If I had one piece of advice for people perpetually miserable with the current state of their life it would be to stop blaming others for it.
We all landed on this planet endowed with the greatest gift possible – the gift of thought – and contained within that jewel lay a diamond encrusted and gold wrapped treasure – the remarkable power of choice.
As we grew and developed from infancy to adulthood, our awareness, understanding and selection of this all-powerful gift became the architect shaping, the blueprint for how our lives would unfold.
Regardless of our level of comprehension of this magnificent ability we were given, our use of this power has played a central role in bringing us to where we are today.
We’re All Self Made
We are all self-made people, to the degree that we have made choices that have led to decisions, actions and results in our lives that have sculpted the life we are living at this moment.
If this is so, then why don’t we “get it?” By that I mean, we don’t see to grasp that we have choice over what we do, yet we act so often as if there is no choice. We act as if the things we do and the situations we find ourselves in are completely outside of our control. Why is that?
How many times have I heard clients tell me stories that include the following:
“I hate my job, but I can’t quit. I have no Plan B.”
“I can’t stand family holidays. But I can’t stop going. My mother would never let me hear the end of it.”
“I wish I could just pack it all in and become a surf instructor/ preschool teacher/ professional rodeo clown but obviously I can’t. What would everyone think?”
All of these people act like they are the victim of fate’s grim verdict, when nothing could be further from the truth. They made the choices that brought them to their unhappy current circumstances, and they also have the ability to make choices to free themselves.
I’m no expert in psychology, but I’ve seen this play out a lot and here’s what I think.
If we accept the role our own choices play in the results of our life, we also have to accept responsibility for those choices. This means we can no longer place blame for our circumstances on elements outside of ourselves. We are forced to acknowledge that we got to where we are today through our own choices.
If we can’t blame others, or fate, or plain bad luck for where we are, we can’t be victims. If we can’t be victims, we have to assume ownership of the state of our lives. If we have to assume ownership, we also assume personal responsibility for where we are today and where we will be tomorrow.
Where We Go Is Up To Us
I don’t want to discount the fact that some people are born into an easier life than others. Certainly that’s true. I’m also not suggesting every person has the same ability to overcome their own circumstances and rise to the same challenges, despite the hurdles they face.
Rather, I’m just saying that whatever circumstances each of us finds ourself in, where we go from there is up to us.
This really sucks. I feel this as keenly as anyone.
Over my lifetime I have done more dumb things than anyone I know. In fact, I’m working on my second book, and I’m sure it will become the greatest self-help book of all time. It’s titled “Look at what I did, and DON’T DO IT!”
I so badly want to blame someone else for all my bad decisions, stupid mistakes and really bad ideas but, alas, I can’t.
I have to own it.
Here’s the Good News
But here’s the good news. Now that we know that the choices we have made have led to the lives that we have, if we want our lives to be different, we need only explore all of our choices, and start making choices that will lead us to the lives we want.
This is true, even if that means we have to do things in the short term that are uncomfortable or cause us pain. If we have to quit the job we hate. If we have to tell our family we’ve chosen boundaries that make them unhappy but give us peace. If we leave the accounting firm behind, and enroll in Rodeo Clown College .
Choice, the power is extraordinary.
Use it wisely.
Till we read again.