“When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.” — Maya Angelou
Do you believe you have the power to influence your life? Or do you consider yourself dragged along by life’s forces? This is an important question because your beliefs will dictate how your life plays out. For instance, I was talking with a friend recently who mentioned how they’ve never made a conscious choice about the direction of their life. They were merely showing up every day hoping life plays out in their favour. What struck me about the conversation is that many people are convinced they are powerless to create their life circumstances, preferring to leave it to chance. That is, they have not learned how to consciously create ideal conditions for their life. Similarly, many consider life is separate to them and that irrespective of their choices, things don’t always work out as planned. I find this interesting because it highlights the power of our beliefs.
Our greatest mistake is to believe we are powerless and without choices. This may be attributed to the thought that life happens to us, instead of expressing itself through us. This is the message espoused by the transformational thinker and philosopher Alex Pattakos who writes in Prisoners of Our Thoughts: Viktor Frankl’s Principles for Discovering Meaning in Life and Work: “By viewing ourselves as relatively powerless and driven by instinct, the possibility that we can create, or at least co-create, our own reality becomes difficult to grasp. Instead, we often lock ourselves inside our own mental prisons. We lose sight of our own natural potential and that of others. In essence, we become prisoners of our thoughts.” Granted, in some respects we may be powerless and with little control over aspects of our lives such as our birth and death. Putting that aside, there’s a great deal we have control over and it is incumbent on us to cultivate this power through informed choices.
How do you feel about this? Do you believe your choices decide your future? Or are you inclined to believe that you never get what you wish for and there’s no use trying? Our beliefs create the canvas of our life because they influence our actions and whether we create life on our terms. Despite this, life is not a game of poker where we roll the dice and hope for the best. Sure, sometimes we have no control over our destiny such as the death of an individual through illness or tragic circumstances. For the large part and barring unforeseen events, we are never as powerless as we think. These are thoughts we have given life to and found evidence to support. But what if we challenge our beliefs and create new ways to perceive them? What if we upgraded our model of reality to coincide with the life we want to live?
Contemplate Our True Desires
“The deep root of failure in our lives is to think, ‘Oh how useless and powerless I am.’ It is essential to think strongly and forcefully, ‘I can do it,’ without boasting or fretting.” — Dalai Lama
One of my favourite past times is engaging in daydreaming. I daydream often and conjure up the most elaborate circumstances related to areas of my life. The power of daydreaming allows us to test the waters of our thoughts before they become a reality. Daydreaming is a whiteboard for the mind where we get to create anything we want to before it comes to life. Is this something you’ve tried before? Using your mind’s faculty to shape your future is one way to reclaim your power because it allows you to fine tune the image in your mind before it shows up in your reality. It is the alternative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra who once said: “Daydream, imagine, and reflect. It’s the source of infinite creativity.” Daydreaming allows us to compose our future in innumerable dimensions. It is a wonderful process that engages our emotions and draws on physiological responses in the body to what is held in the mind. Therefore, our body gives us clues on the truthfulness of our daydreams and whether they are something worth pursuing.
Even if you don’t daydream, to believe you are powerless and without choices is an error in thinking and something that must be attended to. If we are not living the life we envisaged, it may be related to self-doubt which is within our power to change. Let’s be real, not all of our choices will work out as we plan and that’s okay. Failure and setbacks may be life’s way of giving us signs whether our endeavours are aligned with our greater good. If we want to make optimal choices, it pays that we spend time quietly to contemplate our true desires. Life passes us by at the drop of a hat and if we are constantly reacting to outside events, we miss out on the vital clues pointing us to the life we dare to live. So make it your obligation to devote time to yourself and get to know your true desires and why they are important to you. Only then will you create a life you are destined to live.
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