Power is an illusion. In many situations, we deceive ourselves into believing that we have power, or even control, when in fact we do not. While we do have some authority over our lives, we do not have control over the things and people we often think that we do.
Do you think I may be wrong? Good, read on…
What does our life consist of? Mainly, the ingredients of life are choices, people, and circumstances. All of our experiences, good and bad, will fall into one of these three categories. The same can be said for our thoughts and emotions.
You may be thinking: this is impossible, there is so much more to life than my choices, the people in it, and the circumstances. Ok, well take any topic and see if it doesn’t fit into one of these three aspects. Try it. You will find that all of them fit into these categories, and not necessarily because we want them to, they fit because we do not have control over the way they fit.
Unfortunate life events = circumstances; exciting life events = circumstances; broken and wonderful relationships = people; career and educational pursuits = choices. The examples could go on and on. The bottom line is our choices are underlying the circumstances and people in our lives. Without choices, many of these life experiences do not occur.
Unfortunate events happen in our lives, even under the best laid plans and choices. This is inevitable. In no way is the case being made that we have control over all of our circumstances, as this would be foolish. However, we do have control over many of our behaviors and outcomes based on our choices.
Our choices impact everything from our daily life to the entire picture. The sooner that we accept this, the easier we can make things on ourselves, and release the myth that we have power over areas in our lives where we essentially do not.
Here are a few reminders to keep our choices in perspective:
- Accept that you do not have control over everything in your life. This is #1. We all have mistakenly believed that we have way more power than we actually have. In reality, we have very, very, little power. Examples of the uncontrollable: other people, the weather, unforeseen circumstances, the future, the past, or in many ways, even the present. The only aspect of our life where we control the wheel is in our choices, which is the first step for giving ourselves the best opportunity to reach our goals and lead prosperous lives. Believe it or not, the truth lies in your choices. Just one, or definitely a series of poor choices can alter the course of your life, and unfortunately, even permanently. Our choices certainly do not require perfection, which is impossible, but as we mature and experience much more of life, we should learn how to make better choices.
- Accept that you can control the choices you make, and how those choices connect to your life goals. Once you agree that your ultimate power in life lies within your freedom of choice, and the free will that follows, you will take your choices seriously. You will think even deeper about possible outcomes of your choices, and work to improve upon areas where you are prone to make irrational or inappropriate decisions. You will begin to respect the power of choice in a new way. It will no longer be enough for you to listen to random advice from others, or to make an uneducated or immature decision. You will connect your actions to your goals, and your goals to your choices. Looking into our past, we can all see where our choices distracted us away from our goals. Detours occurred. Unnecessary circumstances could have been avoided. Even if we were able to get back on track and reach our initial goal at a later time, our previous choices still haunt us because we know we could have done better and met the goal sooner, and with less conflict. Well, there is no time to beat ourselves up about the past, but we do need to take time to reflect and learn in order to go forward.
- Believe that you have power to make better choices, and begin today, not tomorrow. Everyone has regrets of some sort. Some people have deeper regrets than others, but they are still regrets. The good news is that although we cannot change what occurred in the past, we can make changes today, for our future. We may not even be able to rectify our previous actions or choices, but we can make mature choices based on the direction we want to go. The key is that we have to start NOW. Tomorrow may be too late, and remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Begin to make better choices today, right now, in this moment. Say your peace with those around you who may have been wronged by your previous behavior or choices. Outline your next steps to avoid falling back into the same line of thinking and decision-making from your past. And yes, do this TODAY.
- Understand that circumstances will occur that are outside of good choices. We live in a fallen world, a state of existence where the actions of others may negatively impact us. No matter how skilled we are in making good decisions, life will still happen. We will face sudden and unexpected loss, disappointments, disasters, and pain. We cannot escape this part of life, but when unforeseen circumstances occur, we can still do our best to make good decisions as we navigate through the challenge or loss. It will be hard to see the light when we face negative events in life, but we have to try to remember that our lives were not always so dark, and will not remain as difficult. This is the time to focus on any piece of optimism you can grasp, even if its small. Thinking positive during the storm will help to get you through, and will also help others to see that they can endure and survive their challenges as well.
- Behave in dignified ways and make choices to think in optimistic ways. Making good choices means that we have to focus on behaving well. We cannot make bad decisions, take action that places us in dangerous positions, or think in ways that are defeating and expect our lives to flow in a positive direction. For example, if you are drinking, then do not drive, period. Do not think that you can make a healthy or safe choice when under the influence of alcohol. Also, be sure that you remind yourself that your choices can impact others. If you choose to drive after drinking, you could harm someone else. Of course, this is not our intent, but we have to be aware of this possibility and make a dignified choice to never drive if we have been drinking. Drinking and driving is just one example, and an extreme one, so use this analogy to apply to your own personal example. Either way, accept that in order to make good choices, we have to lead respectful lives, and all of this will enable us into thinking optimistically too.
- Monitor the people you associate with. There is a difference between friends and acquaintances. Peer pressure exists. If you want to make better choices, and regain your power in this area, you also have to be aware of your surroundings. The people who are an active part of your life, display a lot about your character. Friends are close to us, we spend time with them, share our life challenges and fears, and they are often considered an extension of our family. Acquaintances are not necessarily in the friend zone, instead they are people we may regularly see and interact with, but they are not included in the daily details of our lives. Know the difference between friends and acquaintances, and act accordingly. Do not share your life experiences with everyone, and do not expose your presence to people who drag you down. If there are negative people in your circle, especially those who often make damaging and harmful choices, it may be time to re-assess the importance of their presence in your life. Yes, it is acceptable to remove people from our life, especially if they bring negativity. Use good judgment.
- Always think and do your best. The bottom line is that you do have power over your choices, but there is no level of perfection to attain. Regardless of how intentional you are in your decision-making, you will make mistakes and also make some poor decisions along the way. This is part of life, and part of being human. All we can do, each day, is do our best. We must do our best to be better everyday, do our best to make better decisions, and do our best to relinquish the “illusion of power” and remain realistic about what we can control.
WE ARE ONLY IN CONTROL OF OUR CHOICES…