It can be quite useful having circumstances to blame. If you can always point to a reason why you could never have done something, you never have to prove that you could have done it under different circumstances. This happens to me at work. I can always make myself believe that the reason I never finish things properly is because there’s always too much to do. Of course if I had all the time in the world, I say, I’d have done a great job. But actually give me a quiet day and see if I really get a good rounded job done or whether I actually find something to distract me before I’m finished.
Look, we all know that our circumstances make a difference. They can make it easier or harder for us, and we can’t control them. But circumstances don’t have to control us either. A circumstance just means an external impulse that may warrant a reaction, but the circumstance on its own doesn’t determine what that action should be. That comes from you. It comes from your past, your current state of mind, your fundamental beliefs about yourself, how much energy and willpower you have. And it comes from your conscious choice.
This is actually one of my favourite affirmations: ‘I am not controlled by my circumstances. I make the decisions.’ This is a perfect candidate for priming: telling myself this at the beginning of the day makes me more likely to make a conscious choice rather than an unconscious, default action.
That’s all well and good, but some circumstances are ridiculously difficult to bear. Just a few affirmations aren’t enough to tackle that, right? Well, that’s true. It might not do the whole job. But it might just give you enough of an edge to stay on top of things while you get some help. Sometimes all you need is a little bit of perspective and support, and you can come through anything. You might not end up where you hoped you’d be, but you will be surprised by your resilience.
You are where you are partly because of your circumstances. But unlike a leaf blown by the wind, with no choice about how that happens, you can be more like a bird – deciding how to angle your wings to ride the wind, if not exactly where you want to go, then at least close. You don’t have to be a victim.