Ever notice how people say they are in charge of their lives, but they then act like they are not?
I might hear someone say "I always attract addicts!" as if they could control all the aspects and choices of other people.
On the other side, I hear people say things like or "Why am I not drawing more money into my life?" as if that where a question for the universe rather than a question that relates to the personal choices one makes during each day.
It's quite a muddle all this. And it is important to see as clearly as we can.
I don't see the point of taking on more and more responsibility for the random things that happen to us while simultaneously abdicating responsibility for our choices. So I've been reflecting on an important question lately:
Who's in charge?
... and in charge of what?
I see people acting crazy, torn apart, suffering, because they have not considered this question deeply enough. If they could see the ways they take over-responsibility for others and under-responsibility for themselves, their lives would change radically for the better.
For example, everyone knows they are not in charge of the boss, the spouse, the kids or the economy. Of course we hear people complaining and arguing about how unfair all these things are all the time.
But look more closely. Look at how they are blaming their own actions on these things. I heard someone recently saying that because the boss is a b*tch, their own bad attitude at work was totally justified. That comment passed unchallenged by anyone. Who "makes" you angry? Who "upsets" you? How do they do that? How do they get inside you and do that?
Every breath of blame holds some excuse for our own behavior.
No matter what other people do they cannot get inside us and make us see or do anything.
Viktor Frankl proved that.
Do you disagree?
In fact many people are in prison right now because it made sense to them to shoot someone who showed "disrespect." Do you think they had to kill a person because of a comment? Probably not. But they do
. And I assure you, you and I all have areas of life where we are believe something similar and because it makes sense within the confines of our own mind we go blind to it.
Science was blind to it too. Now the latest brain science research is not only discovering the previously "impossible" plasticity of the brain, but it is throwing out the whole theory that environment determines behavior in any way. Neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga said in his Gifford lectures
that humans are responsible agents and responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains.
Of course, this information does not help us that much day to day. It never will until we are willing to shine a light into our blind spots. One of our big blind spots (and I know, because it's mine too) is in understanding ourselves and how the human machine works.
Internally every human on this planet is a powerful storyteller. We are inventors of reasons and interpretations that we treat as facts and refer to as "reality." This activity keeps our brains very busy and our mental lives very full.
How much are you willing to see that the majority of the day is made up of moving in and out of the feeling states that are being created by your own thinking and not created by the outside world acting on you?
Most of the day we are entertained mentally.
Have you ever caught yourself wandering off into a day-dream?
You are not asleep; you are fully awake in your body, but your mind has literally meandered into a thought stream. Maybe you are thinking about the upcoming weekend hot date, plans to get to the airport on time, or the way you'll move your money around so you can pay for something you want.
If you really sit for a moment and consider this, it is quite amazing how you are your own 3-D special effects team. Strings of random thoughts arrive flying by at such a speed as to make their arrival and shifting patterns completely unnoticeable and yet illuminated through you into full-sensory experiences.
A day-dream is a good example of how we can get completely lost in that experience.
What we forget is that all thoughts have this same effect. We also forget the transitory nature of thought. There is no constant, permanent thought.
If you know anyone who is consumed in worry, obsessed with the past, or has trouble listening to people or sitting still -- it is not that they must change their thought patterns, it is that they need to become aware that their internal cinema is entertaining them. And I guarantee you, they don't know that. They will tell you it's because of something, someone or some event that either happened to them in the past or is happening now. They see themselves as Response. So sometimes we recognize that we're in the inner-cinema and other times we don't.
This is really where the idea of Who's In Charge? comes in. It's not that we need to control what we think. We can't change the inner-cinematic effect: this is how we work as humans. But we certainly can stop blaming others for what is happening in our own internal world.
In this sense, no one has the power to make you do anything and no one can have any kind of effect on you. Only you do that.
This is radical, but freeing news.