Lately, this theme has been repeatedly coming up for me in many different forms. In determining the guest lists to several gatherings, while driving through the city and giving money to a homeless person, when starting the conversation about about hard things, I have been bumping into this truth over and over:
---> I can only be responsible for my own story <---
Which means, the only thing I really have control over is my own actions and choices. Everything else beyond that is someone else's story. The nuances are subtle and it's often hard to discerned where to draw the line between myself and someone else, because all of our stories overlap. It's tricky business. But the danger is that by taking on or presuming too much of someone else's narrative, especially if it is only theoretical on my part, I can become paralyzed by outcomes that may not even real or have absolutely nothing to do with me.
Thinking about all these possible contraindications - like inviting someone to the party who might end up coming because they feel obligated or not inviting someone at all and leaving them feeling slighted, or my money being spent on drugs instead of a nourishing meal, or making someone feel uncomfortable with a truth about who I am, stops me from acting on my best intentions that ultimately could help to serve and connect me with others. These connections are important and matter!
There is no exact formula for how to move through life, but I do think that if my actions align with my core values and truths, and I am also considerate and take reasonable care with how others might feel, and then let go of any guilt and the outcomes and reactions I can not control, this is where my best work can be done. It looks something like this...
(core intention + thoughtful consideration + kind action) - (guilt + other narratives) = Best Living Truth
It's not perfect. I can only try, and sometimes I will fail. But carrying only the weight of what is my own makes navigating life choices a little bit easier. I can move through those tight spaces without all that added bulk because carrying other people's expectations and stories is simply what I do out of fear - fear of negative feelings that might be directed toward me. This gets in the way of being and doing what I am meant to.
So, this is a big burden I am ready to set down.