If you want your life to be better, the reality is that you can change only one person’s approach to life – YOURS!
If you have stopped working hard at understanding and taking care of yourself in favor of pleasing, changing, or controlling others, avoiding failure, or focusing on how miserable your life is, you may have lost sight of the fact that you DO have choices in and responsibility for your own life. In fact, that’s both the good and the (somewhat) bad news: you have COMPLETE responsibility for your choices, your behaviors, and facing what is in your life. It doesn’t matter if life hasn’t cooperated with you, that some consequences were harsher than you expected, that your intention was misunderstood, that there have been situations that overwhelmed you (or, like most of us, you don’t think you deserve the bad things that have happened in your life). You still are the only one who can take charge of how you move along your path.
What does that mean? Essentially, it means that while we can impact what is not us, we cannot control anything but our response to what happens around us. We have control, instead, over how we expend our energy and what we choose. We can gather information and act in a way that serves the bigger picture, if we are willing to pay attention rather than get defensive, react, or hurry to resolve things. (Keeping in mind, of course, that not making a decision is in itself a decision.)
Look at the outcomes of past behavior and, if appropriate, find a different way. The good news is that if you make mistakes along the way (which all of us do), you can make different choices. You have to be willing to fail and to learn from and understand what happened and why. If you never fail, you have stopped growing. In fact, you know that you are still growing if you continue to risk instead of letting fear of failure hold you back. When we buy into the idea that we should only have positive or safe experiences, we are fighting against what life is, and how rich it can be.
What About What Others Think?
There will be a multitude of others who will be very willing to lead you to suit their needs. However, you want to keep in mind that giving others the power to determine your life path puts the results of your life in their hands. It’s much better to be discriminating in your choices, rather than following someone else’s advice or demands. Since you’re in charge, you want to take the time to evaluate all the information coming your way and then make your own decisions.
We cannot expect others to feel what we feel or to make things better for us. In fact, most people are too busy in their own lives to show much empathy for what’s going on in our lives. Sometimes we may feel rejected and deeply wounded by the indifference of others. But rather than taking this personally, we can make a decision to be compassionate about others’ inability to understand or forgive, even if they lack compassion. We can be compassionate with ourselves and understand that imperfection and loss are a part of the human condition. Regardless of what happens outside of us, or how much it hurts, we are capable of loving and caring for ourselves and for others.
This is a much more effective, self-empowering approach than hoping someone else will figure out their lives so you can stop worrying, be treated better, or prove to them that you are worthwhile. Listen to yourself, and if someone rejects your best efforts, accept their experience and take care of yourself.
Creating Best Outcomes
After you recognize when circumstances are beyond your control, change your question to, “What can I do about this particular situation to create the best outcome?” If you try something that doesn’t move you in the right direction or if you make a mistake, try something else. Succeed and fail, learn from your failures and move toward your strengths. Everything in life teaches us.
Think about life and begin to “act” as if you believe in your ability to be in your moments. Show a responsible, confident, and positive being to the world and see what happens. It will get more comfortable as you keep practicing, and doubt and fear will subside. If you feel like it’s time to make a change, start with self-connection and self- compassion. Start taking responsibility for your life by being kind to yourself.