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When You Realize You Have Complete Responsibility For Your Life, You Become Completely Free

When You Realize You Have Complete Responsibility For Your Life, You Become Completely Free

You are in your apartment on a Saturday morning, snuggled under the covers. No one is going to tell you to get up. You don’t have to ask your parents’ permission to sleep until noon. Whether you choose to stay nestled under the blankets or throw back the covers and start your day, you are responsible for your own life. When you realize you no longer have to ask anyone’s permission to live and the decisions are now yours to make, you become completely free. Free to stay in bed all day. Free to get up and follow your dreams. You are also free to make mistakes, learn from failures and accept the consequences of your actions.

Release yourself from the blame game

Taking responsibility for your life means that you need to stop playing the blame game. It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming: blaming the current government for the lack of money in your paycheck, blaming cold tennis balls for a poorly played tennis match, or blaming red lights for your late arrival at work. The time has come to accept responsibility for your actions. Do you need to practice tennis more? Leave earlier for work or take another route? And as for your paycheck, the tax system was established long before the current presidency. Maybe it’s time to look into whether claiming allowances for dependents could reduce the amount of taxes taken from your pay. Maybe you need to ask for a raise or even change your job.

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By ascribing your faults to others, you are handing over control of your life. The only thing blaming others achieves is to make you feel powerless, a victim of circumstance.

Rescue yourself from the trap of the victim mentality. It will never serve you well in the long run. Do you want to be that person tied to the train tracks, waiting for a hero to swoop to your rescue, or would you rather pop out your handy Swiss Army knife, cut the ropes and defeat the villain yourself? Heroes always have more fun, and they reap the rewards in the end.

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Also, realize that there are things that are beyond your personal control, such as a snow storm or the outcome of the presidential elections. However, you do have power over how you react to those situations. To paraphrase the words of Charles R. Swindol: Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it. The next time you begin to place the blame elsewhere, stop and think. Shoulder your responsibility. Like lifting weights, doing this will make you stronger.

Build your self-esteem

Becoming responsible for your life and your choices builds self-confidence. It pushes you out of your comfort zone. You are no longer the victim, tossed around by someone else’s whims. As Steve Jobs said, “Stop living someone else’s dream and start living your own.”  When you have taken charge of your life, you have the ability to chart your own course. Owning your destiny is a heady, powerful feeling.

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Beware the fear-monger

Be aware of the nay-sayer inside of you. Everyone has one: that voice that tells you to be afraid of stuff. “Don’t jump off the high-dive,” the voice says, “it’s too scary; don’t ask that girl out, she’ll probably laugh at you; don’t send in that manuscript, it’s not good enough.” It’s an evil little voice that dwells in the negative zone. It wants you to be afraid of rejection and paralyzed by fear. It is afraid of letting you take control. Don’t listen to the fear-monger inside. Once you gain more confidence, those negative thoughts tend to shrink and the sway of the nay-sayer within diminishes.

Become the captain of your life

Once you understand that you can be free when you take complete responsibility for your life, you will unlock the shackles that have been preventing you from doing things you may have never even imagined. You have control. Total control. You are the captain of your life, and you can steer it in any direction you choose. You can even decide to drop the anchor and not go anywhere at all. Ditch the blame game and choose not to be the victim. Accept that failure can happen. Everyone makes mistakes. Face the consequences and move forward. Dare to dream, and make those dreams come true. Be the hero of your own life.

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Featured photo credit: Jill Wellington via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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