Repeat after me: I am responsible for my own life. This might be the most important thing you’ll ever learn in your life time. It will open you up to amazing change, allow you to heal from your past, and empower you to take action.
In one of the most life-changing books I’ve ever read by Steven Covey, 7 Habits of Effective People, I learned that people who take responsibility for their lives are proactive people rather than reactive and blaming of the conditions and people around them. These people choose not to give up their power to their environment or allow it to control them. The book was written over twenty years ago but the words still ring true to me today.
It takes years to master letting things go to a point where you don’t react but instead are proactively creating your reality. Rather than react to things and feel powerless to change them, with time and a lot of self-work I’ve learned to take responsibility for my own decisions and life, even when it goes wrong.
Negative situations can make a person defensive. In a similar way, too much dependance on others’ opinions and actions can take away your personal power and place you in a position of perpetual waiting. Being proactive on the other hand allows you to anticipate and act before something bad (or good) happens.
Oprah Winfrey once said that she uses a five step approach to taking responsibility for her life:
- See the moment for what it really is.
- Accept what is.
- Forgive the past.
- Accept responsibility.
- Move forward with your life.
It’s clear that forgiveness plays a role in this process. By far the shift of going from feeling like a victim to taking responsibility is not just one of the most difficult things you’ll do in your life, but its also the most empowering. Often when we go through difficult and challenging experiences, these are the moments when we grow and learn. So, always ask yourself: What did I learn from this? Even if it’s hard to do.
To take deliberate actions and create the circumstances you desire rather than waiting for things to happen. So, the next time you’re in a situation where you’re feeling reactive and attacked, ask yourself these three powerful questions:
Can I take direct action to change this?
Can I influence this indirectly?
Do I have any control over this?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s time to take action. If the answer is no, it’s time to let it go and focus on what you can change and influence. Leave everything else behind.
After self-inquiry, the next step involves making a list of the actions you can take to influence or change it the situation. Taking responsibility can be one of the most powerful actions you’ll ever take in a situation where you feel powerless. It allows you to refocus your energy on the now and stop wasting time on the past. As spiritual leader and author Michael Beckwith says, there are levels to growing spiritually, and taking responsibility is one of the first steps to doing just that. We can spend years believing that we have no power over the things that are happening in our life and that they are happening TO us. When we shift our thinking, we move to a place where we know that not only are we able to affect change in our life, but eventually we can come to know and believe that things are happening THROUGH us for a purpose.
So, as you question the tough moments in your life, ask yourself whether there is any action you could take, or influence you can have in that space. Do the work necessary to learn to know the difference between thoughtful action and defensive reaction. As you shift your way of thinking, so will your circumstances.
Copyright Authentic World Inc 2020, Michelle Thompson 2020
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Michelle. I’m a postgraduate qualified professional with over twenty years of experience as a group facilitator and public educator. I’ve helped thousands of people re-imagine their lives and create concrete plans for self-improvement. I’ve facilitated dozens of workshops and support groups on topics like stress management, mental health and wellness, goal setting, grief counselling, safety planning, and confidence building. I’m a former social worker and crisis services coordinator, and after working for eight years as a non-profit consultant, I felt a strong desire to return to helping people. I created Authentic World Inc, an international life coaching company that offers one-on-one support and self-directed courses on personal development topics. I also teach philosophy part time at Carleton University in Canada’s national capital. In my coaching approach, I consider the teachings of the modern philosophers of our time and use a holistic method for teaching you how to become more compassionate towards yourself and improve the quality of your life in the process.
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