By Linda Adams, President of GTI
“There’s nothing I can do.”
“It’s up to him/her.”
“I had a dysfunctional childhood.”
“I never get a break.”
“I can’t do that because…”
“I’m so unlucky.”
Many of us live as though someone or something outside of ourselves controls our lives. Whether it be other people, our parents, background, age, sex, race, fear, fate or God, we behave as if we are not active agents who are responsible for ourselves. We wait. We wait for something to happen or someone to come along to fulfill our needs or to make our lives better. But as the self-esteem author, Nathaniel Branden expressed it so aptly, “No one is coming.”
A far more effective and positive way of looking at life is to take the view that you are responsible for yourself, your choices, your actions. It is up to you to create your own opportunities and take the initiative for getting what you want out of life. Instead of looking outside yourself for answers, you exercise your personal area of freedom to make decisions and take actions that don’t depend on the approval or consent of other people. What you think, appreciate, value, believe, where you work, the friends you have, how you spend your free time, whether and how much you exercise, what you eat and drink.
There are many other situations in which what you need or want involves the cooperation or participation of another person/s. You have relationships with other people–at home, at work and elsewhere in which both your needs and theirs are important. The decisions and actions you choose are not totally within your area of freedom, i.e., taking time off from your job, deciding how to spend the family budget, deciding which laws you’ll obey, etc.)
Your personal area of freedom varies from one relationship to another. You probably have a different area of freedom in each of your relationships–with your spouse or partner, your children, your parents, your friends, your boss. And granted, there are realistic limits that keep us from having total control of our lives. Still most of us can probably assume much more personal responsibility for meeting our needs and wants–and living our own lives–than we do now.
This requires the willingness to be open to change, to new ideas and experiences, different values and beliefs. It requires inquisitiveness: What does that mean? How does that work? Why? Is there a better way to do this? How do I feel? What’s important to me? Am I letting fear get in my way of exploring a new path, new idea?
Taking more personal responsibility for your life and your relationships also requires skills–active awareness, self-disclosure, empathic listening, conflict resolution, anxiety reduction, goal setting and planning.
How do you cultivate more of this attitude and learn these skills? It’s in the Be Your Best course, an updated version of the Effectiveness Training for Women/Effectiveness Training course and it’s coming soon.
For more information on teaching or participating in Be Your Best, please contact us by phone at 800.628.1197 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.