If you’re miserably unhappy and you hate where you are in life, I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is that you can’t blame somebody else for your problems. Not forever, anyway. The good news is that nobody else can stop you from fixing your life by changing your future. Starting today.
The choices you made a year ago — or five years ago or even longer ago — have given you the consequences you face today. Even if someone abused you in the past or messed you up through dysfunctional childhood programming, there comes a time when you can take control.
If you haven’t realized this until now, today can be the most important day of your life — because today can be the day when you take responsibility for changing the things which make you unhappy.
It took me decades to learn this lesson. I was so damaged by a dysfunctional childhood that I was in complete denial. Even though I often felt that something was wrong, I didn’t understand what had gone wrong. My confusion and the accumulated emotional damage caused me to drift in life. I allowed my life to fall apart. And it was only through serious self-reflection — and good therapy — that I learned what had happened.
From that point forward, the mess was mine. I could explain the past through the lens of what happened in my childhood, but I know that what I have today is because of my own choices. I’ve made some good choices and some bad choices, but I freely accept that my choices are creating my consequences. For both good and bad.
It’s easy to find ways to avoid responsibility for where you are in life.
Your parents abused you. You had bad luck in business. Your husband (or wife) turned out to be a narcissistic loser. Your health hasn’t been good. A friend betrayed you. Or you were disabled in an accident.
Every one of these problems could be heartbreaking. Any one of them might happen to you through no fault of your own. But no matter what has happened to you, these tragedies can simply be the beginning of your story. How you react to these setbacks will determine whether you are defined by your tragedy or by how you reacted to tragedy.
This won’t fix what’s wrong with every life. Some people die from their tragedies. But if you are still alive — and still have the power to make your own choices — you have the power to write the next chapter of your story. You have the power to make different choices — which can have different consequences.
When terrible things happen in the broader world around us, it’s easy to say, “But nobody could have known that was going to happen.” Sometimes, that’s true. Other times, it’s a convenient excuse we give ourselves for following blindly after what the culture around us is doing.
It’s obvious to me that our own culture is becoming more dangerous every year. It seems to me that anyone who’s paying attention can see the dangers of blindly following the comfortable patterns that our society has taught us.
It’s obvious to me that our monetary system has to collapse at some point. It’s clear that the social order has become dysfunctional and chaotic, leading to increasing physical danger and eventual collapse. It’s obvious that the political system is going to implode and collapse into warring camps.
If you say there’s nothing you can do — and you just wait for everything to collapse — few people will blame you when you say you can’t be blamed for what happened. But if you believe you see what’s coming and take actions to prepare yourself — maybe by moving to somewhere less likely to face the same collapse — your future can be different than if you do nothing.
If your relationships causes you misery, you might not be able to control what got you to this point — but you can change your future. You can cut ties with people who are dysfunctional or dangerous. Even if you made bad choices that brought you bad consequences now, nobody says this is where you have to end up.
If you think about it, you can easily come up with circumstances under which bad things can happen to good people. And your life could be ruined — or even ended — by one of those circumstances.
But even if that’s true, it’s still useful to believe you can change things. As long as you’re alive and still have power to start over, it should be liberating to know you can make new choices. It should be exhilarating to know that your new choices can bring you new consequences.
You might have to start over several times. You might have a lot of lessons to learn. You might have to reject many of your previous choices as you learn and grow. But if you keep making better choices — and hold yourself to ever-higher standards — the time will quite likely come when you have consequences that you like.
If you hate where you are in life right now, nobody can stop you from starting over. Nobody can stop you from making new choices that will give you different consequences — that will give you the kind of life you’ve only dreamed about.
From this day forward, take full responsibility for your choices. It can change everything.