Ownership. When you own something,it’s yours.
No sharing, no interest, no back-up if something breaks. Good, bad, easy, or difficult– whatever you own, it is yours.
I’ve been mulling over this idea of ownership in the less tangible aspects of my life recently. It’s a concept I’m talking about with my teenagers as often as I can sneak it in. Own your part, own your choices, own your decisions, and plunge ahead.
In the process of talking more about this idea, I find myself staring off into space, considering my own ability to take ownership. As I get older and this stage in life presents more twists, turns, and trap doors, I find more grey than black and white when considering what’s mine and what’s really not.
Own My Parenting
As my kids approach driving age, so much of their lives I’m used to taking on really belongs to them. This shift is messy and uncertain. I feel like I failed with their failures at times, wondering if I couldn’t have done a better job teaching this or that. Do I give them too much freedom or not enough? When I feel frustrated with a lack of action on their part, I can also feel frustrated with myself. Because clearly I missed something if one child exhibits no consideration of the other and sharing the bathroom is something of a war zone. Meanwhile, my son launches his sister’s shoes, dirty practice clothes, and even her backpack into the hallway outside the bathroom door without a word. Her incredulous look did not match my raucous laughter. And in that moment, I realized that I can’t own my kids’ choices. Those are theirs to own. I can own my part in response to their choices–good and bad–but the space I’ve given them to make their own informed decisions within my parenting rules is all theirs. Consequences, wins, mistakes, and all.
Owning the Past
I’ve been divorced now nearly as long as I was married, so how can I possibly still sift through what feels like two lifetimes ago and wonder if it could’ve been different. Slow eye roll, long groan, bang forehead on table. This is a complete waste of time. But sometimes I wonder if I could’ve made things different. When I moved on, that meant taking a long, honest inventory of my actions, my intentions, and my ability to control which parts of What Went Wrong. I know precisely what my part was, took ownership of it, made it as right as possible, and took a step toward a better version of myself. Owning my faults and mistakes provided me with the opportunity to understand how I got there and the freedom to honestly leave those things behind for good. Without owning them, they owned me in the form of guilt, resentment, fear, and enough doubt that I could not imagine ever trusting another human being again. That is no way to live. So when I owned my part in allowing myself to get to a place so far past my personal boundaries, I could not have found my way back without owning that I was responsible for that. I don’t have to go there today because my responsibility lies in remembering that I cleaned my side of the street, and that’s all of the street I own.
Owning the Present
Freedom comes with ownership. When we are out of debt, we own our finances. We get to make decisions without the compulsory approval of anyone or anything else. Ownership in my life allows me to identify what’s my responsibility and what is not. When I focus on owning my place in my present situation, my stress shrinks, my To Do list shortens, and I serve those around me in an infinitely more supportive way. Instead of worrying about things that I can’t even hope to influence, I become free to support and only if requested. When I own my role as a mom, a co-parent, a co-worker, or friend, the only part I have to play is my own.
So if you’re in a frenzied spot where you don’t know whether you’re coming or going, stop and define what’s yours and what isn’t. Then own those things, act accordingly, and move on. I find I’m most effective and helpful when someone asks rather than when I jump on their side of the street.
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