WHO IS IN CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE?
By Betty Hughes, Ph.D., LMHC
Are you feeling powerless? Overwhelmed? When you find yourself in the middle of chaos, ask yourself "Who is in charge here?" Of course the answer is that you are in charge. But are you sure? Consider the following as a way of looking at things from a different perspective.
If you were in charge, how would you be feeling now? Think about it. Take a moment to do some self-talk and this time really listen to yourself. Are you blaming anyone or anything? If so, then you are giving them the power to impact how you feel. Are you telling yourself that you could be happy if only you could find a better job, make more money, or meet your ideal partner? Those things are nice to have, but they can never be enough and they are ultimately outside your control. If you were in charge, you could find ways to feel better with or without those things.
Some people believe they are victims of their circumstances and therefore they are not able to take charge. Yet, didn’t they make each decision for every step of the way that got them into their predicament? There may be exceptions of course. Children, for example, have little power over what happens to them. Indeed even later, adults may have to cope with what happened to them when they were young. Still, once we are adults we can take charge, at least to some degree. We can always decide what to do next.
Most people want to feel in control, because it makes them feel better. However, controlling outside circumstances may not be possible and that can feel even worse. Being in control of your perspective about outside circumstances is possible. Some things to try:
- Write in a journal. Have a full conversation with yourself about anything that comes to mind. Get it all out on paper. At first write everything down, even things that don’t seem related. Write until you feel you have emptied the turmoil. Later you can sort and make priorities.
- Take full responsibility for your life. Even if you did not “cause” your circumstances, it is still your life. You get to decide about the next step. No one else can know what you need. It is up to you to make your decisions and to take actions required.
- Ask for help. This sounds contradictory but it is not. When you ask for help, you are the one who decides who to ask, what to ask for, and whether to take the advice. Experts in the field of what you need can provide ideas that you might never consider on your own. At the same time, keep your sense of responsibility. Even if the advice is good, the timing may be off. Only you can make those decisions.
- Gather information. Ask questions. Ponder the options.
- Take a break. Decide how much of a break you need in order to get a new perspective.
- Take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. At the least, begin to take care of some part of you and promise to do more as soon as you can fit it in.
- Take action. Sometimes even small actions can begin the clearing process. In the midst of feeling overwhelmed, so many things are swirling that decisive action needs to be limited until you can think more clearly. Yet without some action the swirling continues. So consider writing everything down as an action. Then consider the act of changing your perspective as an action. One small step at a time will slowly clear the way to getting back in charge of your life.
Being in charge of your life does not mean you do everything right or that you are in control of outside circumstances. It is simply the viewpoint that you are the one who gets to make your choices.
Acknowledging that you are in charge is a way to take back your power. When you believe in your own personal power to make changes in your life, then you feel strong enough to do so. You then become the person in charge of managing your stress, managing your time, even imagining a future that is better because of the steps you will take.
Take back your power. Become the person in charge of all things that relate to you. You are wiser than you know. Trust your inner guidance to lead you one small step at a time to the place of living a conscious, responsible life of freedom to be who you really are. After all, it is your life. Begin to love it.