To be in charge or in control – decide now

In charge or in control

Do I want to be in charge or to be in control? Such an important question, one I asked myself often this week. The answer may be subtle but essential for personal peace and happiness.

Last week I wrote a blog about the things we can control in our lives. If you missed it, you can check the post here. I don’t know what I was thinking when I posted it, because the topic is far more complex.

Control of others

Control is defined as the power to influence or direct other people’s behaviour or the course of events. It implies the use of force on a personal or public level.

That sits uncomfortably with me, because I want other people to manage their own lives and let me get on with mine. I want to choose what I do, and also to make my own mistakes.

Parents are responsible for their children, but that responsibility gradually diminishes as kids maturee charge of their own lives.

The process is called growing up! Parents, however reluctantly, must let go, regardless of how painful that can feel at the time.

The desire or attempt to control other people, even our children, leads to unhappiness for ourselves as well as for them. Anyone who has tried to control a baby’s sleep behaviour, for example, knows the struggle that trying to control causes.

Similarly, it’s impossible to control other external events, although we often have the power to influence them through our behaviour, wisdom, guidance or support.

Control of ourselves

Trying to control ourselves involves conforming to the expectations of other people through ‘willpower’. We give others the power to dictate our behaviour, which becomes rigid and unthinking.

As a consequence, we feel badly about ourselves when we fail. We feel angry and frustrated when we become disempowered.

Taking charge of our own lives is the much better option.

In charge of ourselves

To be in charge, to be responsibile for ourselves, implies a desire to be the protagonist in our own lives rather than using others’ opinion as a guide.

As Hilde says in her blog on the subject, ‘What does it mean to be in charge of your own life?’

‘ … it means that you are being true to your self and your life purpose… Taking charge of one’s life is the single most important shift of perception towards living a life free of suffering and despair. ‘

Being in charge of our lives means that we take full responsibility for what we think, say and do, as well as for our own well-being, starting now.

How to take responsibility

Here are some suggestions about assuming responsibility for ourselves.

  • Decide whether you want to be in control or in charge.
  • Choose to take responsibility for your life. Stay with the decision.
  • Accept the authority for what you think, say and do. Don’t give your power to others, but make your own decisions in spite of what others think or say.
  • Educate yourself through research and decide what is right for you.
  • Ask for advice and seek counselling if you want support, but remember you are the authority in your life.
  • Make decisions knowing you will be responsible for the outcomes.
  • Take action as soon as you’ve decided what you want. While positive thoughts matter, they must be followed with action. Start to move towards what you want. Act decisively.
  • Accept that you’ll fail. The only people who don’t fail are those who do nothing. At the same time, don’t be afraid of failure. You can always try again.
  • Be your own best friend. Love and support yourself. Remember all the things you’ve accomplished. Make a note of all your talents. Talk well of yourself.
  • Remind yourself often of how good it is to be taking charge of your life.
  • Let the past go. Let go the burden of things that you cannot change so that you don’t drag old baggage into your new life. The freedom from the past will help you make good decision for the future.
  • Look for others who already take responsibility for their own lives and for those who hope to. You can be role models, company and support for each other.
  • Set goals that will ensure whether you are in charge or in control.
  • Start immediately. If you find yourself resisting, work out why and find some ways to move forward, even a little.


As Hilde says,

‘If you want something to change, change something. Start NOW, and do not waste another minute feeling less than great!’

I’d love to hear your opinion about this blog. Please leave your comments.


Photography by Jenny O’Callaghan

4 replies on “To be in charge or in control – decide now”

  1. AS I am getting older I want more than ever to only be responsible for myself. However having a couple members of my family who have disabilities I have to fight the system to get them help. One thing I keep telling people is I can’t do it anymore. It is starting to work but the fight takes so much out of me I have to keep reminding myseeeelf about self-care.

    1. You’ve done an amazing job of caring for your family over all the years I’ve known you Miriam, and I’m sure it’s time to pass the responsibility on. You do need to look after yourself.

  2. Some important things to remember here about whether we are in charge of our lives or let others control our thoughts and actions.

    Also, thanks for including the thought that mirrors one of my favorites, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Of course, that could mean to make change in yourself first. Another thought, to “love your neighbor as yourself,” suggests that we should first love ourselves and still be selfless.

    Again, thanks for your blog.

    1. Hi, Margie. Thank you for your thoughtful comments on my post. I’m pretty sure the only change I can bring about in the world or in my community or family is the change that makes me a better person, perhaps kinder, less judgemental, more humble. Totally agree about loving our neighbour as ourselves implies that we have to love ourselves first.

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