In yesterday’s article, Is Life Making You Bitter or Better? I spoke about a decision that each of us are faced with, given our history and life’s experiences. With that decision comes a personal accountability and responsibility, to both ourselves and other people. How we respond to that accountability and responsibility will undoubtedly impact both our well-being and our relationships. What helps and gives me comfort in this process is to recognize that life is always teaching. What determines whether I learn from what life is teaching me is my willingness.
What determines whether I learn from what life is teaching me is my willingness.
A willingness to be willing to process my feelings and reactions to what makes me uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable, I have found; usually indicates that I need to look at some thing in my own life. Essentially, my reactions are my reality. If I am reacting to some thing in someone, my reaction is more than likely about me than about the other person. The other person or situation is merely reflecting or acting out what I don’t like about myself. The other person , in essence; is a mirror of what I may be denying and don’t want to look or see in myself.
In my experience, until I was willing and able to look at what life was teaching me I felt like a pinball, that ricocheted off of a series of resentments, discouragements and disappointments. Unknowingly, this manner of relating to people, places and things left me drained, depleted and feeling helpless. This manner of relating to people, places and things led me to believe that I needed to defend, answer and explain myself. Although I spent much of my time and energy seeking to endure and survive circumstances, to feel safe; I rarely felt quite secure.
A Point in Time
In my experience, when I reached a point in time when I realized that relating to people, places and things in the above manner was no longer working, I made some practical and life changing decisions for myself. I made the decision that I no longer wanted to merely be a survivor, tossed about by my reactions to people, places and things. With this decision, I realized that some thing needed to change. I realized that I needed to embark on a new way of living. I realized that I needed to use my time and energy in more productive ways, by examining why I reacted.
As I took the time to examine why I reacted to people places and things, some thing began to change in me. I began to realize that I was / am powerless over people, places and things. With this awareness, it also became apparent to me that I was / am the only one who I can change. With these awareness’, I came to realize that although I am powerless over being able to change people, places and things, I am not powerless to change how I react to people, places and things. With is realization, I began to grasp the reality that I could experience a new freedom in my life.
With this awareness, I began to realize that I had a choice in the matter. Whether I stayed bitter or got better. Whether I experienced a new freedom or whether I stayed stuck in life . With my awareness, I began to realize that the choice was up to me.
With my new way of living and through my recovery process, I discovered that I could stop being bitter by ceasing to make other people, places and things responsible for my choices. By making the choice to stop putting the blame on people, places and things — for my reactions — I discovered that the energy once used to maintain resentment and bitterness became available. Available to enhance and make my life, as I related to people, places and things; better. Available to invite and cultivate relationships with people, instead of pushing those people away from me.
Through taking responsibility and by being accountable to myself and for my reactions I discovered that my life became more manageable by changing the things that I could — myself.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
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