How to Live Your Life Run by Other People

If you in the position of having to live your life at the beck and call of other people's routines and needs, it can be very demoralizing. This situation can arise at any time in life, such as being in boarding school, a nursing home, in hospital, living with strict parents or a strict spouse, being a new mom regulated by the dependency of a baby, being disabled, or having to do things by the book in a workplace situation. It is hardest when it involves every aspect of your life, but any sense of lacking autonomy is a recipe for hardship, burn-out, and resentment. If you can't change things, you need to find coping strategies instead.


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    Reach a place of acceptance. It can help if you're able to come to terms with the constancy of other people making decisions for you. This doesn't mean that you have to like it, or even necessarily not complain, but it does require a level of acceptance for now. This will help you to stop wasting precious energy on worrying and feeling self-pity and allows you to move on to more positive steps.
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    Be grateful for the good in your life. Look for the positive and wonderful things that make your life worthwhile. Those who are able to see the bright side of even the darkest situation have the most success in enjoying life and finding their way through difficulties. Think about people who have been imprisoned under the most dreadful conditions but who survived to tell the tale; often they used the power of self-affirmation of their own inner strength and gratitude for life as a way of getting through the hardest.
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    Be patient. If the situation you are in isn't forever, then be prepared to wait things through. Many a teen has had little choice but to grin and bear the household regime until they grew old enough to leave and create their own. Patience enables you to bear the situation for a set amount of time, or even for a very long time.
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    Be vocal in a positive and factual way. When you need things done for you that you're unable to do yourself, avoid using language that implies complaining, putting down others or oneself. Instead, repeatedly ask in a polite, calm, and firm voice that something be done for you by a certain time. Express your comprehension that others are busy but that your needs are important too. And always thank those who provide you what you need (see below).
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    Ask for changes. If something isn't working out for you, don't feel bad about asking for things to be changed to accommodate a way that will ease things for you. As with the step before, keep to the facts and be positive but firmly and repeatedly ask that something be changed. It will also help if you can point out the benefits to other people as well, such as making taking care of you easier, making things easier for everyone living with you, etc.
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    Talk to people to let them know how you feel and how challenging it is for you. People make assumptions about situations very easily and if you don't tell them how you feel about things, then they're not likely to know your exact feelings; rather, they'll presume them for you. Avoid this happening by explaining clearly to people how being the situation of having them run your life for you feels. Expressions of your feelings might include: Feeling oppressed, restricted, unhappy, confined, lonely, annoyed, disrespected, imprisoned, etc. And don't forget – some positive ones to balance these might include: feeling happy, grateful, cared for, respected, noticed, appreciated. It all depends on your perspective and surely you can find one positive thing to say!
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    Thank people who are caring for you wholeheartedly. If you're in a position of life being run for you by other people because you are in need of care, flip your own self-pity into thanking them for attending to you. It will brighten their day and often it will bring positive results for you, as they'll take better care of someone they know is grateful for their help.
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    Find someone to champion your issues. If you don't find it easy to express yourself or to request changes in the way you are being treated, look for someone who can do this for you. It might be a family member, a trusted friend, a mentor, a health care advocate, a lawyer, a social worker, etc. Whether or not this person is closely tied to you doesn't matter; what does matter is that they have empathy, compassion, and can identify with your needs.


  • It is important to feel some sense of autonomy in your life. People without autonomy tend to have lower self-esteem, a sense of helplessness, and can hold an apathetic view of their lives and their role in the world. As a carer, much consideration needs to be given to how to ensure that people being cared for are not left feeling this sense of having no autonomy at all and much of the time you can establish this through dialog (apart from the very ill or very disabled). If you're the one living under this situation, don't give up on a sense of autonomy; use the steps above to continuously re-establish people's understandings of your needs and expectations. Being a squeaky wheel in a polite and firm way is important in situations where you feel that your choices have been removed from you.

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Categories: Positive and Reflective Lifestyles