We are often so caught up in life that we seem to actually miss it without realizing that it is passing us by. We sometimes play a supporting role or just even the extra instead of the leading role.
I am someone who is unbelievably hungry for life – the good and the ugly. Life has thrown so much at me and more often than not I was overwhelmed and on the verge of simply giving up. But I was always part of my own life and trying my best to live it to the fullest, to be the leading lady in my life – with one big exception…
There were 4,5 long years in my life when I was not in it, I was a bystander and at a certain point I lost myself so completely that I was just somehow functioning, trying to get from one day to the next and survive. I was in a extremely toxic relationship at the time, one that exhausted me mentally and even made me physically ill. It was almost a bit like sleepwalking in a nightmare 24/7. This relationship lasted six years and the first 1,5 years were ok but what followed was just a living nightmare – a life with a narcissist of the worst kind. I will spare you the details but if you want to know if you are in a relationship with someone with a narcissistic personality disorder, here is some information that might help to identify this: https://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder/. Thankfully my experience lies long behind me but sometimes I still react sensitive to any narcissistic behavior by others.
So I really know what it is like to not live your life and just being an audience of your own life. But how can this happen? One way I just explained from my own experience, but there are several other ways to fall into that trap.
- We grow up and are told that the needs of others are more important than ours, that we should be pleasant and aim to please. Depending on your personality you may take this a little too serious – and I find this statement to be downright wrong and destructive. I am not saying you should be a selfish idiot that doesn’t care about anyone but yourself – there are enough out there already – but you should know and feel that you are and should be the most important person in your life. That is a concept that many – especially mothers – struggle with.
- Responsibilities – and it doesn’t matter if they are self-imposed or if they developed over time. These can be resposibilities on the job, at home with your partner, with children, social life, communitiy, care for a realtive etc. Sometimes they just pile up and you do all you can to juggle all the balls and not drop a single one. It can be terrifying and exhausting and it is so easy to get lost in that process.
So how do you go from being a bystander of your life to taking over the leading role in your life again? This is very different for every individual but I believe the first step is to realize what is actually going on in your life and if there is someting you would really like to change – which is probably the easiest part. Changing something and taking charge is a process that can take time, depending on how you deal with certain issues. What makes the whole process so difficult is that we are masters in fooling ourselves that there are no options, that there is no other way to live.
What can really help is to find out more about yourself and an eye opener for me was the Enneagram – an assesment which I have been using for several years now in my consulting practice for individuals and companies.
Some people manage to get out of that rut by themselves, some with the help of friends and family and others find it easier to do this with a stranger – a therapist or coach. There is no wrong way to go about taking charge of your own life again and sometimes it is trial and error. It is just important that you do it, at your own speed and with the means that suit you.
It is quite a liberating feeling to play the leading role in your own life again and not watch it pass you by.