"I don't want to be a passenger in my own life."
At nineteen I said to my mother, "Only I am in charge of my happiness; no one else." I'll never forget how vehemently she disagreed. "No, no. Other people can make you unhappy. If they're unpleasant or mean or unfair--then you can't help but be unhappy."
I told her that I could also choose to be happy, deep down in the middle of me, regardless of what other people did, and that I would choose to be happy. "I'd never give someone that power over me," I told her.
To the end of her life, we simply agreed to disagree on this whole point. I feel so sad when I think of how much of her time here on earth she spent angry and unhappy and blaming others. That's not to say that I'm not ever sad or angry or frustrated; those are normal emotions. But I acknowledge that I'm allowing myself to feel that way and that no one can ever make me truly unhappy without my permission.
I look at my mother's life and think that in so many ways she was the passenger in her life. By not taking responsibility for her 'bad' feelings, she also handed over the rights to her 'good' emotions--every feeling she experienced depended on what someone else did or said.
I'd like to think that I'm in charge of what I feel; that my successes result from my strengths and that my many failures are a chance to learn and try again. I own my sadness and my happiness, and I hope I pass this on to my children.
There's nothing so awful as one who has given away her power.