Taking responsibility for my life (instead of pointing fingers or waiting for things to happen) is something I’ve been thinking about lately, especially during the last week. In some ways, I am a go-getter, but I also hold myself back from pursuing – or even figuring out – what it is I want. I think part of that is the subconscious hope or expectation that your life isn’t really your responsibility. Which sounds so wrong when I actually write it down. Of course, there are always circumstances that are out of our control – c’est la vie. But how you take responsibility for yourself and how you handle things… that’s entirely up to you. With this realization, I’m keeping three things in mind. If you’re looking for some tips on how to take responsibility for your life, I hope they help you out, too.
Nobody owns you
Your life is your own. That means your thoughts and body are not owned by anyone else. So stop looking for validation from other people. (Try keeping a close eye on what goes through your mind, as you might be doing that a lot more often than you realize.) Any time you seek permission or validation to be who you are means that you’re giving away your power. You’re letting other people/society decide what you can and can’t do and what you can and can’t think or eat or enjoy or pursue. You are not owned by society, your parents, your peers, your teachers, or your partner.
We grow up relying on other people to teach us what’s right and wrong, and those ideas continue to govern our lives long after we enter adulthood. Remember that it’s important to question things and deviate from the norm. I don’t mean to discredit adults who do their best to bring young’uns up, but question everything you’ve been told. There are things that you might still agree with, but you’ll also find things that don’t make sense to you. Don’t fear change. You can even change your mind and change it back. Ultimately, nobody really owns you or your thoughts. That’s where your real power is. Keep reminding yourself of that until it sticks.
Go for it
We – especially women – are taught that if you’re “good enough” then people will inevitably notice and everything will fall into place. There is definitely power in being gracious, positive, and intentional. But nothing you want will be spontaneously handed to you. Thinking that things will just happen to us often prevents us from achieving all that we can. We learn to expect people to read our minds instead of being proactive, and communicating clearly what it is that we want. There is something to be said about actively going after what you want once you figure out what that is. In the real world, Prince Charming and Fairy Godmothers don’t exist. But miracles can happen if you dream it, ask the universe (and, you know, your boss) for it, and put the hard work in.
Here’s the thing: It’s scary to take full responsibility for your own life. We’re scared of feeling empowered because sometimes, it’s just easier to stay small. I think this quote is really thought-provoking, and sums up this very human fear:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. – Marianne Williamson
You can read the rest of this excerpt here. Staying is the dark is often easier because it’s what you’re used to. It’s far more comfortable. But we all have limitless potential to be the best version of ourselves, to be good and do good. Something that inspires me regularly is a piece of advice that Adriene shared in one of her yoga videos. These words were passed down from her mother to her: “The Universe is for you, not against you.” Whenever you have any doubt, know that you were put on this earth for a reason, and the universe isn’t out to get you. That might sound like a load of mumbo-jumbo to you, but why not believe in that? What we believe in becomes our entire life. How you see the world is ultimately your choice. Believe that the world is for you, not against you, and that will keep you going in inevitably tough times.
Have you started taking more responsibility for your own life? I’d love to hear about what your experience has been, or how you came to realize that you needed to. Feel free to share any tips or nuggets of wisdom in the comments below.