reading these, we can all see plain as day that the speaker is saying, “The choice is yours,” when in actual fact, they mean the exact opposite. The unspoken subtext makes it very clear to us that the choice is NOT ours, that it isn’t up to us, that they ARE trying to stop us from doing whatever course of action we plan to take, and that they will do just about anything to ensure that we do what they want us to do instead. 

The problem is that mind control manipulation in all its forms teaches us to mistrust our own instincts. Even when we understand at an intuitive level that the person is lying to us and they want to harm us and our interests, we question OURSELVES instead of them. We tell ourselves that, because WE are so bad and stupid and fallible, that the other person must be telling the truth even when our gut tells us they aren’t. 

So today I’m going to give you the one, sure-fire key to distinguish exactly when someone says, “The choice is yours,” and means it versus when their mouths form those words but they mean the opposite.

All mind control boils down to emotional blackmail.

We can easily determine what the person truly means by asking ourselves, “What will the consequences be if I make this choice the way they say I can?”

One possibility is that there won’t be any negative consequences at all—not from the speaker, at least. This is the normal, healthy, respectful way human beings can interact with each other without manipulation and subtext.

If the person really loves and respects and cares for us, if they really want what’s best for us, they’ll still respect us just as much even if we make a choice they might not choose for us to make. They’ll understand that us making our own choice and following it through is at least as important, maybe more so, than the decision itself. They want us to make our own decisions because that’s what’s best for us and our lives.

If the person says, “The choice is yours,” and means it sincerely, then the choice really is ours and they won’t visit us with vindictive payback if we go through with it. They honor our right to make our own choices and to deal with the results. That’s the honorable, loving, respectful way for people to treat each other.

The alternative is that the person WILL visit us with devastating consequences if we make our own choice instead of doing what they want us to do. Chances are astronomical that they’ve made it clear beforehand precisely what they want us to do. Most times, just making our own choice independent of their wishes can have horrendous repercussions. They make certain of it.

When these people say, “The choice is yours,” they really mean they’re going to destroy us if we don’t do what they want or if we do what they don’t want. If we dare to act independently, they will shun us. They will smear us. They will crush us in every possible way. They will withdraw approval and they will ensure that no one else approves of us, either. They will use their influence to make sure that the rest of the world turns against us, too.

They will do all that and a whole lot more if we dare to think for ourselves or have the audacity to make our own decisions. That is the worst, most unforgivable sin.

They hold all these consequences over our head as a weapon to threaten us not to step out of line. They blackmail us into complying with their wishes. They tell us, either verbally or nonverbally, that we are stupid and worthless and downright evil for even thinking about acting on our own.

They visit consequences on us that make sure we suffer the absolute worst aftereffects possible to prove that their dire predictions of our failure come true.

No one has to articulate this threat to us in words. We grasp it at a visceral level. We have it proved to us time and again because we experience a danger response the very instant those words come out of the person’s mouth. 

Our chests tighten. Our breathing quickens and becomes shallow. We tense to protect ourselves. We wouldn’t react like that if we weren’t really under threat and we are. Our bodies, our hearts, and our guts know better. We just have to trust ourselves enough to listen and to act accordingly. 

Thank you for reading today. I hope this helps someone out there. If you need help right now, leave me a comment or click the chatbot button at the bottom of the screen. We’ll get started solving your toughest problems so you can live a better quality of life. You don’t have to do this alone anymore.