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Are you the driver or the driven?

An In Balance Original Article

"When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things." - 1 Corinthians 13:11

When we were children our mothers selected our clothes and decided the menu and even forced us to eat foods we didn't like.

But then we grew up and became adults. Now we had the freedom to choose for ourselves, but we also assumed responsibility for all the consequences of our choices. There are some who argue that "free will" is both a blessing - and a curse. The good news is you get to make your own decisions; and the bad news is you have to make your own decisions. No one is running your life for you any more.

But is that true? Isn't it tempting to let others make some choices for you? It may be your spouse, or your boss, or your government, or your religion. Sure, we live with limits being imposed on us all the time. Many of these are reasonable, and just, and prudent, and beyond our ability to refuse.

But sometimes - sometimes we allow others to decide for us, and accept the limits they impose on us as the price we pay for not having to shoulder the burden of responsibility for that decision. "It wasn't me," we can honestly claim, "it was beyond my control."

Life is a complicated dance. We partner with a spouse, and friends, and co-workers, and others, and our life-journey with them is a matter of give-and-take, of compromise. We get so used to it, we often forget we are doing it. The wild frontier is gone forever, and we are no longer lone cowboys on an empty range. We now share that range with others, and the freedom to swing our arms ends with the beginning of the next person's face. When we were very young we learned how to cooperate with the other kids in school, and we practice that cooperation for the rest of our lives.

We have become such "good members of society" (or good mommies, or good employees, etc.) that we often forget we still have the right and power to make our own decisions. Instead, we feel driven by circumstances, by commitments we have made, by appointments that must be met on time, by the cupcakes and costumes and recitals and soccer games we taxi to. We feel life is a game of catch-up, and somewhere "choice" got lost in the details.

You ask yourself, "How did things get this way?" Did you make this bed, as the metaphor goes, and if you did, are you now required to lie in it? When you look at your life you need to ask yourself this question: are you still the chooser, or have you become the choice.

Another way of phrasing it might be: are you the driver or the driven?

Many of us will acknowledge that we feel driven, though we have many good reasons to explain why. And that is perfectly fine. Life is a complicated dance, and we are cooperative members of our society, as we explored earlier. It is reasonable and understandable that so much of life appears to be running on automatic.

But we must not forget that we are the drivers, too. It is very important that we do not lose sight of this. We do have choice, and we can decide to do things differently, if we want. There may be consequences from our decisions, but these consequences may be seen as rewards. We cannot believe that the power to change is beyond our control, and if we have given that power away we must take it back.

Even this 'wresting back control' is a choice. If we want to experience life more fully, and if we want to see different results appear in our life, we must exchange some of the comfort and safety that accompanies decisions made by others, for the freedom and potential peril of choosing our own path. It can be both scary and exciting to take the reins back into your own hands and orchestrate what comes next. You may risk failure, but you may achieve success, and either way you are living a life of your own making.

This is how you make a dynamic change in your life, and this is how you dramatically come closer to your goals. You are not a slave to your children. You don't have to bake brownies for the church social. You can look for a new job. You can cut your hair and dye it blond. You can commit to a diet and drop a few dress sizes. You can clear up the clutter in your house. Big or small, the decision is yours to make, and the power is within to make it happen.

Need help to get started? Is the path ahead still a little fuzzy? Get a coach. With a little help you may be amazed how quickly you are following your dreams on your own.


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Disclaimer: As a Health Coach, I will never attempt to diagnose, treat, make claims, prevent or cure any disease or condition. I advise my clients that Health Coaching is not intended to substitute for the advice, treatment and/or diagnosis of a qualified licensed health care professional.