How do I take charge of my life?
Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
I can only speak for myself. The first questions are whether I want to take charge of my life and how? I decided at some point in my youth that I needed to live without internal conflicts since they were what brought the greatest malaise to my life. One of the first things that I learnt was to perceive that I was responsible for my life. It is not that easy, since we all tend to believe that the people and events that surround us are more responsible than we are for what we feel and how we live. We seek external culprits and this leads us to perceive ourselves as being dependent and fragile, as well as being crushed by circumstances. So when you decide to get rid of the habit of seeking external culprits, you feel different; responsible for your own situation, free to change your attitude to life and also solitary. Not an unpleasant solitude, but a solitude that is linked to inner freedom. I am the only one who is responsible for my life, I am alone with it and what happens to me depends to a great extent on me. It is really about a gentle contentment, because now things depend on me.
Another point is to get to know myself better. When I do not know why I feel how I feel, think how I think and act how I act, I am not free. I am a slave of circumstance, I just react, like a puppet, to the stimuli I encounter.
I react based on what I fear will happen to me. So it is necessary to know what drives me, and this is nearly always fear and the habits that I have acquired in the face of the precedents that have created the fear in me. If I do not make an effort to gain self-knowledge, my life remains incomplete, because I do not see clearly whatto do in order to change my attitude, my perception of myself and my behaviour. Getting to know yourself is not saying “I’m like this”, since this only speaks to my reactions. I only see the surface of who I am and this narrow focus will not let me see below the surface.
Another matter of vital importance, and which is linked to the others (there is nothing separate within you) is to realise that you are always defending yourself, fighting against something or someone and sometimes that someone is yourself.
This might be encapsulated in an attitude of denying facts. The facts may be aspects of myself, circumstances in my life, the behaviour of others, etc. In short, I am never satisfiedwith the facts; myself, others, society and external circumstances in general. For example, if I go to make a meal and I only have three ingredients, I may accept it or I may complain that I do not have any more and then do things with an ill grace, blaming it on my circumstances and denying the facts.
I am talking about my attitude and not what worries me about what I have to cope with. If I am a student and there is something that I do not understand, I can find a way to understand it or I can spend my life complaining that the teacher does not explain things well, or that I am not very intelligent. That is not going to help me, it is only going to make my life difficult. The fact is that I do not understand and I need to understand, so the best thing is to find a solution and not things to blame.
Taking charge of your life in this way requires you to treat yourself seriously, honestly, with affection and with patience. No doubt when you learnt to read and write you did not do it from the very first day.
It took you quite a while, but ultimately you are reading these lines because you had the dedication and patience. Even if you did it because others made the decision for you, now you can decide, if you want, what to do with your life and to learn to read and re-write your life in a sense of peace and personal responsibility. It will take you a while, but what better thing can you do than to make your own way in life?
And do not forget that the step you take in this moment is the only thing that exists.
The decision is always in the present moment, there are no decisions in the future, only in the present.
That is fact, the other things are just chimeras.