If only my marriage had worked, I’d be so much happier.
If only I could lose some weight, I’d look so much better.
If only I had this work-from-home scene sorted, I’d be better off financially.
If only my kid listened to me more often, I’d be a more peaceful parent.
If only I could manage my time better and not procrastinate, I’d be in a much better spot right now.
Excuses. Plenty of them.
We all make them, all the time.
Sometimes consciously and many times unconsciously, without even noticing them.
Conveniently blaming other people, timing, circumstances, our destiny and sometimes even ourselves.
In an effort to make reality more tolerable, while shifting blame to everything and everyone else, I’d often put my habits and personality traits in line of fire.
But did it do any good?
Did it bring any positive outcome?
And best of all, until recently, I never even noticed that I was doing any of this.
That is blaming others for my misery, failures and unhappiness.
I stumbled upon this realization when I had had enough of wallowing in self-pity.
When I decided to take a real hard look at my life to understand why I felt so powerless, so hopeless.
I felt my life wasn’t my own because everyone but me was controlling it.
I was dependent on other people’s behaviour for the circumstances in my life.
I was waiting for the time to be right.
I was counting on my destiny choosing to grant me my wishes.
Blaming others simply meant they were in control of what happened to me, how I felt and if ever I would be able to feel happy or fulfilled.
How do you reclaim your power?
This level of self-awareness didn’t come easy.
When I believed that there is a place out there in the future that will be better than this moment right now, it left me feeling desperate, needy, hungry to get to that point.
I was no longer appreciating my present. I was rather resentful of what I had because I had convinced myself that all the peace and happiness resided somewhere else.
With others. With the future. With an altogether different me.
An effort to control, to get a hold on my life and the world around me would leave me gasping for breath, tired and exhausted.
When I had had enough of negativity, anger, frustration and spells of depression in my life, I knew what I was doing wasn’t working.
I had to do something different.
It came to me in the form of an understanding that if I needed to change my life, I had to proactively take back control of my life.
I had to take up the responsibility that my life was my own and all that happened to me was my responsibility.
Self-responsibility sounds empowering, kind of attractive.
Bubbling with freedom.
But what did it entail?
“Self-responsibility means that I free everything and everyone from the blame of having caused anything to me or my life.
I take full responsibility of my life.”
Did that mean that my divorce was my responsibility?
Did that mean that whatever happens to me is solely my responsibility?
Did it mean I could no longer blame my kid or the timing or the circumstances or lack of opportunity for any of my failures?
It was a bitter pill to swallow that my mind blatantly refused to.
At least in the start.
No matter how much I meditated (or rather tried to) it didn’t feel do-able.
It was while working on my anger and yelling-at-my-kid issues that something struck me.
If I blamed my child for not being able to handle my emotions, I was being utterly unfair.
I was the adult in this situation.
I ought to be in better control of my emotions and feelings.
I ought to be the one leading the way and not the other way around.
That meant I needed to take RESPONSIBILITY for my actions.
Though we can’t deep dive into it without addressing an integral part of the process of taking responsibility: Making Decisions.
Deciding what I wanted my life to be.
Deciding about who and what I will spend my time with.
Deciding what I believe in.
Deciding what I’ll say no to.
Deciding how I wanted to feel.
And this requires lot of reflection and making up your mind. Responsibly.
But once you start making decisions, it frees up your mind, your time from the constant doubt and dilly-dallying.
“Where we generate our power is in the decisions that we make.”
I decided to act emotionally mature.
I decided to generate my power from within, doing my work from within.
That was the starting point.
“When we continue to make excuses and blame others, we are giving our power away.”
From then on, taking responsibility for everything, literally, EVERYTHING part of my existence has become a daily practice for me.
I took responsibility for the outcome of my marriage.
I took responsibility for my financial well-being.
I took responsibility for my feelings towards my family and friends.
I took responsibility for my mental health.
I took responsibility for my physical health.
And that’s how I decided to go ahead and change everything part of my life that wasn’t serving me.
It was very painful, to begin with.
And it was not a one-time process.
You got to do this over and over.
Though it doesn’t get easier with time, you do get efficient with practice.
My mind would keep reverting to the old ways of trying to find comfort by pointing a finger at everyone and everything other than me, each time I failed.
My mind would say, things happened to me. I had no control over life.
I had to behave like a parent of a toddler, to teach my mind to take baby steps on my way of self-responsibility.
What changes did I notice with this mindset shift?
With every decision I took, I felt a surge of power fill me up.
I was getting clear on what I wanted to do, so taking action was easier.
