Are You Driving Your Own Life, or Is Someone Else?

If you don’t feel in control of your own life, chances are you aren’t. If you feel like others (e.g. your parents, your spouse, your employer) have more influence over the decisions you make, you may not be driving your own life. It’s an existential question: how do I live life on my own terms, as the driver in my own life, and how do I own responsibility for the successes (and failures) that I create?

Living life for other people is living an inauthentic life. If you’re trying to please others to the point that you modify the way you live your life, you’ll never be able to satisfy people to the point that it matters.

When we live for others (outside forces), it’s always changing. People have needs that are different from ours, and they’re always changing. Trying to meet the demands of others is an exercise in futility.

You may be living life for others if you:

1. Make decisions not on what you want, but for other peopleLive Life On Your Own Terms

2. Work harder to please others than yourself

3. Are too afraid to make decisions for yourself, or fear the outcome if you do.

4. Would rather be told what to do than venture out on your own

5. Constantly feel guilty, and want to be doing something else than what you are doing

Anger and resentment are byproducts of not living your life for yourself. Regret also comes into play years down the line when you realize that you haven’t wanted to live life on your own terms.

Dealing with the fear of stepping up to take back our life from others is a big task. Usually, it involves doing some real soul searching to figure out that you’re even doing it in the first place. Often times, we’re disempowering ourselves and don’t even know it. We’re caught in the habit of making decisions about our lives unconsciously.

A lot of people get hooked on following their parents’ lead on decisions, because that’s what we did as kids. We follow their lead, especially when there’s been an overzealous parent who made the rules. As adults, we emotionally “forget” that our life can be led by ourselves, and forget to drop the obligation to other people, like a parent.

If you think you’re living for others’, you can take back your life. You have to take a deep look at the factors that inhibit you, such as:

  • fear of success
  • fear of failure
  • letting people down in your life
  • upsetting people close to you
  • not believing in yourself
  • not having faith in your abilities

You’ll feel happier and more satisfied with your own life knowing it’s on your terms. It’ll be yours to live, not anyone else’s, and that’s what characterizes a good man.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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2 Responses to Are You Driving Your Own Life, or Is Someone Else?

  1. Mikk says:

    Jason, after reading this post, I feel like I’m the most selfish person in the world because I don’t live for other people at all. More than anything, I live for myself and do what I want for myself with the knowledge that as long as I’m a good person and doing things to make myself successful, that the people most important in my life…my wife and my 2 kids will eventually benefit from it. As such, I definitely don’t live for others but more myself. Man…again that sounds selfish!

  2. Jason says:

    Mikk, I understand what you’re saying. It sounds like some rationalization may be happening. Maybe you want to talk with your wife and see what her experience is, to get some feedback from her about what needs she has and how you could be meeting them. It’s easy to forget about other peoples’ needs when we get so “myopic” about our own. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

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