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 on.

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 carefully.

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!!

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