On being responsible for our lives

Dear quarter lives,

In the grand scheme of things, much that happens in our lives is insignificant. Yet sometimes it feels very significant to us. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff yet we find ourselves soaking in them. Sometimes, I find myself carried away by waves of anger and resentment over what seems to other people like the tiniest things, but to me they are not tiny, they mean something and that is important. I didn’t used to think so, precisely because of sayings like don’t sweat the small stuff which I get helps put things in a larger perspective but that’s fine when an emotion has been processed or an agitation has been expressed. But if for instance, someone was a little rude to you and you felt upset at a remark they said but you told yourself well I’m going to let it go because I’m trying this new thing where I don’t sweat the small stuff, the reality is that you did sweat it but you internalised it. I am just coming to understand that our anger is very useful and very important in helping us establish our boundaries with others and the reason anger gets such a bad rep is because of how people express it so the problem isn’t expressing you are upset but it is how you express you are upset. And the thing is it is extremely important to express when we are upset, it is important because in doing so we are expressing our boundaries to another so that in the future they do not cross them. Our boundaries help keep us safe. And if we don’t express to others when they have crossed these boundaries then we are deliberately putting ourselves in danger. It is up to us to speak up for ourselves and defend our borders. And having boundaries is the key to any healthy relationship, including our relationship with ourselves. If we disregard when our boundaries have been crossed because we don’t want to upset another or because we don’t want this person to think we don’t love them, then we are jeopardising our own relationship with ourselves, we are threatening the level of trust we have with ourselves.

For the longest time, I would blame myself when I got upset with someone, telling myself I was too soft, too sensitive, that I needed to grow tougher skin. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all my health issues are skin related. I’ve rejected my own boundaries because they were not in par with what other people expected. I realise now how important it is to respect my own boundaries, and despite how uncomfortable I find confrontation, I must always vocalise when my boundaries have been crossed. And I notice that when I do, the anger fades and there is no residue of emotion lingering still in my body. All the anger we hold is anger that was unexpressed. And usually this anger will also direct inwards because self is angry at itself for not standing up for itself and vocalising to the other person they have crossed their boundary. When anger lingers, sometimes it is because there is a part of the situation that we need to take responsibility for. And that may include how we react to a situation. When someone has wronged us perhaps we might know where to put our anger but what happens when it doesn’t come from someone, like a health condition or a loved one dying. Even then, anger lingers because we have yet to feel safe again within our boundaries. And in such situations, we must make peace with whatever has happened. To accept it. To release blaming it for the outcome of our lives. Because one will never be free if one cannot take ownership over one’s decisions and actions regardless of what could have happened that have steered events in a particular direction. Life might strike us but it is always in our power to strike back as an equal actor in this relationship, or accept defeat and give our power away as we play our role as victim. It is not easy to realise one has been playing victim, it is not easy too to realise one has been an active participant in starving oneself of power, but the first step towards regaining that power is to realise oh shit I did make those choices.

To be an adult is to be responsible, and to be response-able, is to recognise one’s ability to respond.

When we are in a place where we are unable to take responsibility, we are literally saying I don’t think I have the ability to respond, this is all happening to me.

So dear quarter lives, learn to recognise your own ability to respond. Learn to use that ability wisely, for it is YOUR POWER. It is what you have to live well and to live free.

May we all have the courage to reclaim our responsibility and take back our power.

With love and as always for peace,


One comment

  1. Ghada · June 23, 2021

    Thank you, Shahinda ❤
    one of my favorite DQL entries


    Liked by 1 person

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