A woman walks home to her abusive husband after a hard day’s work; she’s tired, but she can clearly feel the anxiety and fear slowly rising in her body. She’s trying to forget that her hands are shaking. She still holds on to the slim hope that tonight will be different.
A man steps out of his office and lights up a cigarette which he desperately needs to calm down. He dreads his annual review; he knows his boss will, once again, manage to make him feel worthless. He has already crossed out a promotion for this year and wonders whether he will always be a “failure”.
A girl is angry at her parents because they make her life a misery. They have made comments and remarks which attacked her pride and her boundaries, and as always, she feels betrayed. They don’t understand her, they always favored her siblings and she cannot bear this anymore. This evening she will self-harm again; that’s the only thing she can control.
A boy is ashamed because the girl he loves left him. She walked off, she abandoned him and he feels depressed. She was the love of his life; she made her feel like a man, and now she is gone. In the next few months he will close down, cut himself off from friends and family to mourn his loss.
What’s going on here? What is the common thread in the lives of these four people? When reading the extracts above, did they trigger a painful memory? Or did you catch yourself thinking of someone you know who has lived a similar experience?
There is one terrible denominator here, and it is worth highlighting because most people live by the same force, day in, day out, without even being aware of it.
I think you will agree that none of the people above own their own life: their lives are owned by others. On the surface they are here, yet they are already gone. Like dead leaves blown away by the wind, they are constantly shaken and thrown off by what is happening around them and to them.
Where is the power in their lives? Where does it lie? I’ll tell you where it is: anywhere but within them.
Life happens all the time, all around us. Some events please us, some don’t. The way we choose to think and behave dictates the quality of our life. Choice is the point. Notice I said “think” and “behave”, not “react”. Would you have naturally used the latter word? Where is the power when all you do is react?
How many times do you feel angry, irritated or depressed as a result of what someone else did or said? How many people push your buttons? How many people own you? How many people can determine whether you feel good or bad in this moment, depending on what they say or do? How many times do you choose to be a victim of something you clearly know you have no control over?
Because don’t be fooled, if this happens to you (and I would bet it happens almost every day), then you are making this choice. You are choosing to be owned rather than own your own life. All the rest is just a story, and a powerful one. The one you tell yourself over and over and over again. So here’s a question for you to reflect upon.
Where is the power in your life?