There are a few core philosophies that I feel have made a huge impact on the trajectory of my life.
One of those core philosophies is the idea of ownership.
To me, ownership is the idea that while we are not always responsible for the circumstances that life throws at us or the cards we are dealt, we ARE responsible and in control of how we react in any given moment.
Life is a series of unpredictable questions, but ownership is about accepting that we get a say in how we answer them.
The first time I made this realization, it also occurred to me just how many excuses I was making in my life:
"I can't be a designer because I don't have a formal degree or training.”
“My creative voice isn’t as unique as xyz artist.“
“I’m a really sensitive person and rejection hits me particularly hard; that's why I'm not putting myself out there more.”
Those things may or may not be true, but one thing is sure: I was using them to opt myself out of things I really wanted.
It took me a while to see that self-limiting thoughts like these were really my way of choosing the easier route in my life.
Yes, I said easier. I know, I know… if you’ve ever found yourself in a spiral of self-doubt, it certainly doesn’t FEEL easy, does it?
But the truth is, if we accept our perceived limitations, we never have to push ourselves beyond what’s comfortable, and that can be the easier choice. It means we never have to rise to the challenge of overcoming those limitations. Of pushing past what we think is possible. Of OWNING the fullness of the life we’re capable of creating for ourselves.
See, with ownership comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes fear — fear of failure and carrying the burden of potentially disappointing ourselves.
There are SO many times in life when we surrender our power to other people or even things.
Here are a just a few examples of ways we all can give away our power without realizing it:
To a significant other…
When we put the responsibility of feeling loved on the actions of a partner, we forget we have the power to love ourselves. When in a relationship, it’s natural to get caught up in what that person is or isn’t giving you, but in doing so you could be setting yourself up for always feeling disappointed, or even worse, unlovable. We have the power to make ourselves feel loved and cared for first, and realizing that power can often lead to more fulfilling and sustainable relationships.
To social media…
When we determine our self-worth based on the number of likes on a photo or the number of followers we have, we're letting arbitrary numbers and an algorithm dictate the confidence we have in our work. We're giving an app permission to take our power -- the power we have to cultivate our personal taste, to authentically love what we create, and to experience the pure joy of the creative process.
To our parents…
When we make choices about our careers or the path we choose based on what our parents want for us (not what we want for ourselves), we give them the power to dictate our happiness. We can still be grateful for the lessons they've taught us while staying true to where our hearts lead us.
Think about it — the list goes on and on, in moments both big and small.
The bad driver on the freeway who you give the power to steal your good mood. The teacher who said that one thing that one time and who still has you questioning your talent. The peer who you secretly envy and who diminishes your confidence because you keep a close eye on their work.
Each of these instances feels like it’s connected to an emotion we can’t control, but in truth WE are the ones that leave the door wide open for these feelings to creep in.
So what do we do instead? How do we reclaim the power we have to control our own satisfaction, confidence, and love for ourselves?
By choosing to focus less on the validation we crave from others — whether it be a partner, a family member, a friend, or a stranger on the internet — and more on ways to find validation within ourselves.
We do it by wearing that outfit that feels edgy or quirky but that makes us feel beautiful.
We do it by sharing our creative work and not looking at how many likes it gets.
We do it by silencing the self-critical tapes on repeat in our heads and rewriting them with compliments to ourselves.
We do it by remembering that no one else on this earth has to walk the path of our decisions each day, only we do. So, though people close to us may not understand every move that we make… respectfully, we can choose not to care all that much anymore.
So, this week I challenge you to ask yourself: Who or what are you giving away your power to?
And, what’s perhaps more important -- what is one way you can take it back?
Wishing you all a powerful and confident week!