Day 7 – The only power we actually have



One of the most important things I’ve come to realize is that the only power we actually have is over ourselves. By this I mean it is impossible to make anyone else do something that they don’t want to do or be something they aren’t willing to be. They have to consent as well. They have to be open and willing as well. And there isn’t anything that I can do to force this. With my nephews and my son it was easy to be open to their love. It was easy to trust that I wanted to love them and wanted them in my life. When it comes to other kinds of relationships, both friendships, but more importantly with intimate relationships it is a lot more difficult for me to be willing to be open. I’m not sure that it hasn’t gotten harder since learning that I can’t make someone love me. It simply has to be something that they choose and something that I have to trust. Although I also find it a little bit easier, as well, because I’m less confused about what needs to happen and what I want in order to make anything happen. And I think that knowledge is extremely beneficial.

But the aspect that has been on my mind lately is how difficult it can be to have to let go. We can’t force others to do well if they aren’t going to choose to. We can’t make our kids do well in school if they don’t want to. We can’t make them socialize with the people we would prefer, or date or marry who we would prefer. We can’t make the people we love have the life we think they should have. And letting go of what we want can be extremely difficult. We can’t live anyone’s life for them. We have to let people make mistakes. And watching that happen with no control over it is hard under any circumstance – parent, child, friend, significant other. So in the end all we can really control is ourselves. And letting go of that need to change the paths that others are on is something that we have to do for ourselves. It doesn’t mean we have to leave them alone, but in some cases that is what’s best. It doesn’t mean we can’t encourage them, or offer assistance. But we have to be willing to allow them to make their own decisions, because no one responds well to excessive pressure. The pot will always boil over in those cases. Excessive worrying is just as traumatic, only we are hurting ourselves. Looking at ourselves, understanding our role, learning how we can best approach the situation in a way that is beneficial for both people is the only way for anything worthwhile to emerge. We have to use the power that we have over ourselves in order to help others who we want to help. We can’t force others to do anything, but we can make the right choices for us.

About laurenc129

I'm a mom. Sometimes my hands turn orange. Other times I write. On twitter: @laurenc129

Posted on May 7, 2012, in 31 days of May, babies and bugs, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Good one Lauren.

    Your post reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote:

    “Be the change you want to see in the world”

    Though it is not exactly the same issue that you’re talking about but offers some help if you think about it.

    The way I deal with this issue is that I don’t expect anything in return (or having expectations) from others. I know it is very difficult to practice but has helped me to keep my focus and progress in life.



    • That’s part of “The Four Agreements.” One of my favorite books! Removing expectations is hard to do. But it is helpful to remember and to work into your life. It helps being the focus back to why we do the things we do. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


  2. That picture makes me think of my son…

    Anyway… I agree completely… I once had an ex tell me “you can’t make someone happy” and that’s true. God knows I’ve tried. And God knows I’ve given up trying too LOL

    I would agree with you too, that you can’t make anyone do *anything* – there’s always a choice. Even under the most dire circumstances, like holding a loved one hostage, there is always that choice.

    I found your words encouraging tonight… I need to stop beating myself up… thanks 🙂


  3. You’re right we cannot control anyone else. What we can do is control what we teach our younger children during the everyday circumstances. We can teach them how to choose friends wisely, how to treat others, how to respect themselves and to affirm them whenever we get the opportunity to do so…in order that they have the necessary self-esteem needed to get through what life holds for them in the future.

    When we do these things then we need to let them go and make their way in the world. They will make bad and good choices, but by the time they are of age all we can hope for is that most of their decisions are good ones. At that point we do not have any control.

    It takes time and years of learning this though, and as humans we do worry and wish sometimes that we still could help them make their choices.

    Lastly all that we can control is how we react to the situations and that’s all we have control over…..Diane


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