{image via The Urban Slant}
{image via The Urban Slant}

The hardest thing to do, which is also the most life-changing, is to take responsibility for your life. This means that you look at everything going on right now, not as evidence of bad luck or misfortune, but as the decisions that led you up to this point.

It is not about self-blame or self-pity. You may indulge in both for awhile. You may need to. But to truly grow as a person and be happy, you need to empower yourself. That takes seeing your life as it is not colored by someone’s bad choices, your parents’ mistakes or hard luck.

When it comes down to it, it’s so much easier to blame someone else than to understand, have compassion for, and be aware of what you did to yourself.

It was a hard look at my own life that made me realize this. It took years for me to wake up. I saw that the company I chose to surround myself with, the situations I put myself in and the life that I used to lead were the results of bad choices stemming from a low self-worth. It’s also hearing a quote by Theodore Roosevelt spoken aloud by author, professor and public speaker Brené Brown on Super Soul Sunday that made things sync for me.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

It’s not bad luck that led to moments of insecurity and self-doubt when it came to following my dreams. I realized that I chose people in my life who reinforced a long-held belief that I could not write, that I was not a good enough writer, and that I would never live the life of my dreams. I saw a trail of critics who validated what I was feeling internally. When I finally lifted myself out of the negativity, I saw that I was the one who was putting myself on the line, risking everything, and being vulnerable by following my dreams. The people I listened to were simply good at being on the sidelines, feeling courageous in their critiques.

I say this because you may be in the same boat as me. You might be struggling, working hard, dealing daily with people who don’t support your dreams. You will encounter this whenever you strive for a non-traditional life. Don’t make things harder on yourself by surrounding yourself with negative, non-supportive people.

Happiness and success come when your insides match your outsides. When you notice that the people you spend the most time with are loving, understanding and genuinely care about you, then you’ve done it! You’re on the road to the life you were meant to live.

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