Prepare your mind to receive the best that life has to offer. – Ernest Holmes
At times, it can feel like our life is spinning out of control. When this happens, we begin to believe we are completely powerless to the circumstances that dictate and shape our lives. There is no question our lives can be overwhelming and seemingly chaotic from time-to-time.
The good news, though, is we do have the power to reclaim and create the life we want. If we choose to learn the following and apply the powerful lessons found in each, then we can begin to take back control of our life:
- Be Selfish
- Say No
- Step Away
- No More Excuses
- Look Forward – Not Back
Contrary to popular belief, it’s okay to be selfish – as long as it is done in moderation. After all, the only way we can be a positive influence in the lives of others is if we first become a positive influence in our own.
By becoming more selfish, we force ourselves into a position where we consider what will make us a better person. By default, this will usually have a positive effect on the people around us.
There are many productive ways to practice being selfish. The first, and most important way, is simply to begin taking care of you. Watch what you eat and try to exercise when you can. Be aware of your bad habits and negative thinking and replace these things with positive choices and thoughts. Make time during the day to take care of you.
There is a significant correlation between how you feel about yourself and you feel about life. Depression and a sense of dread can begin to seep into your thoughts and attitudes when you don’t take the time you need. Recognize these feelings when you become aware you are not doing what you could to take better care of yourself.
Be selfish. Do things that are good for you and will lead to feeling better about yourself and your life. Refrain from cutting corners. Purposeful selfishness will give you the confidence and momentum necessary to begin regaining control of your life.
Most people who feel powerless in their life have done so willingly because they haven’t learned the art of saying “No.”
Resolve yourself to the fact that it’s impossible for you to make everyone happy, and start to consider the ramifications of saying “Yes,” to everyone. Once you learn how to tell people “No,” you will find you will not only have more time to put back in your life, but you will also experience less anxiety about the need to live up to the expectations you allow others to place on you.
When you try to be all things to all people you may become nothing for yourself.
Leading a life of happiness is about making choices and setting boundaries. You do have the ability to control whether or not you make time for yourself. The habit of saying “Yes,” usually stems from the fact you may feel uncomfortable with saying “No,” and you may be unable to define clear boundaries for yourself.
In other words, the need to please others is greater than the need to take care of yourself. The truth is you will never truly please others because you will never be able to define, or achieve, what it is they want you to do. This leads to a sense of hopelessness, failure and a lack of control over your own life.
Begin today by setting some healthy and realistic boundaries for yourself. You do control the pace and quality of your own life. When you need to take a timeout to take care of yourself, you have the right and responsibility to say “No,” and begin to take back some power in your life.
The best way to regain control of your life is to step away and really look at your life for what it is. Take a day, or even a weekend if possible, and step outside of the normal things that happen day-to-day.
By giving yourself the opportunity to take a full step back will provide the time and space to look at things from a different perspective. As a result, you will have a better chance to see the obstacle and the things that need to be addressed in order to help you regain complete control of your life.
Coping with the complexity of life may find us straining to find the energy just to make it through each day. Illness or family problems may cause additional stress. We may feel a creeping sense of weariness with life, a sense that life is just too hard and not much fun. Even though we desire it, we’re not sure our lives fit into a meaningful pattern.
If you are contemplating the meaning or purpose of your life, take the time to step away and complete a full inventory of your life. Carefully consider and answer the following statements (do you agree or disagree?). They are intended to evaluate your progress and inspire further progress in the realization of your life purpose and to help you regain control:
- I often try to ignore the unresolved issues in my life.
- I take seriously the dreams and passions for my life.
- The world doesn’t offer me much hope for a better life.
- I only occasionally take time to truly let loose and play.
- I frequently see the silver lining in the setbacks in my life.
- Most of my energy goes into making it through each day.
- I find it easy to bask in the magic of the present moment.
- I experience myself as connected to the ebb and flow of life.
