There’s no escaping the truth. As Winston Churchill once said, “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”
And when it comes to our lives the simple truth is that we are where we are in life because of the choices we’ve made. Some of those choices may have been unconscious ones, things that we didn’t really consider or analyze, but we made the decision, took the action, and here we are.
Zig Ziglar often asks his audience the question: Is there something specific that you could do in the next week that would make your life worse? Everyone in the audience will admit that yes, there is something that they can think of that they could do that would make their life worse.
He then follows it up with the question: Is there something specific that you could do in the next week that would make your life better? The audience will again realize that they can think of things that would make their life better.
Zig then lets them know that they just stated that they have the power to make their lives worse or better. For them, as well as for us, it’s a matter of our choices. Even if our lives are not the best, even if they are total disasters right now, there are things that we could all think of that we could do that will either make things worse or better.
For most of my life I have been pretty much on autopilot. My decisions were based on what seemed to be right, or at least convenient, in the moment without any real thought as to why I felt the way that I did or if convenience was the best course. I made a lot of decisions and did things that weren’t always the best. As a matter of fact, some of them were really stupid and I regret the things that I have done that caused pain and problems for others and myself.
But it doesn’t do me any good to look at my life and get bummed out about it. Spending a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and beating myself up with blame and guilt won’t fix anything. And when I finally accept all the responsibility there’s some very good news that comes out of that realization. The truth is that if it really is all about my choices, then I can start making better ones.
If I’ve been running on autopilot, pretty much ignorant of the power I have to take control of my own life, I can change that. I can stop blaming my parents for how my life turned out. They are just people and so they are just as flawed as the rest of us, and even if they contributed to some of the wrong beliefs and thinking that I developed as a child, it’s time for me to question those ideas. I especially have to start questioning the ones that may be limiting what think I’m capable of doing with my life.
What we have in today, the results and conditions that exist in our lives, are neither good nor bad, they just are. It’s what we’ve been able to do based on what we believed up to this point. There’s no point getting bogged down in guilt, we have to accept that our life is the way it is because of what we believed, thought, and did. The past is just exactly that, the past. We can accept both the responsibility for where we are and for where we are going.
If we look at our lives and see that we haven’t created the kind of financial results that we would like, the first step we have to take is to accept that we created our current circumstances. Then we have to also accept the responsibility to create the new beliefs and plans and to take action on them so that we can have the kind of bank account, and investments, we really want. If we’re in debt, we have to acknowledge that we put ourselves there and we can find the answers to get ourselves out of it.
The Bible says that the heart, or the subconscious, is deceitful and wicked and that no one can fully know what is in it. But it also tells us that our hearts are exposed by the words we say and the results that we get in life. So while we may not be able to figure out exactly what is lurking in the dark recesses of our minds, we can begin to understand some of it out by looking at the current state of our lives.
But once we examine our lives, then the hard part begins. Because once we look at, acknowledge and accept what we’ve created so far, we have to make some decisions. Do we want things to continue as they are? Or are there things that we would like to change? What do our results tell us about what we currently believe?
Some of you may be wondering, “But what about events that happen in our lives that are beyond our control?” It’s just a fact that those kinds of things happen to everyone. How we choose to react to those events is what will make the difference for us. The same event can be a tragedy for one person and a triumph for someone else. The deciding factor isn’t the event but the reaction to it. It’s the choices we make that determine whether something will hold us back or help us move forward.
As we accept the responsibility for everything in our lives we may initially feel a bit overwhelmed. But it’s not about blaming ourselves, or anyone else, for our results. It is really all about realizing that we have had a lot more influence than we might have thought. And by recognizing that fact, we can take full responsibility, and therefore also greater control, over where we go from here.