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Someone* once said to me, “Most problems are caused by user error,” meaning many of the struggles in life are self-created ones.

Realizing this can be a double edged sword. On one hand it is empowering — to struggle or not in most cases becomes a choice. On the other hand, it requires taking responsibility for your life outcome, owning that you are the cause of your problem.

Try it. Make a written or mental list of your biggest problems and struggles. Then ask yourself how many of them are actually caused by your own decisions and choices, or decisions or choices you should/could be making but aren’t?

It can be both painful and liberating to realize nearly all factors in life are within our own control. That life is, like it or not, good or bad, what we have made it.

Sure, there are exceptions, times when circumstances beyond one’s control impose suffering — like being born into a dysfunctional family, getting cancer, losing everything in a fire or natural disaster, being laid off due to a downsizing, having a partner dying or walk out with no warning, being caught up in a war zone.

But even in these cases, there is still a choice involved and that choice is how you respond to factors out of your control. Constructive or destructive, how you react to tragedy is still a choice completely within your control. (Understanding this is what heroes and inspirational souls are made of.)

Luckily, true tragedy beyond control doesn’t strike often in life. Most of the time there is no outside random situation or circumstance imposing the suffering. Upon examination, we are usually creating the situation ourselves with the choices large and small we make every day. In these cases it’s as simple — and as hard — as choosing to do different.

Pity parties, blaming others, or adopting a victim stance may soothe the ego, but they only prolong the suffering.

Start doing yourself a favor, if you have been falling prey to user error forgive yourself (we’re all human), then take ownership of your life, identify the user error that’s causing you (and very likely others) suffering, and take action to change the situation from what you don’t want into what you do want.

Whatever the issue, problem, struggle, or roadblock — from weight loss, to a career funk, to relationship woes, to money problems — it’s almost always just that simple, and just that difficult. Choices. Action. Not choosing. Not taking action. A good attitude. A bad attitude.

And the good news, or the bad news, is the only person who can do it, or keep yourself from doing it, is you.

Let those who have ears hear.

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*The someone who said this, ironically, knew this because they themselves were an expert at user error.

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