Who is steering your life? You may check in with yourself and get the answer; “my husband,” “my wife,” “my mother,” “my father,” “my boss,” or “the economy,” which would be understandable responses. Think about what happens to you when you believe that thought, “So and so, is running my life.” Take a moment, what do you notice? Is there anger, fear, resentment, sadness? It hurts to believe that someone else is in charge of your life. I say that it “hurts to believe that” because it’s not actually possible for someone to make decisions for you or control how you react to situations. Byron Katie told me recently, “my husband may ask me to open the door, but it’s only ever me who opens it or not. It’s not possible for him to push me or force me to do anything.” The pushing or forcing comes entirely from within.
But like Hansel and Gretel, leaving breadcrumbs in the forest, our hearts are similar, getting lost in the thick woods and wanting to be found. We can trace our mind’s stories back to our own self-empowerment. So who is it that you think is running your life? Ok, it’s your________. Let’s say “significant other.” Think of a specific moment in time that you felt they were running your life. Do you see it? Get still and clear with yourself. Where where you? Can you see their face? Hear what they were saying to you. Take out a piece of paper and write down everything you were thinking in that moment about that situation. We’re getting at your beliefs here, what would happen if you were to do what you really want (really let yourself write it ALL out). It might sound something like this-“If I don’t do what he/she says, they’ll leave me,” “they won’t love me anymore,” “we’ll break up and I’ll lose my____, I’ll have to start my life over again.”
When we believe someone is running our lives, in that moment our primary inner voice is small. It’s the voice of a frightened child (and don’t worry we all have inner children, it’s beautiful, natural, and the way of it). Perhaps you got angry at the person that you felt was controlling your life or “trying to.” That angry reaction is a part of you trying to protect your inner vulnerability- aka: that frightened inner child. Here we are entering the inner world, the world behind the scenes. This is world that we heal and make friends with, it’s the place where any confusion we might experience lives and it’s also the source of all goodness. The inner characters you might meet along this journey are your inner perfectionist, the people pleaser, the inner critic, the pusher/achiever, the good girl/good boy, and the frightened child- amongst many others.
So who inside you told you that if you didn’t do what the other person wants then ____ will happen? Even if the person outside of you agreed-“yes, if you don’t do what I want____ will happen,” who inside you believes them? Who is afraid? “They” don’t need to have a name (ultimately it’s just a part of you), what’s important is that you get in touch with that energy, that feeling that arises in that moment. I’ve become intimately familiar with the somatic and emotional feelings associated with an inner critic attack, with a frightened inner child, with the thoughts of the perfectionist. All of these cues are like a temple bell ringing, alerting me that I need my own attention and loving care. This is why therapists talk about “positive self-talk.” This is what this is getting at, but it’s just the beginning of a beautiful relationship with yourself (and when your relationship with yourself is beautiful, so is your relationship with the world.)
Everything we do in life is for a reason. It’s been about the cost-benefit ratio. You can have compassion for yourself. You believed that if you didn’t do what the other person wanted a bad situation would happen, and you very sanely chose what you thought would be best for you; what you thought would make you happy. You may have avoided some bad situations that way and you may have mistakenly thought you needed something to go a certain way.
Ultimately, fear is the mode that runs your life when you believe that someone else is in charge. Really, what’s happening is that there are parts of you that are afraid and they’re trying to do their best to take care of you. And it’s like no one is minding the store. And really, we’re not so clear or sane when we’re afraid. We marry people who aren’t good matches, we take jobs that will make us sick, we neglect ourselves in someway to focus on controlling some external situation. In this inner dive within; to inquire, and get curious, this is where self-love, peace, joy and emotional freedom begins.
So forgive yourself for thinking that someone else was running your life, we’re taught to think like that. It’s because the world acts a lot out of fear. Forgive yourself for not following your heart as clearly as you would have liked. This moment is a good moment. It’s an excellent place to start. Take some deep breaths. Rest your hand on your heart and just feel the sensations of your body, all supporting you.
I’ve found inner joy and peace through this work and it’s a living process. Within the world of therapy some people call it Voice Dialogue, Internal Family Systems, Parts of Self work, or Transactional Analysis. These are not new ideas but they are life changing. If this journey interests you, I can partner with you to help you find self-love and support you to find fulfillment in your life. Contact me at (650)-762-5284 or via www.freeheartfreelife.com