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Quote of the Day: Owning Problems
“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis
Your mileage might vary, but I have found this true. When I am having a problem, I look at where I am, where I want to be, and figure out what resources I have that can help me get there. At that point, what else matters? Sure, you might have a problem because Bob shafted you, but that matters less than getting out of the problem. (Although, you might consider taking Bob out of your resource pool thereafter.)
If the resources you have are not enough to get you out of the problem? That does not matter. The correct question is can they get you part of the way? After that, what do you need to get you the rest of the way? Where and how do you get them?
Edvard Beneš, President of Czechoslovakia in 1938, had a sign on his desk that read, “When you need a helping hand, look at the end of your arm.” It was advice he failed to follow when his allies, France and Britain, insisted he give up the Sudetenland. Instead of dealing with the problem on his own, challenging the Germans to invade (where the odds were about even the Czech fortifications would have stopped them) he caved to keep the rest of his country. Which he lost a year later anyway.
Compare that to Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s refusal of a ride out of Kyiv 84 years later. Yabbut, you say, Ukraine’s victory depends on outside factors, you say. True, but had Zelenskyy not chosen to control his own and his country’s destiny a year ago, he would not be in the game today. He would be a footnote to history; the last president of an independent Ukraine before it was absorbed back into Russia. That is what I mean about getting part of the way to the solution of the problem with the resources you have and then obtaining what you need to get the rest of the way.
It works on the personal level, too. Back in 2001, immediately after 9-11, I lost my job. It was going away, anyway, and I had been seeking a new one. On 9-10, I had four job offers, and was waiting for an interview the following week to decide which one I would accept. On 9-12, all four companies that had extended offers withdrew them (hiring freeze), and the company I was to interview with canceled the interview. On September 30, the company I was working for shut down, as scheduled.
At that point, I could have said that the world was against me and given up. After all, the economy was in freefall due to the 9-11 attacks. I was in an isolated small town in deep East Texas. Things that were beyond my power to change. Instead, I decided this was my problem to solve, not the world’s problem to solve for me.
It took nine months of uncertainty, but I found a new (and better) job. Had I given up, settled for a minimum-wage, minimum-challenge position somewhere, because factors beyond my control were to blame for my losing my job, I would be a lot worse off than I am today. Yes, others helped, but they helped because I was still trying to solve my problems, rather than waiting for a handout.
You are in charge of your life. Even when the world deals you a Jack-high hand of cards, what you do with it is yours to decide. Focus on that.Published in Group Writing
I can influence the outcome, but I do not control my own destiny.
You control it as much as a pilot controls his airplane. Control may not be perfect. Control may not be total. But you do control it even if you cannot command the outcome.
I find the idea that if you had taken a minimum wage job somewhere that your life would have been worse odd. Taking a job to tide you over because you need the money doesn’t lock you into that job for life. It would seem to me that taking the one job and continuing to search for something better is a logical approach that would also work out in the long run. Just a thought.
Re-read the paragraph. I did take some low-paying jobs during that period. But I did not settle for them because fate handed me a bad hand. It would have been easy to do that. To make my point cleare, I edited the sentence from “gone for” to “settled for.”
Every time I listen to an argument on the topic of who is in charge of an individual’s life and how should the process be carried out, I inevitably arrive at the same conclusion.
There is a sphere of influence where this happens. The individual is at the center of that sphere and, when capable, will make the critical decisions from potential choices the range of which likely depends on the quality of that developed capability. Now that sphere of influence is limited and loses its personal effectiveness rapidly as it expands from local to distant human interaction.
We are experiencing an age now where we are able to gain an understanding of this that was never available before. We have labeled it the Information Age. But it presents a new set of problems. Information should yield knowledge that is based on truth or facts but our information comes including much falsehood which has be called disinformation.
Keep the above in mind now in this picture of our current environment. On Ricochet, we have been having lengthy discussions that ultimately focus on two spheres of influence in our American society that seem to have engaged those who are active in an existential battle, the people, individuals who value personal liberty, versus the Elite, members of groups who value money and/or power. They are operating in different spheres of influence.
The first sphere, composed of those valuing individual freedom referred to as the people, is focused on the local influence that starts within the family and others physically close or local who are close and likely have much in common in their value system, once upon a time this was called a tribe. The other sphere is frequently referred to as networks to facilitate the development and accumulation of power and wealth in order to control the people in the first sphere. This second sphere includes government, academia, corporate business, public media and a host of other public institutions.
The problems facing individuals exist in these two spheres and the steps required to deal with them are frequently quite different. The players in the local sphere care and those in the networking sphere don’t care.
Yes, you can take charge of circumstances within your control. There was a lot about life in 2020 that was beyond my ability to control. My husband and I decided that we didn’t need to be at the mercy of the government and government schools of Virginia and moved our family to Texas. That decision continues to shape our lives and the lives of our children in many beneficial ways.
This is the Quote of the Day (QOTD) and any Ricochet member is welcome to sign up for a day in March here.
You do what you can and suffer what you must.
What’s important, don’t give in to despair.
I’ve always admired Albert Ellis. I made good use of his philosophy back in my counseling psychology days.