I was more aware of where I was heading in my life and my relationships.
I started consciously choosing thoughts that weren’t victimy or judgemental.
I stopped feeling sorry for my self.
I started spring cleaning the clutter from my mind, relationships and my surroundings.
“I felt powerful in the fact that for the first time ever I knew my stand in life.”
I was clearing up my mind space by choosing my battles wisely.
I had learnt to define my boundaries.
The big hurdles in a woman’s path to taking ownership of her life:
A Victim Mentality
A victim mentality is a belief system that everything that happens to us is because of someone else, something out of our control.
It encourages us to go on a blaming spree, belive we’re powerless, simply sit back, pout and engage in a pity party.
As women it is often in our nature to take up every responsibility we can spot in our life. Doing whatever it takes to be a great daughter, mom, wife, employee, and then some.
Working non-stop 24*7, doing all things on our own (seldom seeking help) leads to one thing – exhaustion. Constant fatigue is one of the key reasons women feel too tired to take ownership of their own lives or have time for self-care.
Not taking action simply waiting for the right time is one the leading causes of us not taking the reigns of our life in our own hands.
Sometimes we act complacent and on others keep waiting for the right time and opportunity till we realise we’ve simply been wasting time when all we needed to do was to start taking baby steps.
Lack of self-worth and self-love
Every time I decided I would invest the time and effort it needed to let me achieve my goals, my mind would call me selfish.
I felt as if I was taking away the time, I could be investing in my family.
Every time I would decide to make an hour for daily workout, I’d feel as if I was being selfish by not continuing to spend that time doing daily chores or working.
When I wanted to say no I was often pressed to oblige because ‘girls don’t say blatant NO.‘
Taking self-responsibility calls for a sense of self-love.
I survived this web of self-entrapment by learning to believe.
I am worthy.
I am enough.
These are non-negotiables.
They are universal truths because I was gifted this life for a reason.
I am worthy and I am enough from the day I was born.
These beliefs gifted me the understanding that my self-worth was independent of my past experiences, my present commitments and also of where I was headed in life.
I had to learn to believe in my own power to be able to feel empowered.
I had to learn to be by my own side without judgement, come what may to feel empowered.
I had to learn to love myself for who I am, as I am, unconditionally, to feel empowered.
These beliefs aren’t freely imparted to women.
I was no exception.
That’s why I made it my daily meditation to repeat to myself that I was worthy and enough.
I made my life’s mission to take responsibility for every choice I make, henceforth.
I choose to keep my power with myself.
How did self-responsibility impact my well-being?
How do you want to believe about yourself because how you think about yourself is how you’re going to feel about yourself.
Our feelings about ourselves are impacted by our thoughts.
If you choose to think positive thoughts about yourself (mind you, you got to do this deliberately), you gradually see that you begin to feel good about everything you do.
Feeling good about myself, encouraged me to begin taking better care of myself.
I was conscious about making healthier choices because I wanted to take good care of myself.
My sleep improved when I deliberately started choosing taking rest over the FOMO (fear of missing out) of social media.
I went ahead and cut short the time I spent watching TV (rather mindlessly) in name of relaxing to get proper 8-hour sleep.
These small steps gradually snowballed into my successful weight loss journey.
It wasn’t a diet plan or an exercise regimen or what I eat that brought about the transformation in my physical and mental health.
It was a shift in my beliefs and core values.
It was my decision to take RESPONSIBILITY for my life.
Fully and whole-heartedly.
It was taking OWNERSHIP of my well-being and choosing to be who I need to make my life feel good.
What about self-care and self-love feeling selfish?
The word selfish is defined as:
devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
When you are choosing to take care of yourself and in the process taking back your time and effort you had been giving away you are NOT taking anything away from others.
You are only taking back what belongs to you.
It is only when you are only thinking about yourself and taking from other people at their expense to satisfy your own whims that you are being selfish.
But the way that it is defined and the way that many of us have been taught is that, if we don’t put others first, then we’re somehow being selfish.
And this has been my experience.
When I take care of myself first, when I’m really clear about what I want to do and what I don’t want to do and I set proper boundaries and I show up from authenticity instead of an obligation, I have twice as much energy.
I feel empowered.
I feel in control of my life.
I feel energised to go and do more for others from a place of abundance.
There’s no resentment in the giving.
I have plenty to give because I’ve taken good care of myself first.
This comes from choosing to take self-responsibility.
A place that fills me with the feeling of being in control.
Of being in ownership of my life.
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The song on my mind: Kuch to hua hai ~ Kal Ho Na Ho