Are we losing control?

Linda Hoffman Two Cents Worth

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Are we giving our hard won autonomy away?

For the entire existence of the world, people have fought to be independent, have freedom, control over their own lives. This fight took the form of wars, rebellions, uprisings by countries, tribes, religions, ethnic groups. Some faction has always been in a battle to achieve self-governance and the struggle continues on many levels. Conflicts in many countries, as well as, the broader arguments by race, faith and gender are ongoing efforts which make some gains but have still been refused complete equal status or rights victories.

Individually, we also have fought for and/or relinquished personal control in a variety of relationships – parental, friendships, spouses, etc. I remember, as I am sure you do as well, being a teenager demanding the right to decide for myself what to do, wear, say and be. Well, we also all know what usually happened but we kept trying and gained a modicum of autonomy each time, which was short-lived if we stepped too far over the traces. Eventually, we were allowed some form of command over our own destiny.

Over our lifetime we found there was no choice but to give in to some outside demands such as employers, maybe doctors, often bankers or lawyers. Unless you are self-employed and financially independent you kind of have to do what you are told in order to survive.

Many of us handed over some or all of our hard won control, to another for a variety of reasons. We didn’t do it all at once saying, “Here take my life and do what you will.” We do it in such small increments we don’t even notice it’s missing.

Instinctually, we want to make another happy or to make them feel fulfilled, supported or give them a feeling of standing or consequence. Some might not feel qualified or just find it easier to let someone else take the reins and carry the burden. Some may do it out of anxiety or insecurity, to keep the peace or out of fear and/or safety reasons. It doesn’t matter how or why, we slowly but willingly allowed others to take dominance.

At some point over the years most of us realized we should never have been so willing to relinquish our independence. Sometimes it’s too late to take it back and sometimes we fight our hard won battles over again. Sometimes we cut our losses and let it go.

Regardless of the reason, when we surrender any authority over our own decisions and self-rule, we are guilty of abdicating our responsibilities. Mutual sharing, co-operation, combining, negotiating are all good things but allowing someone, anyone else to determine your self-determination is wrong on so many levels.

Less for us to worry about? Puts the onus on someone else? I think that has a lot to do with it and it may also be we don’t think some of it is that important or significant enough to quarrel over.

What we forget is nothing ever starts with the big stuff. It all builds from giving up the small stuff until we eventually have lost all.

We need to realize how easy it is to give away privileges and rights and to lose one’s own self in the process. As we get older we tend to second guess our abilities. We think others’ ideas might be more valid than our own so we possibly become more indecisive. We let others have more to say about how we handle our lives. We let others decide our activities, our health or medical care, our living arrangements, our independence.

Of course, we need to consult with those who love us and experts but we must stay in the game. We need to keep our minds and bodies working to full capacity by being social, active, positive, aware, involved and useful.

We must trust our own instincts and capabilities, do our own research, ask questions and study pros and cons to make decisions based on what we want, not what others think we need. Hold onto your right to make the necessary choices for yourself.

Getting old does not mean you revert back to childhood when others had the responsibility for your welfare. You are a grown up, with a lifetime of experience and knowledge with which you can manage your own life.