I don’t know a lot of people who could truly say they are indeed in charge of their lives. Most people will just say it, and maybe even believe they are in charge, when they are in fact, completely oblivious to the forces that control their lives.
This is very serious and central to our argument here. Goal setting and planning require confidence and control. If you’re not in charge, your plans will fade away in the background of your life. Taking a dream, a fantasy, turning it in to a structured project, and then proceeding to take consistent action on a timely basis until it becomes reality takes power, leadership, and focus. You can’t do that if you give your power away, if you let other people, circumstances, the government, or whatever control your life.
It’s interesting that most people don’t realize how much power they give away. A quick example: do you know when you’re mad at someone and you waste your precious mental time bad mouthing that person inside your head? That’s power you’re giving away! You’re wasting energy and “mental space” (you could be thinking about something else more constructive, instead!). When you do that, you choose to focus on the other person instead of your own goals and issues. Less power to you, more power to them! And you hate them, right?! But that’s just one common example. You give your power away whenever you deliberately choose to focus on something else instead of yourself, your responsibilities, and your goals. You also give your power away when you ask or follow advices, when you let someone else decide for you, when you refuse to make choices, when you let yourself be influenced by others, and you strive to be normal, when you betray yourself doing things you don’t want to do to please someone you don’t care about…
We share the world with other people, of course. We can’t always do what we want and sometimes we need to adapt, let go, and even do things that we don’t want to do. That’s ok, as long as we do it with integrity. The problem is when we sacrifice our own will because we feel powerless to defend ourselves.
Have you ever dealt with a very manipulative person? The kind that you just don’t know how to say no to? That’s a blatant situation when you give your power away knowingly because the other person is just too persuasive. You feel bad, you feel angry at the other person, but you’re powerless to fight back and defend your point of view, your needs, your preferences. What we don’t always realize is that this same situation happens at different levels, with people that are less persuasive or whose manipulative efforts are very subtle.
Being in charge of your life requires a good dose of assertiveness, the ability to communicate confidently your preferences and needs, and refuse to play other people’s games against your will. Before that, however, comes a strong sense of identity. If you don’t know who you are and where you’re going to, it’s easy to be manipulated by others. There’s always someone who seems to know better than you… If you follow their lead, you’re giving your power away with no guarantee of success.
Knowing yourself fuels integrity, the capacity to balance power and influence in a way that allows you to live a happy life, with a clean conscience, and a strong sense of self-awareness. You’re confident, strong, assertive, and focused. You manage the world around you with assurance and power. At this point, an interesting thing happens: people stop trying to manipulate you! When you radiate strength of character, people instinctively know they can’t mess with you. The world is yours for the taking!