Earlier today I heard my coach say, “If you really are committed to producing the kind of future that you want; don’t stand in judgment of the past that you didn’t want. It doesn’t work that way.”
I remember the first time I was exposed to this idea. It was 2016 and I was in the room at a week long coaching certification being held in Los Angeles. I was pretty stuck in my attachment to my role as a victim in my past. I grew up with alcoholism and abuse in the home and it impacted how I grew up. I was sharing this with my coach and he asked, “Could you have left?” I said an emphatic, “NO! I was a child.”
What followed was one of the most profound things I’d heard and I’ll forever remember how hard it landed. He said, “I’m not asking should you have left. I’m asking could you have left?”
And the answer was yes.
I could have.
I could have walked out. I had working legs and access to the door.
And me holding myself as a victim to my past with no options; holding onto myself as choice-less – was keeping me attached to that disempowering story. Keeping me attached to the pain. Unable to do anything about it.
I had created an energetic string between me in the present and my place in my disempowered story of my past.
And from that attached place, there was no way I could be empowered in the moment, let alone in the future.
While I believe each individual and every situation is personal, at a high-level, I also believe that our ability to be empowered in the future breaks down into 2 main categories:
1. Own that you made a choice.
You have to own that you made a choice. There is empowerment embedded in the ownership. We all make the best choices we can in the moment that we make them. We decide to do, not to do, go, not to go, enter into relationship or conversation… we decide all of these things coming from our highest level of awareness at the time.
If we knew better, we’d do better. You have to recognize that you didn’t have access to how things would turn out in the future when you made the choice you did; so it’s actually unfair to judge yourself based on the results you didn’t know you’d get.
Earlier today a friend of mine posted Maya Angelou’s famous quote on his Facebook page…
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
My comment on his post leads directly into the second step to empowerment….
2. Stop beating yourself up about said choice.
It is what it is. Period. You decided. You made a choice. And remember, a “non-choice” is still a choice. Own it, but please, please, please don’t hold judgment for yourself for what you did/said/experienced when you didn’t know better.
Acceptance doesn’t have to come with self-abuse. Beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help. At all. And yet, so many of us are deeply raging against our own selves. Calling ourselves dumb, worthless, failures, and a torrent of other obscenities that we’d never dare verbalize for fear that we’d be committed.
Once you’ve taken ownership, you’re free to make a new choice.
Here’s what we want to remember:
Our being at choice is empowering.
But, being a victim to the actions of others is easier.
Or as my coach, Sean Smith, says, “Blame is so much easier than responsibility. But I’ve never known it to solve a person’s problems.”
Holding someone else to blame requires them to change for us to feel better. And that may never happen.
If you want to be empowered NOW, you’ll want to own your choices.
At least as options.
Because in possibility, there is hope.
Hope for your healing.