Get Out of Your Own Way: How Our Perspective Determines Our Future
Today, friend, you’re getting my fiery side. When I see others standing in their own way, I want to grab them and shake them. I want to hear their journey and show them the beauty in it. I want to show them they can push through anything. My struggles are your struggles. What has shaped (and continues to shape) me is the same thing that can shape you.
One thing I’ve become over the last couple of years is self-aware. I’ve learned how to take inventory of what’s going on inside my head. And you know what? I have to correct myself a lot. From the surface, it seems easy to take inventory of yourself: what you’ve accomplished, what you haven’t, what your strengths and weaknesses are, where you’re at in life. No disagreement there, right? But on those shortcomings (let’s not call them failures, I hate that word), we often have a reason for why they occurred. A person? An employer? A health crisis? An accident? Was it out of your control? Were you to blame for any of it, or were you collateral damage? Friend, hear my heart… you need to accept responsibility for whatever your past holds. I don’t care what caused the actual event, that isn’t where your focus should be. You still need to accept responsibility.
Think through this with me. I am where I am today (in every regard) and you are where you are because of the decisions we’ve made along the way. How do you make those decisions? You think things through… your perspective guides your decisions, right? Then it’s fair to say that you are where you are today because of your perspective. It’s that simple. But you know what’s also simple? The way to change where you are – to determine where you’re heading. You can change your future by changing your perspective, which in turn will affect your decisions. When life knocks you down, your reaction is what will determine where you end up.
Can I be vulnerable for a moment?
If I let the things that have happened in my life control who I am and who I become, then I would be in a sad state of affairs right now. I grew up with a hot-headed father that was addicted to drugs my entire life. His drug use became so bad when I was a Senior in high school that he lost his job (due to a drug test, btw). He just stopped trying after that. He would disappear for days on end and come home when he needed to grab things that he could sell for cash quickly (no joke, I can vividly remember him take our washer and dryer one day). He wasn’t engaged with my brother, sister or I whatsoever at that point. There was no emotion. He completely gave up, and our family was completely crumbling before our eyes. My mom did everything she could, but we still lost our family home that we’d lived in for 15 years. We moved miles away from our schools, our friends, and everything we’d known.
That right there was the moment where I could decide to fold, or to take the reins myself.
Rather than throwing a pity party for myself, I found an even better paying part time job after school so that I could afford my own vehicle (the family vehicle I drove in high school was repossessed), my own insurance and cell phone. I decided not to move out of state for college, but to stay in-state to be near my mom and siblings (and I’m forever grateful to be an ASU Alumni). I moved out within about a year of graduating high school and fully supported myself as I worked through college.
While many could have gone through the same situation and blamed everything on their father, I chose to create my own path. I chose not to have the perspective that my future was on hold, or that I would only ever be a drug-addict’s daughter. I knew that I couldn’t control him, so what good would it have done to blame him and allow his decisions to determine where I ended up? It didn’t get easier right away either. I went into my Freshman year of college, as a full time student and full time employee (since I had to pay for my own apartment and living expenses). It was hard. It was really, really hard. I remember having a 7am class, working from 8:30 to 5 and then going back to campus for classes from 6:30-9’ish. That whole part of my life is such a blur. But guess what? I graduated.
I didn’t allow what had happened with my family to affect my own future. That isn’t where the story ends. It’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs in the decade since, but it has been for you too. I know it has. That’s just life. Here’s my point – and the message I really hope you take away from this today – nothing in my life has been handed to me. Any successes I’ve reached in my life were preceeded by hours and hours of work, of tears, of trials and mistakes, and of dusting myself off and trying again. I accepted responsibility for my past, I’ve forgiven those that have caused me hurt (yes, even my father), and I have learned that my perception of everything affects my next move.
Remember when I said that we are where we are because of our decisions, which are a result of our thinking? That’s the key in all of this. I choose gratitude every day. For the little things. Because they really add up to the big things. I choose to be intentional because without that we’re just floating through life. And I choose grace. Grace for our mistakes, grace for the surprises in life that try to derail us, and grace for those that we need to forgive.
Who or what are you allowing to be the excuse for where you’re at right now?