“I live in a constant state of confusion. I’m in my 40s, and everyone tells me how to live my life. My mother, who has not always made good choices, is constantly in my ear advising me about relationships. Friends tell me different ways to remedy situations. My siblings get exasperated with me because their way is the right way. Whether it be financial problems, issues about my children, or especially in matters of love, I seem to have no voice in my decisions. How can I take control of my life?
Joyce:Where there is drought, there is doubt.
You have had a dry run of stability. Leaning on others’ crutches tends to lead to a wobbly way of living. You seem to have lost, if you ever had possession of it at all, your ability to stand alone. At this decade in your life, it’s time for you to begin not only the right to exercise but also to enjoy the power that lies therein. Let’s get you a plan to become independent-minded and crutch-free.
1. There is truth in confusion. Either you believe in who you are or who others have convinced you you’re not. That kind of belief system can do one of two things: hold you back or push you forward. I encourage you to do a positive self-evaluation and write down your strong attributes. All of them. Everyone has something in which he or she excels. When pride is attached to that gift, we make a difference in the world around us. Start with the truth that you have great worth, and in doing so, you’ll begin drawing upon strength you have forgotten you possess.
2. Defy the unnatural. Your “normal” has apparently been defined for you — incapable. I encourage you to challenge the tendency to surrender to the unnatural state of allowing others to control you. As children, we need constant supervision, but it is not natural for healthy-minded parents to continue to regulate their children’s lives if they truly want to see them flourish. It is just as unnatural for children to desire to continue in that state. Begin the process with your mom and cut the cord.You can do this respectfully and kindly, but firmness will likely be necessary.
3. Distance yourself. It is vital at times in our lives to distance ourselves from negativity. This might involve detachment from siblings, save for holidays and special celebrations. I never encourage a wedge of separation, but a hedge of protection for your heart is certainly in order. Examine your friends. A really good friend would do more listening than discouraging, so assess your list and keep those kinds closer than the others.
4. Tie your tongue. Perhaps you’re sharing too much information about your finances, your kids, and your relationships with others. If you need to talk through situations, seek a counselor or mentor who would give you objective advice. Fight the urge to post your problems and emotions on Facebook or other social media outlets. People are more apt to meddle into someone’s business if there is an open invitation to do so.
5. Close your ears. Once you decide your business is your own, close your ears to any unwanted advice. You can politely excuse yourself from the conversation and then…go on about your business.
6. Practice. Write down the verbiage for responses you will now be giving to your family and friends. Then, speak them out loud. Things such as, “I appreciate what you’re saying and will certainly take it into consideration.” Or, “I’ve decided on a solution, and I’ll take care of it. But thanks for your input.” And even, “Thanks,” and move on to another conversation. Without solidifying your words of retort, you’ll be fumbling for the right answer and you could land back into your pit of confusion again.
Life is short. You have lived a good part of yours already. If you’re ever going to learn how to navigate through it, take control of the wheel. Your mom, siblings, and friends have enough in their own lives to manage. You only have one shot at yours, so become who you were intended to be. You can only control you, but if you give that opportunity to everyone else, you will never know how truly wonderful you are. And neither will that special person you love. Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro at firstname.lastname@example.org and find a solution for life. Now you can watch The Just Ask Joyce Show on a local TV station near you or go here to view it. It’s where real life and family values connect!