Image: Monina Velarde
One of my favorite movies (don’t hold it against me!) is Forest Gump. At the start of the movie, we follow a feather as it is blown by the wind through the streets, eventually off course and ending up with Gump. As I watched this opening sequence, I thought you know, that’s how many people live their lives: Like the feather; no direction, no purpose, just being blown around or reacting to every fad, circumstance and problem that life throws at them. The problem with this type of lifestyle is that we never really achieve anything. We develop a victim mentality, blaming every body and every thing else for our situations, and taking no responsibility for our own lives or actions. When we live like this, we allow situations, relationships and things outside of our control to influence us and affect the way we live and even the way we feel.
It’s all about choices.
I once saw a documentary about two brothers. These two brothers grew up in the same family, they went to the same schools, had the same opportunities, both were loved by their parents and accepted by everyone around them. Not too special you might say. But here is the thing: although everything was the same, the brothers took very different paths. One brother went on to become a successful author and public speaker, he also became a respected superior court judge. He got married, had a wonderful family and is, by most standards, successful. The other, however, ended up serving a life sentence in maximum security prison, without family or future. At the conclusion of this documentary, they asked the brother who was in jail why life had turned out so badly for him. He said, “I have no one to blame but myself. I made the wrong choices.”
I have spoken to a lot of people who travel through life blaming parents, circumstances and backgrounds for their current situations. See, it’s easier to blame someone or something outside of ourselves, rather than take responsibility for our own choices in life. This type of behavior of course has been going on since the beginning of time. Look at Adam and Eve: God had told them that they could eat of any of the fruit of the garden except ONE! Of course, Adam and Eve disobeyed this instruction. The Bible tells us that when God came looking for them he asked, “Adam, what did you do?” Adam then pointed the finger: “It’s not MY fault, it’s the woman.” And, just to make sure he was totally in the clear, he went on to say, “It’s not MY fault, it’s the woman that YOU gave me.” He blamed God!
This human behavior of wanting to blame anything or anybody else for our problems says, “I am not in control; I cant help it.“ It tries to absolve us of any responsibility. But if we really want our lives to change, we need to be responsible for our lives. We might not be able to change our background or circumstances, but we can determine our own actions and reactions.
See, you might not be able to stop people thinking or saying bad things about you, but you can choose not to react but rather choose your response instead. You might not be able to do anything about losing a job or contract, but you can choose to see it as an opportunity to do new things.
A person who has mastered the art of choice and response, who has become pro-active in their everyday lives and relationships, will start to see life differently and start to develop more confidence and certainty, knowing that they are in control of the direction of their lives.