Thursday, 8 May 2014

Sweeping Your Side of the Street

Excerpt from "Give YourSelf Permission to Live Your Life", by Priya Rana Kapoor
Chapter Seven: Give YourSelf Permission to Take Back Your Life

I often ask clients if they have “swept their side of the street”. If we envision our lives as a row of houses, we can imagine how each occupant is only responsible for clearing autumn leaves or snow from the area in front of their own property. They might look disapprovingly at the mess in front of the house across the street, but its upkeep isn’t really any of their business, and it certainly isn’t their responsibility. We can always help our neighbours, but we cannot do their work for them. If the mess is in someone else’s front yard, legally we’re not even allowed to go onto their property without permission!

When issues arise in our lives, we need to ask ourselves if we’ve done whatever is most responsible in the given situation. Have we taken control over those elements that are within our circle of control? Have we done what we’re supposed to do in a way that’s consistent with what we believe to be important?

When we’re able to take responsibility for our own lives and sweep our side of the street, life becomes more manageable. As we spend less time wrestling with the mess outside other people’s houses, it becomes easier for us to be more authentic as our real selves and to be proud to invite others over for a barbecue in our yard.

Once I understood that I was making decisions for myself based on others’ circumstances and desires, I started to look around and pay attention to what I would like to do. I decided I wanted to move back to London from Los Angeles. I wouldn’t be a less responsible daughter and granddaughter if I no longer ran around trying to organise every aspect of other people’s lives. In fact, I could be a better daughter and granddaughter by being responsible for myself. I could stop blaming my family situation for the things that I perceived as being wrong with my life, and I could love and support my family members from a position of trust. I could trust them to care for themselves and ask for help when they needed it. I would always be there for them. At the same time, I had to trust in myself to make the decisions that were right for me. It was such a relief to take personal responsibility, to sweep my side of the street and to leave others to maintain their own properties.

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