Though you had no control over what happened and though it is not your fault and you never asked for it to occur - it is your responsibility to put the pieces back together and make yourself whole once more.
A few weeks ago I was asked to be on a radio show for a local station here in Maine, to talk about my work, my new book, life and whatever randomness we came up with. I was honored and agreed to do the show. The hostess asked poignant questions about my writing, my thoughts and of course about my love of coffee.
At one point we were talking about the things I write about. About how I take what I have gone through in life and use my experiences to fuel my words. When she asked about my feelings on all that I had gone through and all that I had to face during the course of my life so far, my response to her was simple - it is what it is.
It is what it is.
I have taken responsibility for my life, my actions and my reactions. I have taken responsibility for the past, the present and the future. Sounds so simple but yet when you stop and look around you, taking responsibility for anything is a foreign concept for most. No one wants to own their mistakes. No one wants to admit when they are wrong and no one wants to step up and say, "Hey yeah that was me and I will take care of it."
Not in politics, not at work and most importantly, not in our own lives.
It is within our own lives that taking personal responsibility is so important. Yet, it is one of the last things a lot of us ever do. Whether it is dealing with your past, facing addictions, leaving a loveless marriage, facing circumstances that were out of your control, or where a bad decision or a slew of bad decisions that landed you in a place you never saw coming. Never once imagining your life could end up where it has - and instead of examining all it took to get you there, you fault everyone else, throw your hands up and say, "Not my fault."
If it has to do with your life, regardless if it was outside forces initially that got you where you are today, it is totally your fault for not doing something about it now. It is your fault if you spend more time placing blame and lamenting on all that is wrong, with little to no time doing something to correct it. It is your fault if you do not take the necessary steps needed to actively heal your mind or body; to not seek help or to allow yourself to simply wallow in the unfairness of it all. Sometimes life is unfair. Sometimes something will happen and knock you to your knees. Of course you could stay down there – but do you really want to?
It is what it is.
There are so many things that happen in life that we simply just cannot control. Growing up for me was a series of events that I had zero to do with. But yet it affected every facet of my life whether I wanted it to or not. I could come up with a very solid litany of reasons why I couldn't possibly be happy, couldn't possibly go on, couldn't possibly be a well adjusted adult, and most of them would be valid reasons. But I won't. It is what it is and there is not a damn thing I can do to go back and change any of it - but I can take responsibility for my now, I can say, "Yes a lot of bad happened. Yes it helped make me who I am today. Yes it hurt and sometimes the ghosts of those memories haunt me, but I will not let them control my emotions, my life or my future." While I may not be able to take responsibility for what transpired, I damn well can take responsibility for the effects it has on my life today. Do I want to be a shrunken shell of a human? Do I want to be afraid of taking chances? Do I want to be sad and miserable and hate the world?
Ummm, no. Make that a Hell No!
I want to own my life. This means taking responsibility for it.... All of it.
Don't get me wrong here; I have made my fair share of mistakes. Typically my mistakes are pretty colossal - epic is a good word and I would like more than anything to blame them on someone else. Like when I was 16 and started smoking - after years of watching every family member I had light up, it seemed like the thing to do. It wasn't. I knew all the warnings knew all the health risks and with no one forcing that Marlboro into my mouth I still decided that lighting up was a good idea. Do I blame the smokers in my family? Nope. Because I made that choice. Have I quit yet? Nope. Whose fault is that? Mine again. Every time I fail at quitting - initially finding any excuse that seems plausible at the time (it isn't) it is my fault for giving up. Not the stress, not someone firing me up and making me angry or whatever - it was that I simply gave in and smoked another one.
Death. Divorce. Job Loss. Abuse. All are tragic events that can happen, sometimes without warning. All elicit some serious emotional and physical trauma in life. Losing a loved one can be like losing a part of your soul, the breaking up of a family can be devastating, losing your financial means is scary and recovering from any type of abuse can be earth shattering. You had no control over what happened, and it is most definitely not your fault - it is what it is. It happened. It was one of the bleakest and darkest moments of your life. And though you had no control over what happened and though it is not your fault and you never asked for it to occur - it is your responsibility to put the pieces back together and make yourself whole once more.
Is it fair, no. Is it necessary, yes. It can also be extremely empowering when you suddenly realize that you do have control, especially after feeling like you have lost all of it. Because, you do have control. You have control to pull yourself up. To face what has happened and to make peace with yourself. Sure, you may stumble and fall a few times, but don't look around for excuses. Instead pick yourself up and vow to begin anew. As many times as it takes until you get to where you want to be.
So what if you make a mistake? You are human. So what if you don't get it right the first time? You are healing. So what if you are alone and scared? You will begin to discover that you are your own best motivator when the end result is a happy and content life. You owe it to yourself to take full responsibility in getting there. No one else has that power, except for you. Harness it and do what needs doing. Stop finding excuses for all the reasons why you can't and start finding all the reasons you can. Embrace your responsibility to yourself. Own your life and all of your experiences. Dig deep; face your fears and your sadness.
If you do all of this. If you take personal responsibility for your life, I promise you, that one day your answer to a question about all you have faced in your life will be –
"It is what it is - and it did not break me."
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