Everybody changes in life. You can’t live your life without changing over time, because it’s a natural byproduct of life itself. A 1,000 year-old redwood tree doesn’t look or work much at all like a young sapling.
So that leaves you with a choice. Would you rather be the agent of your own change, or just an unwilling victim of it?
I suspect most people don’t look at life this way. They just merrily stumble along in their lives, unaware that they actually have a lot more control about things than they realize.
Sure, we’re all a product of our upbringing, our horrible (or great) parents, and our genetics. But despite all those things, everyone still has free will and the ability to exercise it whenever and however they would like. Once you’re an adult, continuing to lay blame and avoid responsibility for your choices means that you are relegating yourself to something odd — having your life determined by something other than yourself.
I know I don’t like the idea that my life is outside of my own control.
Which is good, because that is an illusion. Our lives are 100% completely within our own control. The choices we make, the hard decisions we come to, these are things within our power and our responsibility.
So Many Reasons (Excuses)
We delegate way too much control — and responsibility — for how our lives are turning out to others. We blame other people, other things, other situations — anything just as long as we don’t have to accept the responsibility for making the best out of a bad situation.
- “My parents couldn’t afford the school I wanted to go to, so that’s why I’m doing so badly at college.”
- “My partner doesn’t support my career choices, that’s why I’m in a dead-end job.”
- “My parents never loved me, that’s why I have such a hard time with trust.”
- “He didn’t want to have kids, that’s why I’m so lonely now in our relationship.”
- “I never knew half the things I could do because my parents never showed me.”
- “My boss hates me, I’ll never get to where I want to be in my career.”
- “My siblings never helped me, that’s why I didn’t get the support I needed in my family.”
- “I was an only child, so I never learned how to get along with others or do things for myself.”
Do You Want to be a Victim of Change?
But blame will only get you so far in life. If you spend so much of your energy and time blaming others, you’re not focused on change and making that change happen.
Remember, change happens whether you’re paying attention or not. But if you’re paying attention (and actually expend some effort), you can work to make the change in your life benefit you for the best.
It’s like this:
- Change happens in your life, whether you want it to or not.
- You can either be a hapless victim of it, letting it direct where you go in your life.
- Or you can be the controlling agent of it, molding change to your needs and your will.
Which would you rather be?
Getting Unstuck: Take Back Control… And Responsibility
Taking back control of the change that occurs in your life means also taking responsibility for your decisions. Rather than relying on others to make decisions for you (or be the pawn in other people’s decisions), it means taking a proactive stance to make the decisions that will impact your life. You cannot just stand still and hope life takes care of you. It won’t.
That means figuring out what your needs are right now, in the moment, and in the near-term future. Do you need to get out of a messy relationship or a horrible roommate situation? Then maybe you need a job (or a new job), to make that happen. Figure out the pieces needed for you to get to that goal.
“But it’s really hard and I’m not sure I can change!” I hear you. Most of us have been there. And you know what helps (outside of the bended ear of a friend)? Psychotherapy. A therapist can help you make these changes in your life, some of which will not be easy. People are complex. Their situations are complex. And sometimes we all just need a little help to understand how to move forward, how to become unstuck in our lives, and get to the next stage in our development.
Change is hard, even when you want to take on the directorial role of your own change. It means examining your own thoughts and behaviors, and figuring out new thoughts and behaviors that are going to help you get to your goals. It means learning to stop bad habits, unhelpful ways of thinking, and all the other behaviors that are sabotaging those efforts.
And more often than not, it means taking one step forward and two steps back. It means learning to live with some frustration and compromise, since not everything may be achievable (at least not in the moment). It means learning to live life not only to its fullest, but also to recognize when sometimes life is just going to suck for awhile, and you’ll have to do the best you can with what you have.
If you want to be the agent of your own change, you got this! You can do it. But you need to take those first steps today, because time waits for no person. And wouldn’t you rather be that better you sooner rather than later? Good luck.