You Are Not a Victim

There are aspects of your life you do not control.

You don’t control how others think or what they want. You don’t control how they treat you or how they respond to you. You don’t control the weather, or the news, or what the late-night hosts say on their shows. You probably don’t control the direction your company takes, whether they will promote you or hire a consultant to help you or lay you off. You don’t control where your teen goes or who he’s with when he’s not at home.

If you let yourself, you might start thinking your life is completely out of your hands, that the best you can do is find something or someone floating in the rushing tide and hold on as best you can. And to be honest, some days that’s all you can do.

But you’re a long way from hopeless. There’s plenty you can control.

You don’t control how others treat you. But you can control how you treat them, and most of the time, they will respond in kind. Because they, like you, want to be treated fairly, with respect and love.

You don’t control the weather, but you can control how you respond to it. Bundle up or bring an umbrella or drink plenty of water, and most of the time you’ll be fine. Embrace it, go out and enjoy it in a safe way, and it can make you stronger.

You don’t control what your company does, but you can control how you act toward it. Give it your best work while you’re there, take the duties it entrusts to you seriously, treat your coworkers with respect and love, and you may find your efforts rewarded. And if they aren’t, you can decide where you would rather work and begin taking steps to get there.

You don’t control what your teen does or who he is with, but you can teach him what is right and wrong, answer his questions honestly and with love, and respond with love when he tests your boundaries. And much of the time, you may find he makes the right decisions even when you’re not there.

You may feel like you can’t control the direction of your life. But you can set a goal and begin taking steps to reach it. Want a new job? Figure out what you want to do and where you want to work, then tailor your resume. Want to start a company? Learn what people want that you can provide, and decide on the best way to give it to them. Want to lose weight? Pick an exercise routine you like and commit to it for a month. Choose nutritious food over junk and see what happens. Not sure what you want? Turn off the TV for an hour each night and read. You might be surprised how making one change in your routine helps focus your intentions.

You can approach life like a victim, like nothing is in your control and all you can do is grab the crumbs that drift your way as you ride the swirling currents. Or you can take control of what you can control, decide which direction you want to go and start kicking that way. It will be hard, and it will take a long time, and you might never get there.

But the alternative is to spend your life complaining about soggy crumbs. Who wants that?

I've been a soldier, a dreamer, a working stiff, a leader. A husband, father, example (good and otherwise), and now a survivor. I write about courage, because courage is what enables us to accomplish the impossible. If you draw breath, I love you. If you love in whatever way seems best to you and want others to love in whatever way seems best to them, I am your ally. If you believe someone is less than you because they do not love the way you do, I oppose you. If you see someone as a threat to be abused or destroyed merely because they do not look like you, or love like you, or worship like you, I am your enemy. I am a joyful and courageous man. And I stand with you who love.