- My talents are essential for helping me get what I want in life.
- I’m not inclined to make major changes in the direction of my life.
- When conflicts arise, I can usually see from the other’s perspective.
- I sometimes get an inner sense I’m supposed to meet certain people.
- I frequently feel the need to protect myself from the demands of the world.
- I have some regular activities which further my growth in body, mind and spirit.
For the statements that are working for you, make certain you continue to make these a priority in your life. For the statements that are not working, consider what resources (time, money, and other people) you would need in order to turn these around. Focus on one at a time.
You don’t have to eat the elephant all in one bite. Just do what you can, when you can; but begin by taking action today. Once you take action, a newfound sense of control, power and self-confidence will develop thereby giving you the ability to devote more energy to changing what’s important to you. Don’t delay. Begin today, right now.
No More Excuses
If you find yourself in a position where you have lost control of your life then it’s easy to start making excuses as to why or how it happened. What’s equally easy is to begin to assign blame for how things turned out in your life.
Resolve not to make excuses for why things have happened this way and refuse to pass blame. It’s not worth wasting valuable energy on things that ultimately don’t matter. Instead use that energy to make things better.
In most circumstances, we are responsible for the state and quality of our lives. We, you and I, are responsible for the choices we make and the resulting consequences. The gift of Free Will can be both a blessing and a curse.
Free Will allows us to live the life of our choosing and liking. We are given the opportunity to select our friends and life partner; we get to decide what we want to do and where we want to do it. Free Will is a blank check for which we are allowed to write in any amount we would like.
Free Will also makes us accountable and responsible. Because we are given the autonomy to make whatever choices we see fit, the outcome of these choices belongs to us, too.
When our relationships fail or when our careers get off track, we must take a hard look at what we did to contribute to these circumstances. Typically when things go bad, there’s always “the rest of the story.” Meaning, it’s not just because our boss is overly demanding, the rest of story as to why our career is off track is because of an action we did, or didn’t, do.
The bottom line is to stop making excuses and begin to put energy into doing what can be done to take back control of your life. Assigning blame is useless and requires too much energy.
Making the decision to move forward and to take full responsibility for your actions does free you and inspires you to live with passion and confidence. It’s easy to say that something or someone is keeping you from doing whatever it is you want to do; but it’s courageous to be the owner of your life.
Look Forward – Not Back
When things are at their worst, it’s easy to look back to try to figure out exactly where things went wrong and then analyze the many different ways you could have changed it back then. Stop.
By constantly looking in the past, you’re not focusing on the future, on the here and now, and this is an important step when it comes to regaining power and control in your life.
Constantly look forward to the changes you plan to make and the effects those changes will have. To help you in the task of looking forward, create a timeline or a set of defined goals to help keep you focused on the future – not on the past.
This timeline or set of goals does not have to be too complex. Its intent is to provide you with a roadmap of how to get from where you are now, to where you want to go in the future. On this timeline, it can list the day when you may want to start a diet and exercise program. You can state when you want to take a class at the local community college or meet with a professional resume writer. The idea is to list as many things as you can that will help you move your life forward, not back.
The power of the written word is remarkable. Written goals seem to have more teeth than spoken goals. In other words, rather than talking about how you plan to regain control of your life, write it down instead.
Once written, these goals will provide you with more accountability and inspiration. In essence, you are creating a blueprint to follow. Reviewing this blueprint on a daily basis will help you see the progress you are making. Feel free to check things off once accomplished – this action will give you even greater confidence and momentum.
A word of caution: Your goals, like your life, are dynamic. If you need to change or alter your goals because of some unforeseen or uncontrollable situation, then give yourself the latitude and grace to do so without self-condemnation.
Think of your goals as the ingredients to create the recipe for the life you want to create. If you need to make adjustment along the way, that’s okay. The end result is what you make with what you have been given. By looking forward and having a plan, you are in a better position to get what you want.