Remember, your life belongs to you.
A friend said that to me the other day and it jolted me. It somewhat woke me up actually. I’d been slogging along in an unacceptable situation, and finally heard a voice inside of me cry out, “And I don’t have to!” So 2011 is the year of change for me.
I hope it will be for you as well -- especially if you have been plodding along in a situation that doesn’t work for you, hasn’t worked for you, and isn’t going to work for you. It’s curious to me how we as human beings keep tolerating things that are not what we want in our lives.
Here’s an example. I received a phone call last week from someone who had read my book, The Emotionally Unavailable Man. She wanted me to tell her how to fix her fiance. Of course that’s a red flag for me: because nobody can fix anybody but themselves. Because that’s how it works. Only YOU can make things better in your life. However, she wanted to try it another way: to fix him.
She then described her 62 year old fiance that she had been dating for 4 years:
“He’s like a child, someone who never grew up, someone who doesn’t take responsibility, someone you have to tell what to do and what to say, someone who says very hurtful things and doesn’t even realize it, someone who doesn’t ever take initiative, is not dependable, isn’t working in a steady job, and can’t even pay his bills. He didn’t even get me a present for Christmas.”
I’m thinking to myself, “Really?” Clearly this person doesn’t need to fix HIM -- she needs to fix HERSELF by taking responsibility to get out of such an unfulfilling relationship that she has allowed herself to be in for FOUR YEARS. She then asked me if she should marry him. Again, “Really?” I had never spoken to this woman before and she wanted me to tell her whether or not to marry a man about whom she had nothing -- nothing -- positive to say.
Why do we think someone else knows better than we do? Why do we look outside for answers that are inside of us?
I told this woman to write down everything she had said to me, and to have her best friend read it back to her as if the problem were her best friend’s. After that I told her to ask herself, “What would I tell my friend to do?” Immediately she responded with, “I would tell her to get out. I would tell her she deserves more. I would tell her to find an adult to marry.”
You see, we know the answers. It’s just a matter of listening, trusting our inner voice, and being brave enough to move in the direction we want to go.
Another client of mine told me he was wanting to be married to someone who was sober. He’d been saying that to himself for 23 years! His wife was not interested in getting sober. He had raised their two precious children in an alcoholic, crazy system, all the while saying he wanted to be married to someone sober. So, the obvious is: if you want to be married to somebody sober, you have to get unmarried from somebody who isn’t sober.
That is, there is no substitute for action. We have to move in the direction we want to go. Your life belongs to you. Not your spouse, parents, children, friends, or boss. You are the only one who has the power to redirect your path. It’s an illusion to think someone else has that power.
Actually, it’s an excuse. It’s an avoidance. It’s a way to not do the hard stuff. It’s a way of not growing up. It’s a way of not being responsible -- that is, not being able to respond to a situation you don’t want in your life.
Because that’s all growing up is: having the ability to respond -- rather than react -- to ANY situation or problem that the universe hands you. It means being courageous enough to make an unpopular decision; to make, maybe, a mistake; to make a decision that may hurt others’ feelings, etc. It means, also, being courageous enough to claim your life as your own.
It also means being courageous enough to face our fear of being alone.
This, I think, is the single most fear that keeps people stuck. People stay in dead relationships for years because they are afraid of being alone. People stay in horrible jobs for years -- thinking if they lose this job they will never get another one as good. Sort of the all or nothing thinking: if I let go of this (even thought it’s bad), I will have nothing.
Which isn’t true. What actually happens is if you let go of something that is keeping you stuck, the Universe will swoop in to fill the vacuum with something new. it happens every time. Now, it might not happen immediately, but, it will happen.
I heard a story by motivational speaker Andy Andrews a while back. He told of Cortez’s quest to take the treasure that the Incas had guarded for 600 years. Here were the steps he took:
1. Get single focused -- he said, “I’m going to go get that treasure.”
2. Gather a support team -- he said, “I will take men who want a piece of the pie so they are invested in the project.”
3. Go for it -- be all in -- he said, “I’ll sell everything I have to buy boats for this mission.”
4. Practice saying out loud what you want in your life -- he said, “We are the conquerors! We own the treasure!”
5. And finally, when the boats and men had landed, Cortez said 3 powerful words on the beach that inspired them beyond compare: “Burn the boats.” Cortez said, “If we are going home, we are going home in their boats.”
Certainly that ramped up the men’s commitment. What are the boats you need to burn? What are the boats you are holding onto for security that are keeping you stuck?
For me, 2011 is the year of burning the boats to take my life to a different level of joy. How about for you?
Patti Henry is a Psychotherapist and author of "The Emotionally Unavailable Man: A Blueprint for Healing". See more on her website: www.patti-henry.com
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