Being Responsible and the Things You Can't Control
Once upon a time, I had a best friend I was really close to. We had some good times and a lot of good memories—she was even in my wedding. It wasn't until a couple of things happened that I realized our relationship was toxic, and I needed to remove her from my life.
First thing that happened: I was maturing pretty quickly. Long story short: my childhood wasn't the best. I moved out of a bad environment and into a much better one during my late teens, but was very emotionally/mentally immature around that time (emotional/mental growth is stunted in toxic environments). So, when I moved into the better environment, I grew up pretty fast, learning very quickly what it meant to be an adult. I started outgrowing our relationship that was OK for an immature me, but unhealthy for a maturing, responsible adult.
Second thing that happened: She was diagnosed with an immune disorder. It was something she had her whole life, but finally there was a name to go with the reason she became sick so easily. It wasn't immediately life-threatening, as long as she was treated on a monthly basis, kept a healthy lifestyle and it didn't go unchecked.
The diagnosis wasn't the issue, it was the victim mentality that came with it. I tried my best to be very supportive during such a trying experience, but I started to notice how she was less interested in solving the problem, and more interested in just complaining about it. Our phone calls were less about us, and more about her problems. I would try and provide solutions, but met a brick wall every time. It was almost as if we spoke different languages. Then, the phone calls were less frequent. Then they were virtually nonexistent—she only called when she wanted something.
It wasn't until she asked me to participate in her wedding—to a man she made no effort to introduce me to—that I realized she wasn't the person I once called "friend". I ended the toxic relationship. To this day, I don't regret that decision.
The point of the story is I think at some point or another, we've all met this type of person:
You know the type. They're rarely happy, and never try to solve the problem or make the situation better. All of the bad stuff in their life is someone else's fault and the only solution is complaining about it. If you pose solutions, or ask them to reflect on the situation, they may brush you off or even get angry. They refuse to take responsibility for themselves or the situation they're in, much less try to make it better.
Throughout my life I've noticed a correlation between personal responsibility & happiness, and personal victimhood & sadness.
On the other side of the coin, I know some pretty happy people who've been through hell and live to tell the tale:
Amazingly enough, they're usually pretty positive despite their current or past major life issues/traumas. Their charisma? Infectious. They're responsible adults who still maintain an ability to lighten up and have fun. They often times fit well into a leadership role, because they inspire those around them with their sincerity and positive nature. They own up to their life choices, are quick to apologize and even quicker to call "BS" in a situation.
But what about the things in life we can't control? How can we keep a "responsible" mentality when things happen that are completely beyond our control?
The answer lies in how we choose to react to those times. We may not always have a choice in dodging what life throws at us, but we ALWAYS have the capacity to chose how we react to those events. Will I play the blame game, or will I try to solve the problem? Will I fall into that oh-so-easy trap of feeling sorry for myself, or will I try to overcome the situation?
Life crises aside, everything else is within our control. One may not have chosen to go into poverty, but they choose to stay there by making bad monetary choices. One may not have chosen to be abused by their spouse, but they choose to stay married every day. One may not have chosen to be a diabetic, but they choose to make poor life choices that put additional strain on their health.
The happy people in life understand that there are always things beyond their control; but they also understand and embrace the fact they're the walking-talking, living-breathing consequences of the actions and decisions they make every single day. They own up to their problems because they're not afraid to admit they're wrong. They don't make the mistakes victims make and hide behind their blame-games or pity-parties.
They rise above it. Because in the end, we've only got one shot at life. Are we going to seize it, or waste our time feeling sorry for ourselves?