“Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing
to be waited for, It is a thing to be acheived.” ~ William Jennings Bryan
Who controls your life? Your boss? Your parents? Your children or spouse? Perhaps you give up control at various times during the day, but take it back for brief moments here and there. If you feel like you’re in complete control of your life, this article probably won’t speak much to you. For myself, at various times in my life I’ve felt like almost everything was beyond my control.
Starting several years ago, I looked at the world around me and for some reason felt as though I had no say in anything that happened to me. The place I lived, the work I did during the day, my evenings, everything seemed to be given up to the whims and fancies of others. I had to live where I was because that’s what my wife wanted. I had to work at my software development job because we needed the money and my options in the area were limited. I had a son, and my evenings were largely dictated by his needs. Every so often I got a minute or two to myself, where I could make my own choices, but most of the time I felt as though I was drifting through life, like a marionette controlled by some puppeteer.
It took me a long while to find the solution, and during that time I fell into a depression. I also started resenting the people I felt were controlling my life. It seemed easier to be angry at others, rather than try to find a solution. The solution I should have looked for was to the question: How do I take back control of my life? It turns out, the solution is simple.
I was always in control.
That realization was extremely profound for me. It gave me hope that I could change things in my life. I alone had that power, and I alone was responsible for my life. Everything I was doing was a choice that I was making. At that time, I was making choices that made me unhappy. I chose to sit by and not argue about where we lived. I chose to stay at a job I hated. I chose to look at the time I spent with my son as a chore, instead of a blessing. To change all of that, I had to start making different choices.
Instead of sitting by and choosing to watch my life unfold, I chose to exercise control over my life. I made my voice heard. I argued and fought for what I wanted, and I reframed my mindset about the things around me. In effect, I chose to be happy, and my actions started to reflect that choice.
Suddenly, I realized it was my choice to argue about where we lived, and make my opinions heard. It turned out that my wife didn’t even realize how I really felt about it. Before, I had given up control by making the choice to give up before even letting others know how I felt. We are now on our way to Pasadena, California. As for my job, I realized that this choice was also mine to make. I made a different choice, and switched into grad school.
In choosing to be in control of my life, I finally realized that everything that was happening was a result of my own choices. I no longer felt powerless, but felt empowered. The choices I make aren’t always easy, but knowing that they are mine to make is very comforting. Even if the options aren’t always the best, if I feel like it’s my choice, that helps me a lot.
If you feel like your life is beyond your control, and that you have no choices to make, these steps should help you get started on the path to taking back control of your life.
Write Down Where You’ve “lost Control”
Take a few moments and just write down all the places in your life where you feel helpless and like someone else is in control. Walk through your day and find those points. Who is in control? Why?
Identify The Choices That You Are Making
Think about those points where you have “lost control.” What choices are you making? At the very least, you are choosing to continue doing those things, or continue to allow others to dictate your time for you. Even at a job, you have a choice about the work you do. If you choose not to show up to work, that would be a choice. If you choose to stay in a bad relationship, that is a choice. If you choose to not speak up about what’s bothering you, that is a choice. Not getting help with your problems is also a choice, one you could change if you wished.
First and foremost, we can’t blame other people for our choices. We can only hold them accountable for their own choices.
Which Choices Could be Different, ANd What are the Consequences?
Of the choices you’re making, which would you like to change? What are the consequences of that choice? Sometimes the consequences are obvious, but don’t assume how people will react to your choice. For example, leaving your job has a consequence – you stop getting paid and have to look for a new way to make money. Telling your partner that you need more help around the house or that you feel taken for granted is more ambiguous. Don’t assume they’ll simply get angry at you and nothing will come of it. The real consequences are that you’ll be speaking your mind, telling the truth, and that you will be heard. If you need some help communicating with your partner, I would recommend reading 5 Tips for Effective Communication In Relationships.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your friends. Get professional help if you need it. Make a choice to change your life where you need to, and then take action.
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Change is difficult, and making different choices is definitely change. If you need some help embracing change, I recommend reading the article 5 Tips For How To Embrace Change. If you’re finding it really difficult to make changes in your life, I recommend reading Get What You Need To Change Your Life, written by our very own Maya.
If you want to change your life, the first thing you have to realize is that you are the one holding all the cards. You are in control of your choices, and so you alone are in control of your life. Choose to exercise that control.