No human being has any authority over you. Your life belongs to you and to you alone. No scowling face or irritated manner, no challenging posture or threatening tone has any power to make you feel nervous or anxious, frightened or angry.
What this means is that if we are not living life completely on our own terms -- if there is anyone in our life that dominates us -- it isn't because life has given that person an unfair advantage or power over us. The fact is simply that we have given away our true estate in life, a forgotten heritage that calls to us now to remind us that our True Self cannot be dominated by anyone or anything. Each of us is entitled to be a wholly independent and totally free human being. Truth declares that nothing real stands between you and this noble life, and it invites you to recover the real pleasure of living life on your own terms.
"I can actually feel the rightness in this idea, and there are times when it seems I am able to live life on my own terms. Then there are those other times when, for some unknown reasons, it feels like I have no life of my own. For instance, sometimes I agree to do things for people I don't really want to do at all, or I find myself in places where I don't really want to be -- with people I don't really like -- and yet I can't seem to leave. And sometimes I feel so much resentment toward the very people whose approval means the most to me... it just doesn't make sense. When these times come, not only am I unsure of why I am acting the way I am, but I don't even like myself. It doesn't add up! How can a person be in charge of his own life one minute, and in the next minute find it in someone else's hands?"
The truth is it will never add up as long as you are figuring in flattering but false notions about yourself. Plug this new self-insight into your equation and see if things don't immediately make more sense: Whenever you do something that you resent doing but feel compelled to do, you must unconsciously be more concerned with how others feel about you than you are with how you are really feeling. This is what it means to live in conflict.
"I can see that this must be the case. It explains almost everything except for why I would want to treat myself this way. Why do I care at all about how I appear in the eyes of others?"
Please follow this explanation carefully. It will set you back on the road to having your own life. You have always believed that the better people feel about you, the better you can feel about yourself. However, you may have never really considered that the opposite of this belief must hold equally and unhappily true, and that is: The less you are approved by others, the more alone and uncertain you feel. This helps to explain why you think you have to please people, as well as why you resent those you feel you must please. Being approved by others has become a strange kind of life-support system wherein, after a lifetime of depending on it, you unconsciously believe that there won't be life without someone there to approve you into existence. Just the opposite is true. The more you depend on others to confirm you to yourself, the less real life you have of your own.
The chief cause of why our lives so often wind up in the hands of others is not that they are superior or that the world is too strong for us, but that we don't want to face the uncertainty and aloneness that we think we are too weak to bear. This is the real cause of all of our wrong relationships in life. We have been betrayed by a belief in our own weakness.
The conscious refusal to go along with your weakness is what invokes and finally delivers real inner confidence. This new kind of strength gradually becomes the cornerstone of a true individual existence -- the life you've always wanted. The stakes are actually eternal -- but self-victory is as certain as the fact that light always triumphs over darkness. If you will stay in the middle of this struggle for true self-possession, not asserting your individuality but allowing it to flourish and to blossom -- bearing what you must bear by refusing to submit yourself to negative, self-betraying influences -- you will come to know the highest approval that life can award: Reality itself will approve you. And when it does, all of your struggles will become a thing of the past. You will possess yourself. No one around you will suspect that you now live in a new kind of bright inner world -- a world that is always on your terms, because your terms and the terms of this happy new inner world are never in conflict. You have won your own life.