Who’s In Charge Here?

Are you sure you’re in charge of your life? Or could it be that you’re actually a product of all the programming you’ve been given? From childhood and the need to live by our parents’ rules, through school age and all the rules imposed there, to adulthood and the need to fit in, we are being programmed. Little ones say what they want to be when they grow up and their ‘dults smile smugly, “That’s NOT going to happen, don’t get too big for your britches.”  Young’uns want to change the world and they hear, “You’re only one person, how much of a difference do you think you can make.” Most of the messages are designed to keep kids, and then young adults, and finally even old adults, in their places. Follow the rules. Don’t rock the boat. Be a good girl.

So how do you take back the control for your thinking?

I believe it starts by deciding what you really, really want. This isn’t about what you can achieve, or what you can accomplish. It’s about what you really, really want from your life. You have to imagine. You have to look outside the box. You have to be willing to try and fail and try again.

It is a little sad that we live in a society where many people measure themselves by their STUFF instead of by their growth. I’ve been lucky in my life. I’ve had the opportunity to try new things. I’ve had the opportunity to grow. But part of the reason I’ve been so happy is that I’ve faced changed with optimism and excitement.

You’ve seen those random pictures of plants growing up through cement, right? We see trees clinging to cliff-sides. We see remarkable evidence of determination to survive and thrive. Why don’t we have the same sense of determination for our own personal growth then? Why are we willing to measure ourselves by the shortest of rulers?

If what you’ve been doing until now isn’t making you happy, if you don’t like the results you’ve been getting, maybe it’s time to change the way you’re thinking. Break through the cement set around your thoughts as you were growing up. Find the sun and air and water you need to thrive and be happy. Change the way you look at things, and what you’re looking at will change.

Answer these questions:

  1. How meaningful is your life? (rank it on a scale of 1-10)
  2. Are the things you’re currently spending your time doing adding to your sense of meaningfulness? (how?)
  3. If you could do anything you wanted to have a more meaningful life, what would it be? (write them down)

14 Responses to “Who’s In Charge Here?”

  1. avatar Leslie-Anne Says:
    January 10, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Thanks Gail, this is what I needed to hear this morning.

  2. I worried all through Christmas this year that our kids were not going to get the meaning: being together, enjoying our time etc. or would the focus be on what did I get. I had such a pleasant and inspiring surprise when the little things they did for each other were the things that meant the most!

    My youngest (only 12) posted a quote that she said inspired her and it proves to me that they are getting the jist. “People are made to be loved and things are made to be used. The confusion in this world is that people are being used and things are being loved”. Awesome and positive progress in my job as a parent!

  3. @Tracy – Your doing something right! You should post that quote on the fridge so all your children can see it and understand it!

    Do you know who said the quote? Just curious.

  4. This might sound terrible, and a criticism to my husband, but it’s not meant that way. Since he’s been away travelling, home only on weekends for a few years, I’ve discovered a new, better, perspective on life. With him being gone, I felt more confident to make my own decisions and decided to live life closer to how I’d like to. That meant owning less stuff and helping others more. It also meant taking care of me. Every time he comes home, he has less stuff to come home to, lol! But I find it so freeing. It’s been gradual, and he’s starting to come around to seeing it more from my point of view. We also eat differently, and that’s harder on him, especially as he’s used to eating out of a can or restaurant. He likes a good hearty meal.
    I think my life is fairly meaningful; I have a job that helps others. Maybe an 8?
    Every day I’m trying to do something kind for someone else. The good karma hadn’t yet started flowing back to me though, and it’s even turned and bit me in the butt. But I’ll continue, though I’m starting to become very disappointed in the human race.
    I would like to start volunteering with a help line. But with being an almost single parent, and it being a terrible winter, I think I’ll look into it in the spring.
    I’d also like to put together a group of “angels” who help those in the community in need… I’ve been doing a little of that already, but, again, with working full-time, etc., it’s a time thing.

  5. Great read, I can truly relate to this! I come from a small northern community of blue collar workers where my parents “know their place”. Since moving down to Toronto about 15 years ago, it has been an amazing time of growth and realization!

    An example of this was at Christmas time when I was back up there visiting. My mother made a comment about how her sister’s (my aunt) female children SHOULD take more responsibility with the family (leaving out the male child as if he gets a pass) right in front of her grand-daughter (my niece)! I cringed at the message being sent to this little 11 year old girl and then I spoke up how that is a double standard that is very unfair to burden on specific people simply because of their gender. I believe my mother was raised that way and was simply passing that message down. Luckily she stopped and agreed with me and hopefully a little positive signal was sent to my niece.

    Always challenge standards and go for what you want!

