Quote of the Week 21: Who, and what, dictates your life?

Just how free are we to live our own life as we want to? We are not alone. Other people can dictate many of the circumstances of our life. But, does that mean we are creatures of circumstance? Or can we still be the architects of our own life? Let Mandela teach us….

Do we blame circumstances? Make excuses?

Many men have been challenged, by their wife, for failing to do something that she sees as important. This could be the wife’s complaint:

“Excuses, excuses! All I hear from you is excuses!

How many times have we all heard that one? Maybe we’ve even  been the person told off!

It’s so true isn’t it? Life is full of excuses; and what’s the inevitable result? Countless things get left undone, that should have been done. It’s a huge temptation for every one of us. We often hear words such as these:

“It wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t help it.”

“Why not?”

That’s when the excuses begin:

“Well, this happened; that stopped me; I didn’t have such and such.”

On and on flow the excuses, one after another. Why are we so weak in this way?

Not rocket science, is it? Why do we make excuses? Because we all detest being wrong. We all hate to admit we’ve failed. We never want to suffer the shame of blame. We refuse to accept responsibility.

So, whose fault is it then, that it didn’t get done? Who, or what, do we blame?

The quote from Thomas Carlyle hits the nail on the head: circumstances are to blame!

Have we any control over circumstances?

So, is Carlyle right or wrong? Are we at the mercy of circumstances? Or is it rather that we ourselves create the circumstances, and therefore must accept responsibility for what we do?

Like most things in life, it’s not a simple yes or no. It’s a bit of both.

Yes, of course, we are creatures of circumstances, to a certain extent. There are countless things, all around us in life, that are beyond our control. Therefore they stop us from doing all kinds of things, we might want to do.

Take the neighbourhood, for example, or the country where you’re brought up. That circumstance, that environment, can have a massive influence on who, and what, you become.

But that’s not the end of the story, is it? Why not? Because, as we know very well, we all have free-will.

Personal Freedom versus circumstances

We have the power of personal choice. We can decide how we live our life, what we think, what we do, what we love, what we hate. Circumstances do challenge our choices, but they never destroy our personal freedom.

There are so many living examples of people, who learn to overcome the circumstances of their birth and upbringing. They start to take better control of their life. They choose a better way; so can we.

Let Robbin Island inspire you

Many difficult circumstances really can be overcome; they don’t have to dictate our life. Think of Nelson Mandela, 28 years in prison on Robbin Island. His case is famous, because he freely chose not to let that terrible circumstance destroy him. In his body, mind and spirit, he rose above his difficult surroundings, and emerged a world-wide hero for so many people. So, how did he do that?

In spite of the appalling circumstances of prison life, his heart and mind were still full of love, forgiveness, and peace. Many others would have surrendered to such awful circumstances, and become angry and bitter, filled with thoughts of hatred and revenge. Life’s all down to how we choose to respond.

So, we see that circumstances are indeed a huge part of our lives. Nevertheless, how we react to them is up to us. We always have a choice. We can be positive or negative in our response.

The wisdom of Carlyle

Thus I feel that Carlyle’s quote contains a huge amount of truth. We’re all invited to make best use of our gift of personal freedom, and become the architect of our circumstances. We’re free to react, in any way we wish, to the circumstances that surround us: negatively, or positively.

We can choose negativity: we can give up, throw in the towel, and blame the circumstances of our life.

Or we can be positive: we can choose to decide for ourselves many of the circumstances, that we will allow into our life. For the most part, we can choose how we respond to what life throws at us.

We are in control. It’s our life. We have inner freedom. Let’s never forget what Mandela taught us.

Gerry McCann


P.S. Please leave a comment about one circumstance in your life that’s been a problem, and what you did to overcome it.


“Quote of the Week 21: Who, and what, dictates your life?”

  1. Patricia Buolamwini says:

    Having received so much love and care and trying to carry the baton to the next generation but challenging health issues..

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