by Karen Casey
Our lives reflect our thoughts and if we are not living the life we want, the choice to make it different, more peaceful perhaps, is ours. I’d like to share four of the principles I’ve adopted over the last few years for making my life more manageable, and certainly more comfortable.
Act, Don’t React
We are powerless over the behavior of others. That’s true. And we are powerless over most situations we encounter. But we are never powerless over who we will “bring to the table” in any discussion or experience. Our lives don’t need to be limited by the whims, the mean-spiritedness, the attempts to control us that we might experience from other people. Nor should we cling solely to the kindnesses we are blessed by.
Our lives are what we choose them to be. They reflect what we have decided to think which generally determines what we will say and do. We aren’t always willing to accept responsibility for this truth, but that doesn’t negate it. We are solely in charge of how much influence we give another person over our thoughts. And that’s the good news! It means our lives will change just as quickly as we become willing to discard thoughts that undermine us or restrict us in any way, and think new, more affirming ones, to replace them.
Let Others Live Their Own Lives
Getting our minds around the idea that we share our path with people who need to be present in our lives for the give and take that’s natural in a relationship makes it easier to give up the perception that others are waiting for us to tell them what their behavior or decisions need to be. When we have become willing to embrace the idea that we each have a purpose, a quite specific journey, and it never includes being in charge of someone else; we will be able to appreciate the rhythm of our life, knowing it’s unique to who we need to be and what we need to accomplish.
A huge burden is lifted when we become willing to let others walk their own path, learn their own lessons, embrace their own journey. We simply cannot do justice to our own if we are overly intent on helping someone else live theirs.
Give Up Judgmental Attitudes
Coming to grips with the idea that our judgments reflect what we actually think of ourselves is very humbling and often strongly resisted. And they seldom very accurately describe the person we are being critical of. Our personal insecurities, our fears and feelings of separation from others, generally inspire our judgments. We don’t want someone else to “get ahead” in any way so we attempt to make them lesser beings, the very beings we suspect we actually are.
Our resistance to seeing our companions as they actually are or hearing the messages they are attempting to offer makes it quite impossible for us to garner the information we need for the next important stage of our own journey. We are participants on the dance floor of life. Getting out of step with the music is by choice. Fortunately, we can always choose to hear the song again.
Let Go of Outcomes
Giving up our focus on outcome doesn’t mean our work is complete, of course. We still have responsibility for whatever effort is ours to make. And the effort we make is directly tied to the mind set we have cultivated. Everything we do in this life comes back to the mind. As we think, so we do. The blessing in this is that giving up our focus on outcomes means giving up our focus on what we think others should be doing.
The relief that comes with giving up our attempts to control people, places and things cannot be exaggerated. It’s a profound experience and it must be felt to be truly appreciated. The burden we had saddled ourselves with for so long can be laid aside. All that stands in the way is the decision to do so. And all that stands in the way of making the decision is our unwillingness to change our minds.
These relationships, both fleeting and significant, embody the opportunities we are being offered right here, right now, for lives that will exceed our fondest expectations. Is it time for a change of mind?
Karen Casey is a writer and workshop facilitator for 12-step recovery. Her first book, Each Day a New Beginning, has sold more than 3 million copies. She has published 28 books since then including Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow, which was a finalist for the MS Society Books for a Better Life Awards. She has traveled throughout North America and Europe carrying her message of hope for others on the road to recovery.
Other Titles by Karen Casey
- 52 Ways to Live the Course in Miracles (Coming October 2016!)
- Living Long, Living Passionately
- The Good Stuff from Growing Up in a Dysfuntional Family
- Getting Unstuck
- Let Go Now