Take Charge of Your Life

Taking ChargeMy friend Dee was recovering from breast cancer and, to her horror, she discovered there were no hospice services in her region. So she organized a hospice Society, which created a hospice facility.

Five years later Dee had a recurrence of cancer and was failing. I mumbled something about dying of cancer and she retorted, “I’m not dying of cancer; I’m living with cancer.” She was saying that while cancer may be a fact of her life, she is in charge of living her life…until it’s over. She died a few weeks later…

Dee had a big impact on me. I reflected on times in my life when I had felt trapped. I realized that each time I allowed that feeling to persist, I was telling myself I was a victim and not in charge of my life. I was just making excuses for not taking charge and doing something.

Think about it: every time you blame something on a circumstance, your partner, your genes, your age or your addiction, you are making yourself a victim.

[SIZEWARP]The good news is that to lead a meaningful, fulfilling and mostly happy life, you need to take charge of living your life.[/SIZEWARP] Being more in charge of your living, however, is not an all-or-nothing thing. You begin with the choice to take charge of something, and then follow that choice with a myriad of further choices.

When young Bill was in high school he heard somewhere that the University computer Center was open for non-university people to use from 2 to 4 AM every night. He chose to set his alarm, sneak out of the house, go to learn by doing in the computer center every night, sneak back into his room and go to sleep. (His parents couldn’t understand why he was so tired in the daytime.) Bill Gates’s choice to take charge at that young age has affected virtually every home, office and school in North America and in much of the rest of the world. It has also led to the largest charitable donation in human history.

When Michael was a freshman at University in 1984, his parents made a surprise visit to his dorm room. “Where are your books?” his dad queried. Michael admitted he had chosen to spend his book money on computer parts to make computers for other students. “But don’t you see dad, there is no middleman? In 10 years I’ll be bigger than IBM.” His next choice was to leave University. In 10 years to the month Michael Dell’s sales surpassed those of IBM.

In the worst known case of child abduction and abuse, Jaycee Dugard was abducted at 11 and kept as a sex slave for 18 years. At 13 she gave birth to a daughter. She said in an interview that the birth of her daughter and her choice to be a good mother gave her life meaning and probably saved her life. She wrote, “I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.”

If Dee and Jaycee could choose to be in charge of their living, can’t we all? To what extent have you chosen to be in charge of your living?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
The following two tabs change content below.
Dr. Neill Neill retired his psychology practice at the end of 2013. He maintains an active coaching practice via telephone or Skype with select clients dealing with alcoholic husbands or ex-husbands. Check out his book, Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman's Survival Guide. http://drneillneill.com

5 thoughts on “Take Charge of Your Life

  1. Hi,

    How wonderful to hear from you – so pleased to hear you are recovering well. Over the years I have thoroughly enjoyed your articles, there is always a nugget of wisdom in there to glean – great having you back to continue your valuable articles. Your articles have touched a lot of lives.

    Cheers to you, and welcome back!!!!!

    Kindest Regards,


  2. Neill,
    I am happy your recovery is going well. Everyone of your missives is inspiring to me in just the way I need at that moment. Each day you and your loved ones are in my thoughts.

  3. Thank you for this article. And thank you for your wonderful knowledge. It helps a lot. Good luck in your recovery.

  4. Your articles always make me think about my life. I can really relate to this one. I am visually impaired which sometimes makes it hard to be in charge of your own life when you have to depend on your spouse. I am afraid to take charge; it is harder to make those decisions when you live with a high functioning alcoholic. I get numb to it and what am I doing to my son, by not taking charge of my life. I worry about the impact on him. He hates his dad. It is tough. I guess I’ll figure it out. I am also glad you are doing better in your rehab. You are an inspiration.

Leave a Comment