Owning your life sounds like something everyone innately does – but you would be surprised by how many people actually never get to this point.
To truly take ownership of one’s life means that you stop making excuses.
When you complain the only thing you are really saying is that you are not in control of your own life.
And yet to a very large degree we are.
I can choose today to get up and go to work, thus keeping my job, continuing to help kids, earning a paycheck that keeps my family fed and clothed, and basically contributing to society as best I know how.
Or I can choose to go out and rob a bank.
Or go throw eggs at my neighbors houses.
Or run around the park in a tutu, singing songs.
I can choose any manner of activity because I AM IN CONTROL.
If you are a codependent you tend to have a problem with ownership because you have given your power over to someone else – usually the addict.
You wait to see what they will do and then you react to it. You are acutely aware of their every mood, need, breath, and you revolve your life around them. In essence, they decide what you will do with your life.
The reason we tolerate this – at least for me – wasn’t because of some deep love for the addict. I did want to save him with every ounce of my being, but the deeper truth revealed that I was terrified of taking ownership of my own life. I was terrified of failing.
I grew up in France, where there is a right way to do things and a wrong way. In school you are taught to color in the lines, write beautiful cursive, organize and think in a logical manner, and eat your entire meal.
You are called out when you step out of these expected norms. You follow fashion, wearing the current style (even if it’s knock-offs, we could never afford the brand names) and do your best to follow all the social norms.
I didn’t like being called out, so I learned early on to keep my mouth shut and fly below the radar.
I was amazed at people who had no problem speaking their mind and taking up lots of space in life. For whatever reason, I felt the need to please on a deep level and so the worst thing for me was people’s disapproval. I would do most anything to avoid it.
This ends up giving a lot of power to those whose approval I sought.
Basically I would go from one person to another my whole life, saying “Do you approve? How am I doing? Do you like me?”, placing one person after another into the judge’s seat and granting them the power of issuing a verdict over me. Why? Why did I let them decide?
Because I never learned to be my own judge. I never approved of myself.
When you live without a strong sense of self, you are a prime target for those who need control. They will see your ambivalence, they will see your kindness and your ability to be flexible and to give as an opportunity to meet their need.
Whatever you will give of yourself, they will take. And when you hesitate they will press in even harder and you will cave. They will slowly, day by day, experience by experience, erase you completely and take over.
And the reason I allowed this was because I had no foundation. I didn’t own myself, so what my controller claimed about me was just as valid as what anyone else would say. Even myself. So I accepted it.
Again, on some deeper level I didn’t want to have to be responsible for myself. I didn’t want to be held accountable.
I reacted to the painful experiences others brought into my life, and those became my excuses about why my decisions were messed up.
At the core of my inability to own myself was the fear of failure. If I took responsibility and then failed at something – it was 100% my own fault. I needed to own the good and the bad. The successes and the failures.
This seemed way too risky. I believed that if I failed then I was a failure. This fixed mindset left me paralyzed.
But if I didn’t try anything on my own there was no risk of failing, thus no risk of being a failure.
I could chalk up the negative experiences in my life as the unfortunate circumstances brought on by someone else. But it wasn’t MY doing. I could sleep at night knowing that I didn’t fail.
“You can never win or lose if you don’t run the race” – name that 80’s song! But it’s so true.
In my own mind I wasn’t losing. But I would never win either.
Turns out I had to lose BIG TIME in order to be humbled enough to get over my fear of failure. I lost my marriage. I lost the ideal I had been trying so hard to maintain. I lost financial dignity, my social status, my illusion of being part of a couple.
I had to experience the black spot of divorce in a church environment to thoroughly break me of my unwillingness to take ownership of my own self and my own life. At the time it felt like a crash course in independence.
Like going from being tied to a chair to suddenly free falling through the air.
Complete restriction to complete freedom.
It was terrifying for me. I had no idea how to do this.
But life has a beautiful way of refusing to let you stay stuck if it finds in you even a spark of true desire for more. It will take that spark and work it into a flame everytime.
So my anguish at being tied in the chair signaled that I wanted more. I was ready to pay the price.
And it hurt, and it was scary, and I made MANY mistakes in the process. But if I can learn in my 30s how to take ownership of myself, how to stop fearing failure (part of life people, can’t avoid it!) and how to focus on growth… If I can do these things – ANYONE CAN!
I kept my eyes on my Creator, the author of life – I figured He probably knew some things about it that I didn’t. Love became the focus – not fear.
I learned self-love, self-respect, self-worth.
I learned to accept my failures and move on – letting them go. I wouldn’t beat myself up over a mistake, I would simply acknowledge it, chalk it up to learning, and keep my eyes on my Teacher.
Slowly but surely I became my own. He gave me permission to be. Fully. Me.
And He loved me every step of the way – mistakes, failures and all.
Life becomes an adventure when you no longer spend it trying to appease and please others. Now I wake up excited to see what each day will bring and what I will choose to do with it.
Because now I am not his, not theirs, not anyone’s but Gods and He gives me full permission and blessing to be myself.
So I am now fully mine.
Owning yourself, your life and all your decisions may seem daunting but it is the first and most important step to an authentic and fulfilling life.
Stop living someone else’s life! Become YOURS.
And be blessed as you pursue your freedom!