We all have the power to produce the lives we want to live. The thing is, though everyone has that same power, many people don’t believe that they have it. Really, because they don’t believe in their own capabilities, they don’t even know what kind of life they want to live. It appears that for those who don’t see their own power to create their lives, life is a series of events that lead to little more than death. To put it another way, for those that don’t believe in their own power to create their lives: Life seems to suck and then they die. But, the circumstances of their lives produce evidence that suggests that no one has the power to create healthy, meaningful, and prosperous lives.
For example, consider a young boy who grows up without a father. Consider further that this young boy’s mother struggles through a poverty-stricken life to raise her son. Without a doubt, she loves her son, but hates his father. She outwardly blames the man for everything that has gone wrong in her life. The boy, meanwhile, hears all of her hatred and can’t help but wonder if he is anything like his father. He sees his mother struggle and grow in bitterness and, though she tells him she loves him, he doubts her words.
Then, he starts school and because of his chaotic home life, he has a hard time with the regimented approach of the classroom. He may have the intelligence, but his attempts at academic achievement fall below the standards that the teachers set for him. He just can’t keep up and fades into the bottom percentile. His teachers may tell him that he has the capacity to do anything which he sets his mind upon, but the evidence of his grades and of what his mother’s struggle and hatred provide him more evidence that he can’t do anything, at least not anything good. Soon, he may either isolate himself or find other kids who can’t do anything good. Then, together, they do all kinds of “not good” things, maybe even use drugs and/or alcohol, until one day; they all believe that they, as people, are no good. Chances are, the young boy will grow to be chemically and psychologically dependent upon drugs and/or alcohol. If I were to tell this person who has developed such a strong negative perception that he has the capacity to create his life, he’d probably look at me like I’ve lost my mind.
As a treatment provider, it would be my responsibility to find ways that this person could begin to see his capacity to create the life he wants. Really, it begins with him just describing how he wants his life to look. Then, together, he and I would come up with ways that he could achieve that view of his life. But, really, we’d have to find evidence that does in fact have the capacity to create that life he wants. But, amid all the poverty, bitterness, and hatred, it may seem impossible to find that purpose-sustaining evidence. It’s there though.
I’ve seen some of the toughest people begging judges for their freedom. That desire to live without boundaries is evidence of simply wanting to live life. To me, that desire to live is a good place to start. I may have to reveal other types of bars that present limits, but that’s all they are: Limits that can be overcome. Going back to the boy, had he been put in situations where he could see his own efforts leading to mastery, he may have a hint that he does have the power within himself to create a life. If he didn’t get put into enough of those types of situations when he was growing up, then it may be up to me and other treatment providers to not only put him and people like him into situations that they can master, but also, we need to show them and have them understand that they themselves mastered the situation.
We all have the capacity to create the lives we want to live. We all have to first realize our own perceived limitations and then overcome them. It may not happen all at once but if we can name the things we need to do, do them, and continue to persist in doing them, the lives we want to live will emerge. We just have to see that we have the capacity within ourselves to overcome the bad juju we believe.