  6. That’s great Cas. I commend you. The human race has gotten too caught up in themselves and what they can get (accumulate) that seeing someone who is down on their luck (begging) is “disgusting” or completely ignore a cry for help because they “need” a cup of coffee and can’t spare the change. Or they feel pity and maybe a bit sad but they still don’t DO anything to help because they only look at themselves and their struggles.
    Although in my area a few of the homeless people we have around here only use the money for booze even if they say they are using it for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. (They hang around Tim Horton’s and their is a liquor store around the corner) Better to buy it for them in that case? They are harmless drunks, but it doesn’t help them giving them money that won’t better their situation.
    It’s a bad winter for those who are living on the streets. But in this society how many people would stop and say “Hey! You need a hot meal, some new clothes and a hot shower.” And then invite them back so the person can feel some relief. Surely there is enough people in this world that can offer all three. But people only focus on the worst outcome, and not that the person is just looking for someone to give them a break.
    I’m sure my life will become more meaningful over time. I know that true meaning comes from within yourself and how you act or treat other people and asking nothing in return. Doing small things for someone goes a long way. And it doesn’t bother me (maybe rarely) that I offer more of myself than other people would for me if the situation was reversed. I grew up relying on numero uno and worked hard for everything I have or will have and if I can do something to help someone, then that’s all that matters.
    I’m working towards having a home and my own children one day (when I finally meet Mr. Right) and I think the most meaningful thing you can do in your life is raising your children to think of others before themselves, teaching them about money from an early age so they can have a better future, to be independent and to know their own self-worth. To teach them a solid work ethic. Teach them they can be anything they want to be and you’ll always love them and that failing is apart of life.

  7. @Tasii – I had a similar experience this Christmas though it didn’t end well. As I work in retail, Christmas is a very busy and stressful time and I am a very giving person. I worked until midnight on the 23rd and back in at 6 am on the 24th. I then had to pick up my younger brother and drive to my mom’s that was an hour away. I then had to make THEM supper. I was tired and hungry. My mom had the day off that day and my older brother parked himself in front of the TV. Christmas morning I made breakfast and I was too exhausted to do anything else.
    My mom wanted me on the road by 4 before it got dark, and we were to eat at 1:30. 2:30 rolls around and I get up to ask her what else needed to be done. She yelled at me for not helping her and I’m supposed to learn how to cook a turkey even though she KNOWS I can’t stand touching raw meat. I told her to stop f-ing genderizing the role. My brothers got to park their asses and do nothing all day. Not even help with the dishes and when I get up to help move things along I get bitched at. I told her not to expect me for next christmas and I haven’t really spoken to her since. I’m tired of my family criticizing me. I’m tired of my brothers getting a pass. I’m tired that my parents don’t stick up for me when my brothers lay into me, and I’m tired of them placing expectations on me when they place none on my brothers. Before the start of the New Year, I began my F U, I’ll do things my way and no more crap life.

  8. This message made me cry this morning. That cement is thick!! Thanks Gail.

  9. @EmilyK – Perhaps gone about the wrong way, but I completely agree with sticking up for yourself. My brother always got a pass, and can criticize me, but I am not supposed to rock the boat and stick up for myself. I changed that a couple years ago. It caused some chaos in the family for a while, but we can be civil now.

    I always think it is “funny” when women say how good their husbands are at helping around the house, or not. Are the women helping around the house? The terminology suggests that it is the women’s work, and the men are helping them out.

  10. Love this post. One of your best.

  11. Wow, this really hit the mark today. I am struggling emotionally with a big change in my life which is pushing me to my limits. I know I am growing through it, but it is still hard. I am hoping as time goes on things will get a bit easier. Even though I looked forward to this change, it is still scary and anxiety-inducing for reasons I don’t fully comprehend. Taking things one day at a time and searching for the meaning in it all.

  12. @EmilyK – glad to hear that you’re doing what you need to do to preserve your sanity and maintain your self-respect. You did the right thing.

    Gail, thanks for this post. Sadly, I’m not doing what makes me happy but I’ve resolved to figure out what I really, really want so that I can do what it takes to get me there. I’ll break through the cement eventually!

  13. Thank you Gail! As always your timing is unbelievable. Overwhelmed with trying to make a change, when it feels like I am pressured from all sides (family, work) to maintain the status quo. Really want to start doing something that will make a difference. Something that will inspire me and make my heart full. As opposed to making someone else more money and collecting a paycheque.

    Thank you for your inspiration!

  14. This. Is. Phenomenal.

    This philosophy and messaging perfectly sums up how I approach life. I see all too much around me that people are after the pursuit of “stuff”, which is never as fulfilling as they think it will be.

    More importantly, I feel that it is up to us to take charge of what we want in life. All too often, people complain about what they don’t have. It is our own responsibility, and if we aren’t happy with what we have, unless you are doing something about it, then nothing will ever change. I always tell others that no one is going to come knocking on your door, with the opportunity you have been waiting for (be it, financial, career, personal, etc).

    Thanks for this!

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