You probably feel this to some degree at work, where your boss is calling the shots every day but to a large extent, most of us are also influenced in other ways that give up our freedom and autonomy to dictate the direction of our lives.
Consider the advertising. Do you see a new thing (currently, the Apple Watch is all the rage) and immediately want it? Wanting is no problem, but do you realize that advertising is meant to get you to do something you may not do on your own?
Do you do what the advertising prompts you to do, or do you step back and say, “that looks interesting” and check it out at your leisure instead of running to the nearest Apple Store like everyone else? That’s just one way that we are influenced and if we give in to it, we lose a little bit of our freedom of choice.
Another way that we can lose autonomy is family pressures. Many parents will say to their kids, “You can be whatever you want when you grow up” and then when their college-age child announces that they want to apprentice as a swordmaker, the parental “responsibility meter” goes off and they immediately counsel the child that he will never get a job doing that, and it will be hard to make a living with something so obscure, etc.
Many a dream has been squashed by well-meaning parents and other influential relatives, teachers, etc. Finally, we relinquish control by allowing it to be so.
The media tells us that the world is a dangerous place (look at all the wars! the natural disasters!) and so we are more hesitant to trust people who are different from us, and avoid exploring places that are deemed dangerous.
We are told that the economy is bad, and so we avoid taking any risks like starting a business. We see that others have a big house and a fancy car, and in blind pursuit of wanting to be like them, we slave away our lives for enough money to at least put a down-payment on expensive things that we don’t need. I’m not saying YOU are like that, but most of us are, to some degree!
When you are following the herd and doing what you believe is expected of you – and it goes against the grain of who you are at your core – are you happy?
Of course not. You may rationalize it to yourself, even tell yourself that your dreams are childish and impractical, but inside, you’re dying a little every day because you didn’t stand up, take responsibility for your choices and chart the course of your life. You don’t have to do this! Meditation helps you in many ways to take back control of your life. First, you gain clarity on what it is that really means a lot to you, the non-negotiable situations you want in your life.
You also learn to overcome the negative self-talk that keeps you stuck and believing what others tell you (even if it doesn’t ring true to you). And, when you use a mantra such as “I am responsible” during meditation, you not only give yourself a point of focus but you also imprint the idea that you are the captain of your life’s ship.
“I am responsible…” can’t you just feel your confidence rising already? Of course, when you’re responsible, you also have to take the bad with the good – and be responsible for your mistakes as well as your triumphs. It’s humbling, but at the same time liberating. When you are okay making mistakes (look for the learning opportunity!!) then you can be strong and fully responsible for your life.