I have a conflicted relationship with this quote. The idea that my relative happiness, discontent, anger, frustration and joy are actually up to me, is kind of disconcerting.
I’ve always been a very good blamer, with an eagle eye ready to place fault at the feet of any offending person. The younger ‘me’, would have balked big-time at the idea of owning any piece of the negativity that others sling my way. I would have railed against the idea that somehow I was also responsible for the way I ‘received’ their negativity.
You see, I have always been a rule follower. A list checker-offer. A goal-setting, stay on the path and don’t touch the displays kind of girl. And for all of that rule-following work, I expected that the universe would have my back and not expect crazy things of me.
Crazy things like…having a role in perceiving the things that happen to me. Particularly the bad or tough things.
For if the universe truly had my back, then it would throw me a pity party. It would cozy up with my self-righteous indignation when injured by another party, and it would never expect for me to be an active participant in getting over a wrong done to me by another!
However. I am no longer the younger me, as my body continues to remind me. I have come around to a begrudging agreement with this statement. That life is indeed “10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it’.
In fact, I have evolved to the degree that it’s no longer begrudging agreement. It’s actually an enthusiastic endorsement.
For you see, at long last I understand the power in this perspective. I understand that this is actually the difference between a victim mentality or a perpetual faith and confidence in being able to overcome and manage ANYTHING.
When we let ourselves marinate in the injustice of what others do to us, how others make us feel, how the actions of others are keeping us from doing what we want… we are limiting ourselves to riding the currents created by the actions of others.
It’s when we choose to put our energy into what we do next, that we can see what we are actually made of. When things don’t go our way, we have 2 choices.
- We can wallow in the unfairness of what has happened
- We can acknowledge the impact, and choose to move beyond it
That’s it. Those are the choices. Anything else is just a variation of those two option.
If you choose to move beyond. You are setting yourself up for real recovery, real learning, real empowerment and real success. In fact, choosing to learn from your pain and use it to inform your future choices is the only real choice for someone who wants to be successful in this life.
As I know you want to be!
Don’t let yourself derail based on what others do, or what is done to you.
Only you have the power to choose. Only you can decide how much energy you put into feeling victimized, or how much you put into learning and moving forward.
By now you are probably aware that the world is not weighted on a fairness scale. It is highly unlikely that even the girl and boy scouts among us will be rewarded with good karma simply because they are ‘good’!
I’m not advocating that any of you abandon your rule-following, coloring in the lines goodness. Oh no.
I’m just saying that in addition to being a ‘good person’, you also need to cultivate the habit of owning your reactions, of sitting with your discomfort for a moment before choosing how best to move forward when something bad happens.
Choosing a mindful and determined response, rather than indignation and blame requires discipline and at times an iron-grip on your instincts which will be screaming for vengeance. Cultivating the art and skill of owning your own reactions is no small thing. But the rewards are so worth it.
This is quite literally a life-changing shift in perspective.
This one idea has quite literally saved me in my adult life. Saved me from how I manage my illness. Saved me from abandoning my marriage. Saved me from convincing myself that somehow I was powerless to achieve the life and the future that I wanted.
The way you experience life is more about the choices you make, than about anything that happens ‘to you’.
It may not feel that way in the heat of the moment, or the peak of the crisis, or the silence of rock bottom. But it is the truth.
The work falls then to facing your reactions to the things and people that challenge you. Instead of wasting energy on the people or impacts. you can focus instead on next steps. You can put your energy into something better, something with direction, something with potential. Indignation and blame lead nowhere. They literally don’t have the potential to get you anywhere.
Like nowhere. Dead-end. Full stop.
Don’t waste your time on blame. Don’t let your heart be heavy with indignation.
When you own your reactions, you have the power to do whatever you want to do. When you decide that you will not be derailed, a funny thing happens.
You won’t be.
For more on how high impact people can align their lives and their dreams, visit my coaching page here.