It’s not easy being happy when you’re not in control
The basis for happiness is having control over your own existence.
This is a simple and obvious statement, yet who among us has not ceded such control before? To assume responsibility for our lives can be a struggle, often it’s easier just to let outside forces take over.
So the smoker has another cigarette, the alcoholic has another drink or the drug addict takes another hit because “it’s an addiction and I have to”. The obsessed lover allows their emotions to be controlled by someone who may not even care for them in return. And the bully victim lets others make him do things he doesn’t want to.
Opportunities to allow outside forces to take control of our lives are everywhere. Other people, circumstances, and even our own bodies and emotions can make demands upon us that we may find almost impossible not to comply with. These forces are usually indifferent to our happiness, and may even be downright hostile towards it.
If you allow these forces to take control over you, finding happiness will be very difficult. Ultimately, each of is responsible for our own well-being. If we expect forces outside of ourselves to take care of us, we’re likely to be very disappointed.
Here are some influences that many people let take control over their lives:
- Disapproval of others
- Desire for love
Once we give up command over some aspect of our life to an outside force, it can be very difficult to get it back again. It’s not impossible, however.
The first step to regaining control is to admit to yourself that you’ve lost it.
For example, one of the hardest steps reformed alcoholics go through on the way to recovery is the first one – admitting they have a problem. This is true in almost any area where a person has ceded power to an outside influence – be they a drug, another person, or an organisation.
Look at your own life. Are you really in control? Or is somebody or something else working the levers?
This can require deep examination, as often the outside force tries to disguise its influence from us. It makes it easier for it to maintain power.
Once you’ve identified that you have a problem, the next step is to seize that power back. At the centre of your being lies your will – the conscious you. That is the part that should be in control of the decisions you make, and nothing else must influence that process.
Nobody and nothing likes to give up power. Whether it’s a person, a group, or a part of yourself such as your appetite or addiction, you can expect a fight.
Once the fight begins, the forces outside your will try anything to get you to concede and return to the status quo. The will threaten, beg, lie, whisper, yell and demand you return to them what they feel is rightfully theirs.
You should expect this and be prepared for it. The secret to overcoming these desperate measures is not to try and provide yourself with hidden crutches. Your opponent will likely find them and try to kick them out from under you.
Instead, prepare for the fight. Look forward to it. Relish it.
You are the one that’s in control now, and your opponent is going to have to deal with it – whether they like it or not.
What could feel better than knowing that and seeing the results from your resolve?
A smoker, who’s determined to regain control by quitting, can expect her addiction not to give up easily. She can be certain that it will make life as difficult as it can for her. It will whisper lies into her ear and make sure she thinks of nothing else but having another cigarette. It will scream at her and demand that she concede to its wishes.
But if she is strong, with time, its influence will become weaker. Through a sheer act of will, the smoker will show her addiction that it is beaten. It will see that it no longer has control over her, and will retreat and hide back into the hole it emerged from.
The same is true of the bullied son. Once his mother sees that he is asserting control, she will try anything to prevent him from doing so. She will threaten, ridicule and scream. Every strategy she can think of to prevent the abomination of him being back in control of his life will be utilised. She will try to show him that he is small and powerless, and that he may as well abandon this impossible quest immediately.
But these are signs of weakness, not strength. Beneath her seeming total power and control lies a pathetic fear. A fear that perhaps this time he will actually do it, that he will be the one making the decisions for himself.
If he shows her that his will is immovable, gradually she will come to accept the new situation. She will see that he is no longer hers to bully and control. Perhaps she will even desert him, but most likely she will stay and treat him with a newfound respect.
He has faced his fear and seized back control. He’s nothing less than a hero.
You too can become a hero over your own existence. Identify the areas where you’ve given up control to an outside force, then seize it back. Be prepared for a fight, but look forward to it, don’t fear it.
Expect to win. Tell yourself that nothing is strong enough to beat your resolve to succeed.
When you’ve won and are back in power, you will find it much easier to be happy. In fact, such control is the basis of all happiness.
Not only that, but you can congratulate yourself on a battle fought and an enemy defeated.
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