When I moved to Costa Rica in November of 2006, I remember feeling like my life was out of my control. I had lived in the United States my entire life and had become accustomed to other people telling me what my life should be like.
Growing up, my parents were my advisors. The problem was that it didn’t stop there, and eventually I was always looking to other people and institutions to know what was best for me. Someone was always at the ready just waiting to tell me what I should be doing and how to get it done. I followed directions and did what I was told until one day I woke up and realized I was living a life that someone else wanted for me. I had served in the military, worked at the Post Office, and even earned my bachelor’s degree from college all because other people told me I should do it.
That was scary to realize, but what really freaked me out, was that I didn’t like the life I was living. In fact, I found my life intolerable because I didn’t really know why I was living it. I was so lost and confused about who, what, and where I was! I had become an “order-taker” living my life in service to the ideals that others had for me. And so, I took it upon myself to change my life.
I was so angry, that I think I partially moved away just to throw a wrench in the life plan that the outside world had set up for me. After arriving in Costa Rica with my wife and son, we set out on a grand adventure of discovery.
I learned many new things in Costa Rica, including a new language, but most importantly I learned to take responsibility for my choices. I found that by blaming others for my circumstances in my life, I was really only shaming myself for the choices that I had made. This shame was the true source of the rage boiling inside my heart and mind.
Once I realized this, I decided to take back the controls of my life and empower myself to change. It was a difficult journey and it seemed impossible at times, but ultimately I came to these conclusions:
- If you really want change in your life you must accept the who, what, and where you are now! You can’t just love the vision of the bigger better you or you’ll never get there. So accept yourself now, the way you are!
- After that you have to surrender to what is. Stop judging yourself and others for the choices that you made in the past. It’s over and you can’t change that, you’re just fighting a mental battle that you’ll never win.
- Next, I found it helpful to revisit some of my past choices, so that I could understand why I had made some of these life decisions. When doing this, it’s important to drop the judgement and just look back at the situation.
- When we understand why we have done the things in our past we get clarity on the things that worked and even more understanding of the things that didn’t go so well and why.
- Once we are clear and understand why we should surrender to our past choices they become easier to accept which brings us to the most important part forgiveness!
Finding forgiveness is the key to loving yourself and your life. We can’t love or forgive the people and choices in our lives unless we accept, surrender, understand, and have a clear vision on what it is that we need to forgive. Then, we can love our lives and live in harmony.
About the Writer Jeff Anthony
Jeff Anthony lives in Costa Rica with his remarkable wife and two rambunctious, young boys. Each day he rises above a severe form of muscular dystrophy, which attempts to conquer his ambitions and happiness, yet never will. Instead, it’s blessed him with a unique perspective on the fast-paced world all around us.