Life Matters

A self-directed life

Is a self-directed life the best way to live? What I mean by a self-directed life is that we take responsibility for the decisions we make. We do not always have control over what happens in our life, but we do have control over how we respond. Therefore, we can direct ourselves out of situations we do not like and direct our lives into areas we will find more satisfying. Let me explain.

My mother grew up in the 30’s and 40’s which was a time when societal values directed women’s lives. Even in the decades that followed there was very little self-direction for women. Young girls, including myself, were indoctrinated into the way we should behave – our place in the world. Men had more freedom and authority then women at home, in the workplace and in the community. That is just the way the world was. Fortunately, there were women who saw the injustice in this arrangement and stepped out of the stereotype to become the face of change. The conversation about gender equality began and continues today.  

One of the factors that held women back from a self-directed life was the lack of access to contraception. Without this women continually had children tied to their apron strings. While some women relished motherhood it often came with a successful, thoughtful and kind husband. There was no domestic violence in the relationship. No continually coming home late at night, or spending half of the food money at the pub. The relationship was loving and stable.

Life works best if we take responsibility for our own load.

Even in the 80’s and 90’s some women struggled to live a self-directed life. I have known a few women who were able to take responsibility for their life through education. One woman after four children went on to study at university. She was empowered to think for herself, to learn, to discover new pathways and late became economically independent. In living a self-directed life thinking is a key enabler. Thinking helps to plan, to set goals and opens the way to a self-directed life. If we are not thinking for ourselves and allowing others to think for us, we will find ourselves in a place of unfulfillment.

Another woman I knew was in a psychologically abusive relationship. She developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder. As she was economically dependent on her husband her life was controlled by him. She asked me how she could get a better paying job and I mentored her through a time in her life when she needed support. A few years later with a degree and a job she left her husband. He came and visited my O&O and I on one occasion, we knew the couple very well, and he berated me for guiding his former wife into a self-directed life. Instead of him taking responsibility for what happened in his relationship he blamed me!

Today I have concentrated on a self-directed life concerning women. Life and relationships work best when couples work together and agree on a self-directed partnership. Each one taking responsibility for the success of the relationship. I will have more to say about this on another occasion. In the meantime, if you have any views please share them with me and other readers.

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