I had a conversation with my sister-in-law this morning about maid problems. My brother-in-law and she have had 5 maids in a year and the current one is turning out be a challenge again. Our conversation reminds me of a similar episode in my life.
In the course of my 13-year career, I worked for 7 companies. Zooming into a 5-year window between late 2003 and late 2008, I changed jobs 4 times. At the end of the 5th job, I had a 6-month break.
During this time I confronted myself. How come despite all the talents and skills I bring, I can’t seem to stay long in a job? There is a pattern to these four jobs: there was always a handful of push factors; with each one I thought I was moving on to better things; better pay, better sounding title, broader job scope that allowed me to grow as a professional and individual. On paper all the jobs on offer sounded great. In the end all, except for one, ended in a place far, far from where I had thought I would be. I always go into a new job so full of hope but in these instances, I ended up down and beaten.
Each job had their shortfalls and my decision to leave for the next better job was always well justified (to me at least at that moment in time). There was always a bitchy colleague who made my life intolerable, a tyrannical boss who was insensitive and was a lousy manager, a corporate culture that sucked the life out of my soul, bla bla bla. Reasons, valid and totally justified.
I remember feeling miserable, frustrated, deflated. No matter what I did, I ended up on the losing side. My intentions misunderstood, my actions misconstrued. I become a slave to my own insecurities, self doubts and low self esteem. I stopped trying, stopped fighting. I tried to go with the flow, floated around and ended up bruised everywhere. Physically exhausted, mentally defeated. Powerless. My life is a blank.
In the six months of hiatus (and upon further reflection subsequent months), it became clear to me that I was part of the problem, if not THE problem. I was suffering inside of my righteouness. I was so wrapped up in blaming others (people and circumstances) who I am convinced conspired to make my life miserable. I was so WRONG being so right.
Since none of it was my fault, then I am as good as saying I am useless, I can’t do anything about this situation I am facing. I am powerless to influence my own life; I have no say over what I call my life. I have to wait for the right boss to come along, the right bunch of colleagues, the right corporate culture. Wait for the stars to align. Wait for God to give me what (I think) I deserve. Wait. If I wait long enough, I just might get it. Btw, what exactly is it I am waiting for??
I got it. I really did. I started to look at ME, what I can take responsibility for. For when I take responsibility for the way my life is, I regain control of my life. For when I acknowledge that I have a role to play in the way my life is shaped, I give myself permission to participate in my life again, and not just be an active pedestrian or bystander who bitches and whines about how life is unfair and a pain because someone else is doing something wrong TO me.
To take responsibility is NOT to always admit fault or to beat myself up, although admitting that I am wrong is sometimes warranted. To take responsibility is to be accountable for the way I am being, the things I say, the things I do. Taking responsibility is to ask myself: what can I be responsible for? What can I cause? In contrast, finger pointing sounds like: this is not my fault. He/she/they/you/it should be like this, like that.
I stood up and be counted. I saw how my behavior then resulted in my own downfall and a string of bad outcomes in my life. I saw the moments when I was actually feeling a measure of happiness and satisfaction, albeit these were few and far between during those days. I looked everywhere in my life: in my work, in my personal life, in relationships, in me as a human being.
I was extremely shaken, shocked by how long I have allowed myself to be this deluded and how long I have allowed myself to get away with such behavior. I finally saw my life for what it is, saw myself for who I am. For the first time, saw and accepted that I am the source of everything good AND bad in my life. I am MY responsibility.
My life started to transform. Minute by minute, day by day, week by week, month by month. I hold myself accountable to everything that works and does not work in my life. I asked people in my life to hold me accountable for what I say and do. Some think I’m crazy or that I am joking. I am serious.
Initially, it was difficult, scary and I felt every fibre of my being kick, fight and resist. What is wrong with staying the way I am? Continuing to live my life the way I always have?
There is nothing wrong. I will survive life, I am sure of that. But I am not satisfied with a mediocre existence as a powerless being that is inconsequential to this world. I want to live a life I love and can be proud of and live this life powerfully. I want to be able to say to God when I finally meet him in heaven: God I have given my best shot in that life and I know you are proud of me.
I am fully responsible for my life. I like the idea that I have a say in the way my life turns out. Control freak? So be it 🙂