Principle: If you don’t decide for yourself, then other people will decide for you. This is so universally true that its essence even applies to the non-human world.


Every movement is a coming together of so many interconnected forces: people, places, nature and history. And, if we focus on people, we find different intentions, interests, agendas, hopes and dreams.

Every interaction in every situation comes laden with so many influences that if we are not vigilant, we can so easily get swept away in someone else’s agenda. And, it’s not even that their agendas are necessarily malicious or intentionally trying to stifle you. It’s a bit like jostling for a spot at the watering hole in the Serengeti!

It’s often non-conscious

We humans though are a little different to our animal cousins. We can self-reflect and very consciously decide how we behave. The problem however is that very often we do not.

So, we end up being non-consciously influenced and in turn non-consciously influencing others! Sometimes, we may very deliberately seek to sway others or become aware of how someone is trying to manipulate us. But, how often and how clearly? “Sometimes“ is not the same as “most of the time“!

Cultivating a deeper, in-the-moment awareness of yourself (mind and body, thoughts and emotions) is then one of the most important life skills you can develop. It becomes a spring well from which to grow a deeper understanding of your inner and outer worlds.

Don’t be a victim

Opening our eyes to the many influences present in our lives can sometimes feel overwhelming. We might fall into the trap of victim hood, of losing our agency. Acknowledging the reality of circumstances and the many societal influences at play is not the same as being a victim. Seeing reality is rather an opportunity to create real agency for yourself — to make more active choices about your life, so that you can live better.

But all this takes courage. The courage to really take responsibility for your life moment by moment.

Remember: If you don’t decide for yourself, then other people will decide for you.


Harsha is an executive and life coach based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives. Subscribe to receive more insights like this.