So often, I hear others blame their circumstances for their results. They believe that their circumstances limit them and prevent them from having and creating what they want.
The tendency is to look at others who have achieved success, and ascribe their success to some supposed force around them. “Oh, he came from a wealthy family.” “She had a good education.” “He had a mentor who helped him when he was a teenager.” “She was never abused like I was.”
However, there is one solid truth behind our circumstances, and behind our successes and failures in life. Accepting and understanding this one truth, which can be hard at first, is the only way to move forward to have the life you truly desire. What is this one truth?
Your circumstances are NOT your problem. YOU are your problem.
Yes, you. (It’s ok if you want to get angry with me here.)
Here’s the upside of this statement – once you realize that you, and only you, are responsible for your success or failure, the next understanding that follows is that you can change things! You have the power to create what you want. You have the ability to make of life what you desire. Not someone else.
If you’re still with me, let’s take a look at how we came to be in the circumstances we’re in, and what we can do about it.
1) Circumstances do not determine our character
Circumstances don't determine our character, unless we let them.
Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself. ~ James Allen
If we believe that we cannot control our circumstances, then we have given away our power. We become passive beings in a sea of events, being carried along by the tides.
A tornado destroyed your home? A hurricane demolished your town? If we simply respond and blame our circumstances, we would bemoan our horrible fate, be upset that all is lost, and feel hopeless. Most people would say that losing your home to a natural disaster is pretty bad.
While losing your home is not something anyone would desire to experience, the event does not have to dictate our response, or who we become. A dear family I know lost their entire home to a fire. What was their response? That evening, they took all of their children to a movie! Why not? Sure, their home was lost, but they had their most important “possessions” – each other.
Many people grow up in abusive homes or in poverty, only to go on to live successful, happy lives, contributing to society in meaningful ways. They learn the lessons from these painful experiences, choose to change and escape the patterns, and create the life they want. Growing up in a poor or abusive environment does not mean we are stuck carrying those patterns on to the next generation.
Our agency, our ability to choose, is the greatest gift we have. We always, always have the ability to choose our thoughts and our actions. Our circumstances do not create our character unless we choose to let them do so, by being passive and choosing to succumb to the outside forces that are not supporting our growth.
2) Circumstances reflect our inner world
To a very large degree, our circumstances are a reflection of our inner world of thoughts and the ongoing daily dialogue we have with ourselves.
Do you think you’re not very pretty, or not that handsome? You probably didn’t have many dates as a teen.
Do you think you’re really quite bright? You probably got good grades in school.
Do you think you need more money to be happy? You’re probably depressed and down much of the time.
Take an honest look at your circumstances, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you think all day. It might be easier to do this exercise on someone else first!
Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. ~ James Allen
Our emotional state of being is a choice. The habits we cultivate are a choice.
Yes, it takes consistent, patient, disciplined practice to constrain and direct our thoughts to create a state of persistent happiness and contentment with life. Or to create a successful marriage, or become a world-class athlete or musician or anything else you want to be.
3) Create the circumstances you want
Through careful, consistent training, you can change your circumstances to reflect new thought patterns of your own choosing. What do you want in your life? What are you currently unhappy about that you’d like to change?
Start to choose new thoughts today, right now. Take out a piece of paper and write out what you want. Describe it in as much detail as you can. Who do you want to become? What habits do you want? What do you want your relationships to be like? How do you want to spend your time?
Write out what you want, and read it aloud every day. Pick a few affirmations (statements of beliefs you desire to embody) and repeat them over and over. Change the way you talk to yourself so that you only allow good and uplifting thoughts to run through your mind each day.
A particular train of thought persisted in, but it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstance. ~ James Allen
Circumstances aren't the problem!
- Look at your circumstances - are they what you want?
- If you want different circumstances, start by changing your thoughts and your self-talk.
- Be patient! It takes a lot of time and discipline to form the habit of thinking new thoughts.
How have you created new circumstances for yourself? What new thoughts did you start to think?