Who's in charge here?
Are you the authority in your life?
Have you thought about it? Do you FEEL like the authority in your life?
If not, who is?
…are you happy with that?
Let’s start with what having authority means (per the almighty Google, or course).
Authority: power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior
the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct
or control someone or something.
It’s an interesting question to ask ourselves. Do we direct our lives or are we directed by it? Most of us would say we don’t willingly give away power over ourselves and yet there are times we feel powerless. We allow others to make decisions for us, often due to our desire to people please or avoid conflict.
It has become second nature (or how we are socialized), so it’s possible that we don’t even see it as a conscious decision. But whether it’s conscious or not, it can lead to resentment or overwhelm.
Before we get too upset, let's look at authority not as a power struggle, but as a function of being the author of our lives,
Instead of just control, let’s look at creation.
If our lives are a painting, are we thoughtfully applying paint to our canvas in a way that reflects what we want it to be, or are we letting everyone who walks by throw some paint on it and give the canvas a spin? True, that would make a great TikTok video but it is less great as a way to live our lives, at the whim of others.
So how DO we make sure we have authority in our lives? (Good news, we are creating our lives right now.)
If you want it to be the life you WANT, we need to look at 2 components:
1. Intentional goal creation
These are the things we decide to do: becoming a nurse, choosing your job, participation in hobbies, building and maintaining relationships.
2. Response to the involuntary components of our lives
These are the things we don’t pick for ourselves: health issues of family or friends, our genetics (lol), how or where we were raised, how our children act despite our best efforts (mine are angels, of course).
Now, to be clear there are things that don’t belong in the second component even if we feel we don’t create them.
Staying in the job we are in
Driving our kids all over the world
Participating in the health care of a parent or loved one
Your first instinct may be to argue that these aren’t things you create, things that you choose. But it is this very belief that it is “happening to us” that causes resentment.
It’s what creates powerlessness. It gives your authority away.
We choose how much to work and what to spend our money on (even if that choice is to spend it on healthcare for our children or to fix our car for the 3rd time this year).
We choose to stay in the job we are in, have you asked yourself why? You might be surprised by the reasons that come up.
We opt for our kids to participate in things that require a ride and we choose to be that ride.
We decide to be the person who drives grandma to her appointments, to wait in hospital rooms, to help make decisions.
These are the facts. We don’t HAVE to do any of these things but we choose to because it is the person we want to be. If it isn’t because you want to be the person that does them, take a hard look at whether or not you want to keep doing it. Who is creating the painting here?
So, if we are choosing this, how can we feel better about it?
How do we take ownership of what we have created thus far and how do we actively create a life that we want?
How do we make sure that we are the intentional authors of our lives and not just following some psychotic twist-a-plot, choose-your-own-adventure book?
1. Give yourself credit for all the things you have already done. For many of us, we may have initially followed a script that was offered to us. Go to college, get a degree, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids. Maybe that script worked out great for you, maybe it didn’t, maybe it was 50/50. Either way, you created the path to where you are now.
2. Decide with intention what you WANT to be creating in your life.
Have you thought of this?
What do you WANT your life to look like today,
3 years from now,
10 years from now?
What’s tricky here is that this works best from a place of gratitude and not a graspy need to be better. We don’t need to change anything (but it can be fun to). Wherever we end up is still going to have its highs and lows, its pros and cons. That is one thing that is 100% guaranteed. The difference is you decided ahead of time what direction you were going to take.
Take a small step to start creating that life. Set the GPS for the destination you want and then START DRIVING.
Expect that there are times that getting through the moment you are in is all you will be able to do and that’s fine. Getting through CAN be what you are creating. Can you get through the hard times with self compassion and patience? Can you cut yourself some slack? Can you create space for yourself to breathe?
The moral of the story: being intentional feels better than being reactionary. Spend some time on your way home from work today, or while you are in the shower or working out, to think about what you WANT in your life. Write it down (after you get out of the shower or stop driving).
No one else has the authority to create your life unless you give it to them.
Don’t give it to them.
You are your own work of art.
P.S. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to stop people-pleasing and stand in your own authority. I can help you deal with it once and for all and create a life that you truly love. Reach out to schedule a consult call today.