It’s nearly the end of the year and many of us are reflecting, thinking about what we’ve accomplished (or not quite achieved), enjoyed, found challenging and what we want to be different for the coming year.
How has 2019 been for you?
Has it fulfilled you? Brought you joy? Tested you? Surprised you? Saddened you? Blindsided you? Excited you?
Were you successful this year (whatever successful means for you)?
Whatever your responses were to these questions, why do you think that was the case?
Was it because of you; your thoughts, actions and choices? Or do you feel like it was due to someone else and the circumstances you faced?
When things don’t work out as we would like them to, we wonder why. Perhaps we blame others, the weather, the economy, society, bad luck, our education, our financial situation, time or something else external to us. We might make excuses that make us feel better about the situation, or feel like a victim of our circumstance.
This is giving away your personal power, and your ability to choose and create change.
You always have choice
It’s true that we can’t control everything that happens to us but we CAN control how we respond.
We always have choice. We can choose how to think about what has happened, which then creates our feelings. Then, we can choose how we will act as a result, and what we will say (or not say).
Here’s a simple formula, from Jack Canfield, to help you remember this principle.
Outcome = Event + Response
You can’t change the event, but you can change your response to the event, which in turn, will change the outcome. If you don’t like the outcomes you are getting, change your response.
Even in a situation where you feel helpless or stuck, there is choice. If you’re feeling stuck right now, try reframing that thought to “I just haven’t found the way forward yet”.
Our circumstances do not make us, or our lives, our choices do.
When things don’t go as planned
If something hasn’t worked out the way you wanted this year, ask yourself:
How did I create that?
- What did I think that may have contributed to that outcome?
- What choices did I make?
- What did I do or not do? Say or not say?
- What are my beliefs that are related to this situation?
- What can I learn from this?
- What would I do differently next time?
When you consider these questions, know that you are not your thoughts or emotions. You are the thinker of your thoughts and the person experiencing your emotions. They are not your identity. They are not YOU. You don’t have to stay in the thoughts and emotions you are experiencing. Instead, choose to redirect your attention to another thought, which in turn creates another emotion.
Also, it’s really vital to understand the difference between taking responsibility and blaming yourself in a critical way. This isn’t an opportunity to descend into relentless self criticism and punishment. It’s not about “what did I do wrong this time?” but rather “what can I learn from this?”
Another interesting question to consider is:
- What is the benefit I am experiencing in this situation?
Often, even “negative” situations create a benefit for us. For example, holding onto friends who keep betraying you and letting you down may be allowing you to stay safe (even in an undesirable situation) and not have a difficult conversation. It may be protecting you from having to be vulnerable and potentially upset someone. It may be protecting you from having a close look at why you choose to be in unhealthy relationships with others and why you haven’t prioritised your own needs so far.
Here’s another example; perhaps you really need some help, but you don’t ask for it. The benefit here may be that you don’t have to worry about others thinking you are failing, or face your own concerns that you are failing (which you are not!). Maybe you don’t want to rely on others, and feel indebted to them, so you don’t want to engage in any potential exchange of support.
It can feel safe to stay in an undesirable situation. Not fun or fulfilling but safe.
You are the owner of your life
When you take 100% responsibility for your life, you allow yourself to learn and grow and you empower yourself. You grow in self respect.
You might be waiting for permission, a lucky break, for certainty, for fear to go away, or for someone to do it for you. You don’t have to wait for those things. Lovely, if you don’t like something in your life, or you aren’t where you want to be, you have the power to do something different to change things. You can take responsibility for creating different outcomes now.
Of course, being 100% responsible doesn’t mean a perfectly smooth ride to the life of your dreams. There are risks. You’ll hit bumps in the road, experience setbacks and make mistakes. People may judge you or tell you you can’t do it (we can’t control their responses). The path may be different to what we initially anticipated or wanted.
Progress isn’t linear. We go forward and backwards, round and round, all the time choosing our responses to whatever happens. Sometimes, it’s confronting and it might hurt our ego to realise that we have created the less desirable circumstances in our lives, but through that realisation you can move forward towards something better.
You are the owner of your life. You can give yourself permission to take the reins and do what is best for you.
You’re not 100% responsible for others
I want to acknowledge that being 100% responsible for your own life doesn’t lessen the impact or seriousness of what others have done that has impacted you. It’s not saying that you don’t have good reason to feel the way you do about your circumstances. But staying stuck in blame or victimhood gets you nowhere in the longer term.
Are you standing in the way of your own success?
It’s also important to remember that while you are 100% responsible for you and your life, you are not at all responsible for the thoughts, actions and emotions of others (of course, I’m not talking about helping your children learn and shaping their world view).
What will be your response to the events in your life (even if they were some time ago)?
So, take a moment now, to reflect on where you are right now in life.
- What excuses are you using in your life?
- Who are you blaming?
- What are you longing for?
- What are you waiting for?
Are you ready to be 100% responsible for your life?
2020 could be the year you create the reality your heart desires.
If you’d like some support to make this happen, then I’d be so happy to chat with you about what’s possible. Get in touch here to book your 30 min Complimentary Consultation.