“You are responsible for everything in your life…”
Life is messy. And beautiful. And challenging. And unpredictable. And awful and wonderful all at the same time.
And as humans, so are we…messy, beautiful, challenging, difficult, light and dark. We are all of it. Yet we try so hard to just be the good. The light. The perfect. We work to just be the things we think people expect us to be.
When the truth is, nobody expects us to be perfect all of the time. Except maybe ourselves.
Since my early 20s, I have been on an intense journey inward…a journey into really knowing and understanding my very imperfect, complicated and messy self.
I was and always have been convinced that the only path to truly loving and accepting ourselves is by becoming more self-aware, so we can understand why we make the choices we do and why we are the way that we are.
Although our identity is mostly formed in our early years (psychologists say we form our identity by the age of six years old), this isn’t about blaming our parents or our childhood, since most everything we become later in life somehow connects back to our experiences as a child.
This is simply about making the connections and understanding where our deepest fears, ingrained patterns and ways of being in the world originated from so that we can understand them.
And then owning all of it. All of our messiness. All of our choices. And all of our delicious imperfectness.
Growing up, I often felt that I had to be perfect. I would have told you that is how my parents expected me to be. A straight “A” student. An accomplished athlete. A girl who acted like a lady, obeyed all the rules, and never, ever got into trouble.
My mother would say to me, “Nobody puts this pressure on you but yourself. We don’t expect you to be perfect.” And at the time I didn’t believe it.
In fact, I called bullsh*t on her a number of times until I realized that she was 100 percent right and I was the one who was consciously making the choice to try to be perfect throughout my life to win everyone’s love and approval.
By the way…this never worked.
The admission that I was consciously making this choice to master “perfection” was the first time I ever really took responsibility for my own life. And the decisions I had made.
Because let’s face it: we’re all adults making our own decisions every day. Whether they are good or bad, right or wrong, in our best interest or not. And really, who’s to judge what is right or wrong for us anyway?
Like everybody else, my life has not gone as planned. I’ve made lots of choices I regret. And have spent lots of time blaming others for “pressuring me” into doing something or “making me feel bad” if I didn’t say yes to something they asked me to do.
I’ve even used the excuse, “Well, I didn’t want to hurt their feelings by turning them down or saying no.”
Then ended up being angry and resentful when that choice ended up bringing me a lot of pain.
We often blame other people for our circumstances and our feelings. I challenge you to look back at every relationship you’ve ever been in and not point the finger at the other person and list out all the reasons it didn’t work out.
The truth is we chose the person. We chose them…
Whether that person turned out to not be what we expected, or didn’t uphold their end of the bargain, or became controlling or abusive, or just plain checked out of the relationship. The bottom line is, we chose them.
Because for a period of time, they made us happy. And they brought something of value to our lives.
So, yes, we have to take responsibility for the things we’ve accepted in our lives—the partners we’ve chosen, the jobs we’ve taken that we knew were never right for us to begin with, the relationships we’ve stayed in far longer than we know we should have.
But we also need to decide when to choose to let it go.
When is it okay to let ourselves off the hook?
For me, it’s when I know deep down that it’s for my soul’s growth. When I can see the lessons in the very choices I’ve made.
When I recognize how much I’ve evolved as a person because of some of the challenges I’ve actually manifested in my own life…the ones that forced me to “man up,” let things go and reveal my shadow side that I kept hidden from the world.
The ones that forced me to release destructive behaviors or old stories about myself that simply weren’t true.
Taking responsibility for all of our choices doesn’t mean we need to beat ourselves up. It just means that we can admit to ourselves, “You know, I made that choice. And it wasn’t the best one for me at the time but I learned something about myself through the process. I grew. I was broken open. I fell apart. I reinvented myself. I gave myself an opportunity to start over and become someone different. Someone better.”
The most important thing I’ve learned though is to stop blaming others for my own unhappiness or for things not going the way I want.
Have people done hurtful things to me? Absolutely.
And you know what? So have I. So have all of us.
I absolutely love Wayne Dyer’s quote about blame and often refer back to it when I find myself going to that place of wanting to blame someone else for my circumstances.
“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.”
Happiness is a choice we make every single day. We can choose to look at our lives as this beautiful thing we are creating day by day, moment by moment. Or we can choose to see it as something happening to us. Out of our control.
I’ve accepted that unexpected things are going to happen that knock me off my path from time to time. I’ve accepted that people are going to do things that hurt me or put me in situations that make my life more challenging.
But I’ve chosen to embrace every part of it. I’m in control. I choose my reactions every day to the things people say to me and the things people do. I can choose to take their sh*t on. Or I can choose to hand it back to them and say, “No thanks. That’s your stuff.”
I just have to own my stuff. Stay in my lane. Keep on my course. And trust that every single thing that the Universe is bringing to me is of my own manifestation, for my soul’s growth.
And as long as I know I’m on that path, no matter how messy, imperfect and bumpy it may be, I can find happiness.
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Cat Beekmans
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The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home. These People are Rare Gems—Keep Them, Fight for Them, don’t Give Up on Them. Mom, can I Call her Mom, Too? Jon Stewart makes first appearance since retiring—”it’s not your country.” Waylon shares 10 transformingly beautiful Quotes about Love. 40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years. My Marriage had to End—for my Life to Begin. Why your Yoga Goals are (Probably) Irrelevant, if not Downright Dangerous. Dear Woman in the White Car at Margaritas Mexican Grill in West Memphis, Arkansas on July 15th, 2012.