Is life really meant to be this hard?
This was the question I asked myself over and over during a really tough time about twelve months ago. It seemed as though anything that could go wrong, did and I had no idea what to do to make it better. If you are struggling to see how you can make life better for yourself, read on to see what I learned back then.
Life had ground down to such a hard slog that I found myself sinking lower and lower, getting more stressed and depressed by the day. I played the blame game; you might know how that goes – you find someone or something to blame for everything that’s going wrong in your life, making yourself more miserable in the process.
It was a rather harsh conversation I found myself having with a neighbor’s son that made me realize where I was going wrong. It was like an epiphany; it hit me square between the eyes. You see, this kid continually crossed my front grass and garden as a short-cut to get to his house; no matter how many times I asked him not to, he just continued on. The lawn was starting to track and the garden bed had flattened plants. This particular day, I kind of lost it with him and heard myself saying “you have to take responsibility for your actions and accept what you’re doing is not right.”
Well, it was the “take responsibility” bit that was my epiphany. I realized that I was blaming everything and everyone for the way my life was going, when the only person I should have been blaming was me; myself; I. So, the message in this article about how to make life better is to take full responsibility for it.
Where you are in life, right now, is the direct result of the choices you’ve made up to this time. I know; that can be a tough thing to accept, but it’s true. Sure, there may have been some things happen that were beyond your control, but it’s the choices we make and the way we deal with the challenges that come up in life, that create the life we find ourselves leading.
Of course, if you accept this, it is easy then to beat yourself up over the way your life has turned out, to have one big pity-party, but the blame game never achieves anything good, even if you are the one to blame. So, it’s not a matter of blaming yourself for poor choices and reactions in the past, it’s a matter of taking responsibility for your life as of now and moving forward. Analyzing the past can only get you so far; taking a stand in the present and making better choices in the future is what will turn your life around.
Every situation that presents itself in life, every corner your life turns, represents a choice that has to be made. J.K.Rowling has said “it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” You can learn, research and ask questions about an issue but, at the end of the day, it is you who has to decide what action to take. You are in control of what you decide to do; you are responsible for the consequences.
Once you realize that you are the one in control, you can move forward with the life that you want. You will no longer be so strongly influenced by other people’s opinions. You will stop allowing outside forces to control your destiny. You are at the wheel of your life and you are steering the ship. At least when you steer onto the rocks of life, you will know how you got there and be better able to work out how to correct the situation. Your life is made up of your choices, your thoughts, your actions; how exciting is that!
The job of living the life you want requires hard work; there’s no time for slacking. There are no shortcuts to the life you want to live. You have all the tools you need to make that life, even if some of them are a little rusty. When you accept the responsibility of your life, you will find where these tools have been hiding and you’ll discover how to use them.
My mother was fond of quoting “That which doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger” which is attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche. This was mother’s way of teaching us that challenges and difficulties experienced along the road of life are there to prepare us for the life we want to lead. Problems can be seen either as an opportunity or as a sign that we have failed. Feeling failure can lead to poor choices; seeing opportunities leads to personal growth and the life you want.
Without problems, there would be no solutions, so embrace the problems that life throws at you and take responsibility for finding the solutions. When life is going along smoothly, I think we become lazy and forget the amazing resources we have. Difficulties give us the opportunity to grow as well as to create the life we want to have.
Of course, we all make mistakes. It is important to accept these mistakes, as well as the mistakes of others, and move on. Dwelling on the mistakes we make is counter-productive and keeps them around to impact life again and again. Get over it and move on. You can’t create your better life if you are dwelling on past mistakes, of your own or of others.
Your beliefs and values shape your life and are often the benchmark against which we view the quality of life. Take the time to examine your beliefs and values and make sure they are still a good fit; change them if you need to. As you are creating your life, be true to yourself or you will find that life isn’t satisfying. Have the courage of your convictions and stick to the road you have chosen.
It’s your life; take responsibility for it and lead it in the direction you want to go. Only you can make your life better for yourself, so step forward and “Live the life you have imagined.”
So, what does your ideal life look like and what do you need to do to make it a reality?