OUR LIFE INFLUENCES
Our Life Influences
Have you ever actually stopped an asked yourself “Why
am I like I am?” At some point in your life you
will reach this moment of clarity – if you haven’t
done so yet, let this be that moment. This is a ‘crossing
the threshold’ moment from stagnation, anger,
guilt and resentment to taking control, self responsibility,
self esteem, and happiness.
We are who we are, or what we are, through years of
influences on our thoughts and behaviours. We built
our self image, based on the perceptions of those around
us. We built our values on expectations of our parents
and communities. We judged our self worth through the
opinions of others.
We cannot do anything to change what happened yesterday,
but we can choose how we think, act and believe today.
Sometimes it’s hard to make the connection between
past influences and yourself today. It can take a lot
of courage to go back and face past demons. Many find
this a healing process; at times it’s even quite
amusing to see how ridiculous our interpretation of
an event as a child was, compared to the logic we can
now apply to it as an adult.
A typical outcome of this programming is that as adults
we too often interpret the words or actions of others
as ‘our fault’ or criticism for something
we have said or done. Yet, most of the time it has absolutely
nothing to do with us. Try this. Next time you witness
dissatisfaction in someone else being directed at you,
stop for a moment and ask yourself – What else
could this mean? It could mean they had a tiff with
their spouse this morning, they could be suffering back
pain, and they could have been misinformed. Don’t
let their dissatisfaction become your dissatisfaction
– most of the time it’s not about YOU!
If you haven’t read “Conversations with
God: an uncommon dialogue” [Neal Donald Walsh]
– Part One, I highly recommend you do so. Despite
its title, this is not a religious based book. It’s
a wonderful transcript of a conversation between God
and a man whose life has just fallen apart. The man
challenges God about famine, war, love, the purpose
of life, and why God is punishing him. It’s a
totally liberating book in that it releases you from
accepting all the values and expectations placed upon
you by your parents and society. It empowers your life
as totally yours, for you to choose your own values,
your own rules and your own destiny. It’s definitely
a book you will read more than once.
Don’t expect so much of yourself as an adult.
Life is a process of continual growth and you are not
expected to be perfect at the age of 21. Despite past
customs there is no magic door we walk through between
childhood and adulthood. Passion for life comes from
allowing yourself an attitude of growth and adventure
as you explore all the options available to you. As
long as you adopt a caring and considerate attitude
towards others, valuing their right to be who they choose
to be, then you can really design your life to be however
you want. No rules apply. Just remember, that actions
create reactions and that social order in communities
is required. But if you don’t care for the rules
of that community, the choice is totally yours to move
Once you reach 30 you have had more than enough time
to form your own opinions. You are totally responsible
for everything you do in your life and if you haven’t
let your parents off the hook for all the things they
did wrong by you; its time to get over it. Just let
it go. Stop paying for it right now. Every day you harbour
grudges, hate, anger, jealousy, you are wasting another
precious day of moving forward to the life you choose.
Your days won’t always be perfect – how
boring would that be anyway. But they are your days
and only you can decide how to spend them. If you have
responsibilities to others, you chose to accept those
responsibilities. Everything has a price, there are
no free lunches. The trick is to work out the payback
of every decision, and once you accept the trade is
of value, get on with it. When the value declines, reassess
the decision and if there is the option to change the
relationship; do so. Stop blaming everyone else for
your decisions. There will be enough misfortunes in
life beyond your control, so choose your life influences
Imagine yourself with a force field surrounding you.
This is your space, your zone of control. You get to
choose what influences pass through the force field
into your space. I won’t read newspapers of listen
to the news on television. It’s only the same
stories everyday, just happening to different people.
There will be a war, a car accident, an assault, a robbery,
a commercial crime and a death. Its not that I don’t
care about what has happened to these people, but I
cannot change what has happened, so I don’t need
to know about the details. I care for my family, friends
and neighbours. If everyone did that, there wouldn’t
be any of these negative things, so why should I pick
up the grief of someone else’s wrong doings. It’s
none of my business. I choose not to have these negative
influences in my life. I get all the news I need filtered
through Internet RSS Feeds and news sites.
If someone has a grudge with me, sure I want to know
if I have done something to hurt or wrong them. But
guess what, most of the negative criticism one receives
is because the other person has a problem, and is purely
taking out their anger, jealousy or whatever on you.
Sure I get hurt by such attacks, but I have to remind
myself that what they think of me is none of my business.
What I think of me matters more.
Helping some people is just impossible – they
love being miserable, they have been miserable for a
long time and choose to be miserable now. I’m
not about to get into that sinking ship either.
By now you must be wondering what sort of uncaring
person I am. That’s exactly what I want you to
think. You see, you are judging me by your standards,
which are based on your life influences. I am not responsible
for what you think. I am not responsible for what other
people do. I am responsible for myself and those I chose
to share my life with. If that is a spouse, a child
a community, I have a responsibility to care for them.
The sooner you release yourself from being responsible
for the whole world – the sooner you will have
the freedom to care more for those you love. Then choose
how you would like to contribute to the world in charitable
ways. It is not a requirement, it is a choice.
I am the first person to help someone with a problem.
I am no stranger to loss, grief, depression, despair
and stress. And the support I received was invaluable.
But how much time and energy you decide to give does
not decide how good a person you are. You have the right
to protect your own wellbeing, and if the cost of supporting
someone else becomes too high, you have the right to
release yourself from that situation. You will often
be surprised how they will spring back once they stop
having other people to complain to all the time. Misery
loves company, so in many cases you are helping them
by refusing to participate. It’s your choice.
Instead of immersing yourself in negative influences
– use the time to do something positive to make
yourself and those around you feel good. Seek out happiness,
not grief. That’s what I do anyway – but
then that’s just me, living by my rules!!