“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk our own path.” — Buddhaint Teresa of Calcutta
The other day, I had a conversation with a friend of mine that gave me goosebumps.
She is someone who, by all accounts, is super successful. On the outside, she looks like she has everything going in her favor, but on the inside, she has been struggling to add some order, simplicity and sanity into her life.
When you have a lot going on—when your life is charging full-speed ahead—it’s often hard to step back and figure out what you can drop, if anything. It’s tough to even think about dropping something when everything appears so great to everyone else on the outside.
My friend told me that she knew in her heart that she wanted to make a change to her life, but that she she was nervous about speaking up and actually going after it. For her, this involved having a conversation with her boss about shifting how she worked.
My friend and I were talking through everything—the pros and cons of making the change, how her boss might react, all the different scenarios and how they might play out. She was admittedly anxious about trying to ask for what she wanted, even though deep down she felt clarity.
Long story short, she went into her boss and declared what she wanted, even though she was shaking on the inside. Lo and behold, her boss listened, heard her, and agreed to make adjustments to her work arrangement.
I asked her how she felt at the precise moment she got what she wanted and her answer gave me chills. She said “I feel in charge.”
“Never in my whole life have I felt in charge,” she continued, “Now, I do. I feel calm, centered, confident and at peace. I feel like I could run for miles, and I don’t even run!”
I thought a lot about that concept of feeling in charge after our conversation. I thought about the fact that my friend (who is in her 50s) has never felt in charge of her life before now. Her words really made me take stock.
I asked myself, “Do I feel in charge? What does feeling in charge actually feel like, anyway?”
The truth is, I think it’s hard to feel totally in charge of your life when you have many competing responsibilities tugging at you. Those might include caring for kids, caring for parents, paying the bills, climbing a professional ladder, etc. It’s a lot.
Many of us are good at projecting the image that we’ve got it all under control, when the reality is that we feel like we’re treading water and losing control. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s awful.
So how did my friend go from doubt to clarity? How did she move from fear to certainty? From anxiety to calm?
First, she said she spent some time thinking about her life and about what was working and what wasn’t. Then, she started thinking about what really mattered to her and she came she to realize that she wasn’t focused or spending the time on what matters to her.
That scared her, so she started imagining a different schedule. She started feeling her way into what she thought a simpler life would feel like. She talked it through with someone she trusted, and then she spoke up.
In speaking up—in feeling heard and understood—she felt like she was able to move forward with more control and thoughtfulness about her future.
It turns out that she wanted to feel like she knew what she was doing and could ask for small changes that would bring big rewards. At the end of the day, I’ve learned that feeling in charge isn’t about being the boss. It’s about knowing yourself and knowing what brings you the feeling of calm, centeredness and clarity in your life. Knowing your self and speaking up for yourself brings confidence. How you live your life is in your control. Most of us think it’s not, but it is.
So, if you are feeling like there is nothing you can do to put order to the chaos of your life, then just step back and imagine your life with the calm, peace, space and stillness you desire. Speak up and ask for what you feel you need. You just might be shocked by the response you get.
Dear God, please help me remember to value and appreciate the life you have given me and make the most of it. Whenever I feel lost or out of control, help me come back to myself and remember that you’ve given me all I need to move forward. Amen.
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