accepting when you are powerless

I am tired of reading motivational posters which urge things like,

Create the life you want to live.

Please don't say that to an infertile woman who dreams of being the mother of a large family. Or a girl who used to pore over aviation stories when she was young but then learned her bad eyesight barred her forever from becoming a pilot.

Please don't tell people that they are responsible for the real limits of their lives. To a certain degree of course we are able to create a pathway, and we can shape an ideal vision in our minds, and certainly we can manage our own attitude towards things. But a person with a dodgy heart can not become a world champion runner, no matter how much they want it, no matter how you wrangle it. For them, the motivation of "create the life you want to live" is unhelpful, disrespectful, and even quite cruel.




I dump this kind of thing in the power of attraction bucket - the feel-good but dangerous philosophies of our modern era. I also think it is yet another case of brainwashing us to believe that what we do is more important than who we are.

My advice would be,
Create within yourself the person you want to be.

Try to do your best to make things happen as much as is possible. And grieve what you can not manage. And open your heart to the goodness, beauty, and grace, of whatever circumstances you find yourself in. It may never be enough, but you yourself can be enough, with love and kindness to yourself, even when you are powerless to make your dreams come true.


14 comments:

  1. Hurrah! Totally agree with you. As someone with incurable cancer I get really cheesed with the 'you can achieve anything if you really want it' brigade. Thank you x

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  2. Del, I am so sorry to read of your circumstances. I wish you strength and peace of mind and great joy.

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  3. I may have cheered as I read this post. Thank you. My thoughts exactly. It's the same with,'The life you have is a result of your choices.' Tell that to a young girl facing FGM. Grrr.

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  4. I absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with all of the above. This is a topic about which I feel very passionate indeed.
    Perhaps a fear of negativity and limitation has resulted in the philosophical pendulum swinging too far the other way. Limitation or powerless in any form seems to be aligned with weakness of character now. Perhaps it's our modern cult of individuality that's driving some of the more extreme and delusional beliefs. I've seen it generate guilt and shame, and a sense of failure in some who subscribe to this way of thinking.

    Anyway, I think there is humility and compassion in recognising, and accepting when we can't override/control/create certain circumstances or outcomes. And I love this: "create within yourself the person you want to be".
    Yes. xxx

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    1. I agree with what you wrote here. Especially about the cult of the individual, which as you know I have a lot of trouble with.

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  5. Yes! Whenever I see one of those quotes like you described, I always think of ballet. No, we can't all do whatever we want with enough effort. That's foolish. But you're right, we can change work on our character, what's most important.

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  6. So true! In some way, it's not our limits that define us, but what we do within them.

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  7. Beautiful. I completely agree. There is enough pressure on people without being nagged to be something you can't be or simply are not. Just being satisfied with who we are is very underrated. When I these motivational offerings, I have often had thought about those who are sick or sad or lonely. I also think about them every year during the holidays when joy and good cheer is the order of the day. If motivation is needed, I think it would be better targeted to those who are in a position to help someone else.

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  8. Liz in Missouri USAFebruary 14, 2015 at 3:02 AM

    I'm so glad you posted this. I agree 100%. No matter how they phrase it, those sayings all boil down to "you can do whatever you want to do" and it's just such crap. MAYBE you can do whatever you want to do if, as you say, you are in perfect health or wealth, but even then, I think it often comes with a total disregard for anyone or anything else. I'm not a big fan of resignation and I don't like that particular word (I would rather substitute "acceptance") - but honestly - sometimes you just have to work with what you have. I like your phrase ever so much better than any I've read in ages.

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  9. I think it is very hard to design a dream that is not ego oriented, but if we let go and simply focus on how we want our lives to 'feel' we can definitely experience great shifts. I might ask this girl with the poor eyesight why the dream of being a pilot? What would it feel like to be that? What does that dream feel like? What's the attraction? And the example of being an infertile mother? I can't find total sympathy within this because there are so many children who need homes and would love to have a mother. If that mother's dream is to create a space where she can nurture without judgement then there are so many ways to do this. We tend to want the 'one' story without really thinking about the different ways that story could play out. I do believe that when one door closes 100 more open.

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    1. I'm afraid I have to politely, and hopefully gently, disagree. I tend to be rather literal in my thinking about these things. Being a pilot is about flying a plane. In many cases we can find substitutes for our thwarted dreams, and that's wonderful. But I think it's helpful and healing to acknowledge when something can not be achieved, so that it can be grieved.

      Also, I don't have sympathy for infertile mothers because there are children who need homes - I have sympathy for them because there are mothers who need children. And yes, they can become teachers or foster parents or have dogs, but it's not the same (although it may be as good for many people) as birthing or adopting a child and raising them fully throughout their lives as your child, your family, bringing in possibly in-laws and grandchildren and so on.

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  10. Thank you everyone, I so much appreciate all your comments. <3

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