Taking responsibility for your life is the most empowering thing you can do

by Charlotte Fantelli

It appears stating that people are in control of their own life and attitude is a most unpopular notion, but it is (in my humble opinion) not pointing fingers, rather empowering people to not be confined by excuses and take their lives into their own hands. Here's what I mean:

Yesterday I tweeted a most unpopular tweet, I said 'when we start taking responsibility for our own lives we realise how full of opportunity the world already is.'  Perhaps a platform of 140 characters was not the place to come forward with such a remark without context, it certainly created some tension.  Because of course without context people can interpret these words in one of two ways:  1, as it was meant) An inspiring pearl of wisdom that we are all in control of our own destiny NOT the sum of what people have done to us or that which ails us.  2) An accusatory remark telling people it is 'their own fault' they are where they are. Sadly some people interpreted it as the latter.

Bad things happen to good people, of course they do, there are atrocities and crimes, diseases and afflictions that are cruel, ravaging and disempowering.  Mental illness, rape, domestic abuse, sickness of a loved one for example. NONE of these are someone's FAULT. 

BUT, and yes a most unpopular but by the look of it, once someone or something has robbed you of power, once you have been left devastated by being made a victim, the power is then yours once again to choose what to do with your life, to turn from victim into survivor. Think of it like this:

Actually I'm not going to be quite that radical, depending on what has 'happened' the % could be a lot different and really when something has JUST happened that percentage swing is likely the other way around. But slowly and surely through hard work and determination we CAN take back control of our own lives.  Now I am not saying we are all going to be perfect, paragons of virtue that are never afflicted or affected again, what I am saying is when we stop blaming something or someone else for not being who or where we want to be, we are powerful beyond belief.

Of course there are exceptions and if you are terminally ill, or afflicted with daily chronic pain for example, you are not going to be inspired or pleased with a (mostly) able bodied young woman telling you the above - absolutely understood.  But to the other 99% of you reading this you have the power to be what you want to be, do what you want to do and allow yourself the freedom from the bad things in life.  And I have earned my stripes in that regard, all the examples in paragraph three I have experienced and I remember the day my life changed beyond recognition was the day I realised that however many scars I had, however painful life had been, I had the choice of letting it make me or break me and I chose for it to make me.  

Like it or not it was a choice.

There will always be hard times, always reasons not to do things, excuses and people to blame (not to mention the government which people love to blame for so many things). Reasons not to move jobs, move house, tell someone you love them, write that book, have that child, start that charity, run that marathon... But the reason TO do it is because you deserve to take responsibility for your own life, take the control away from those things that wrong you and own the power to make it happen.

There is always a choice...

Don't believe me? Look up Henry Fraser on twitter, he'll teach you the above in a much better way than me... 


Whilst I understand the sentiment behind these words, I would like to say that people who view the world this way, rarely allow for Autism, development problems and acquired brain injury. These people often cannot just pick up the reins again, they don't always have the ability to move on from abuse, theirs is a life long disability and vulnerability which often leaves them with mental health problems to deal with as well. So while I have no wish to say you are wrong, your way of thinking that everyone is capable of 'getting over it' makes you friend to services and governments and not popular with disabled people. I note that your idea of people with pain that would be hard to manage ( but acceptable) are physically affected, what about the hidden disabilities of the mind?
Hi there, I actually agree with you to a large extent. This is why I wrote 'for example' there are of course reasons people will find it much more difficult, but after building mental healthy to help such people and create education and support, I also felt it important to share the 'personal responsibility' side of recovery. There are of course exceptions and it is only part of recovery not all of it, BUT it is an important part and an empowering one as it gives the 'victim' opportunity to take steps towards 'survivorhood'. It is a view that within 2500 pages of information and sympathetic support, needed to be said, again there are exceptions to this, but there are exceptions to every point of view, I just hope that the large percentage of people this view will help are able to accept their responsibility and live in the freedom it gives them. Those that cannot, I fully accept it is a view that may be disagreed with. Charlotte
I suffered for ages, still am. It started with worrying and soon progressed into OCD and then schizoprenia-jackblueblog.wordpress.com
I completely agree, though we are all at different stages in our journey. I was sectioned twice and within the last hospital stay I realised that no-one really understood what I felt and experienced because I have a unique way of looking at things, as we all do - we are an island in our beliefs and experiences - though in a larger perspective we are all connected... and I decided there and then to take responsibility for how I looked at my experiences and the diagnoses of bipolar disorder. I believe that many of the experiences that were called "psychotic" were in fact spiritual occurrences that I had no previous knowledge about and because I didn't trust the "take medication and you'll survive" route, I took myself of medication and have dedicated the last 8 years to keeping well through my own hard work. To me society too much relies on doctors who learn from others, handed down knowledge, rather than using experiential knowledge from patients that have recovered. In addition, the doctors work from one paradigm or reality, not allowing for the very different way that we might choose to se the world and reality. One person hearing voices, can actually be a medium speaking with spirits. depending on your believe we are all right, there is no "I'm right so you are wrong", however that is not the case as soon as someone is a "Doctor" and we are told they know better! With gentle self-compassion, we can all learn to face up to everything we've even done and experienced, and learn to forgive ourselves and those around us that have led to upsets, abuse, violence, whatever has contributed to our mental illness... most of humanity has been hurt throughout their childhood by their parents, however much they had good intentions, and so everyone has continued the cycle of hurt instead of getting the help and becoming loving individuals. When we take responsibility, we begin to break the cycle, not through blame, but by starting our own healing, and drawing a line underneath what has gone before and knowing that we all have power deep down inside to make last changes to ourselves, our behaviours, our feelings and as we do so, the outside world will also change, when humanity comes to a more loving place ... love to you all i hope you find the courage to make lasting changes to your lives and begin to love yourself and create lives that you are happy with!
A great response. I wish you well on your journey. Unfortunately I totally see your point of view re mental health services. The idea of expertise in mental health and where that "expertise" lies really needs to be challenged strongly. I have worked in the NHS as a psychologist and have been told by colleagues the "type" of people I should and shouldn't see. With IAPT services are categorising people very quickly and offering sometimes very inappropriate interventions (self help books, CBT groups for anxiety (where the problem may actually be something like work stress)). In my experience, people are best served when you listen to them and hear things from their "expert" point of view. In other words, you listen, discuss and validate what they say rather than dismiss it with your "expert" opinion. Sometimes people need a psychological model or other information, not to tell them "what's wrong" with them, but to help them understand what might be going on and empower them to make good decisions for themselves. Any service which closes down opportunities for people and labels them and puts them in a box is not fit for purpose. We need to open up possibilities for people and enable them (whatever their circumstances) to fulfil their potential and work to their strengths rather than concentrate on their limitations.
Hi Charlotte, Thank you for this blog post, it is very encouraging! I too am documenting my journey as I recover from anorexia. I can relate very much to a lot of what you have said in this post, and am hoping that I will continue to rediscover myself as I improve my mental health. everystepanotherstory.blogspot.co.uk
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At the end of the day, you only have yourself to fall back on, so it is exceedingly important to be able to handle things on your own. It is all about being secure with who you are and what you believe in write my assignment uk It is extremely empowering knowing that you are in control of your own life and your own choices. It is much more beneficial to listen to the voice inside yourself rather than the berating opinions of others.
Thank you for your site. My own novel may be of interest to you: http:www.survivingschizophrenia.website