migrated from blogger – original post dated February 16, 2008

I read multiple books on multiple subjects at any one time and I make no apologies for it.

This morning I woke at 6:30 a.m., my usual time, weekdays or weekends it doesn’t matter I’m awake before 7 a.m. After a shower I decided to paint my nails (a new development in my ‘pampering me’ stage of life). Of course I needed coffee and a book. So I decided it was high time I began reading Alfred Adler’s “What Life Could Mean To You”.

I’ve barely made it past the introduction and have discovered, to my surprise and delight, that he was a colleague and strong influence on Rudolf Dreikurs, who wrote my favorite parenting book of all time, “Children: The Challenge” in the 1960’s.

Here is a particular passage from the introduction that caught my interest:

“In Adler’s words, ‘No experience is in itself a cause of success or failure. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences – the so-called traumas – but instead make out of them whatever suits our purposes. We are not determined by our experiences but are self-determined by the meaning we give to them…As soon as we find and understand the meaning a person ascribes to life, we have the key to the whole personality.’”

When I read something like the passage above, I find myself experiencing such relief—as if I am hearing the voice of a familiar friend.

Why is it that our culture in general seems to hang on to the notion that a trauma, once experienced, changes or damages a person forever beyond all recovery?

Wait a minute; I know the answer to this. We promote the victim persona because it is easier than taking responsibility and saying, “I survived this and guess what, I’m still here!” Instead we haul out that violin and play a dramatic, sad tune about how we were done wrong, or how we will never be the same.

This is not to say that what we experience does not affect us positively or negatively, it most certainly does. But it is what we do next, what we choose to do next that determines how our lives will play out.


I get so sick and tired of hearing “That’s just the way I am, I can’t help myself.” My silent response is always the same, “Bullshit.” Perhaps that too is why I shy away from organized religion. The idea of putting your life in someone else’s hands, even if it is a deity, is just so alien to me.

I am in charge of my life.

I am in charge of my future.

I am responsible for my decisions.

Stop for a minute and think on those statements. Ask yourself, “How do I view my life?” If you are letting someone else call the shots in your life, maybe now is a good time to make some changes.

Alfred Adler believed that each person was a capable, self-determining individual. I believe that we choose our paths through our actions and beliefs and shape our lives accordingly. So if on reflection, you determine that your life is not where you want it to be, then it is time to decide to make it different. You are the only one who can.