How to start liking life when you feel you have no control over it

ApoorvaO asks: I sometimes hate my life, no matter I restrain myself. I never go anywhere outside, my parents never took me to any holidays till now. I’m already 20, but have never been to any holidays. I don’t have friends either. All I do is study all year and take stress, and stay home all vacation and go back to hostel after vacation. It suffocates me, I have explained my parents that I need a break too. I need a getaway. They never understand, though even if they did, they cannot because of the financial crisis. I feel sad and frustrated. But I’m helpless.

Hi ApoorvaO –

Your life does sound awfully frustrating, and I sure agree it needs to change.  But you make an interesting word choice – do you see it?  You say you sometimes hate your life, no matter how “I restrain myself.”

You see, my friend, the only thing that’s wrong with your life is that it’s so RESTRAINED!  You’re like a dog who lives in a safe home with loving humans, gets food and medicine and all that, but stays in a crate all day.  And then thinks you need to restrain yourself further!

Well yeah, I don’t want you to hate your life.  But restraint isn’t going to fix it.

What I want you to do is to

sit down and write out everything you wrote me, and add everything else you can think of that you don’t like about your life.  How you’re stuck at home, have no friends, never travel.  But then other things – maybe you don’t like your weight, hate how hot your neighborhood gets in the summer (that’s me!), aren’t interested in any movies out now, whatever it might be.  If you could get a hundred items, that’d be great.

Then I want you to think very hard, and be SUPER-honest, as you split those into three lists:  Those that are your parents’ fault, those that are you’re doing, and those that none of you can control. 

This is all because your letter makes me think you’re so overwhelmed with feeling bad right now, you’re not able to take a good look at what can be changed.

So if I did this with my life: Now sure, the fact that it’s so hot outside a crayon melted in Handsome’s car – there’s nothing he or I could really do about that (in the long term, he could move away, but not right now).  But the fact that my water dish is empty – that’s Handsome’s fault.  And the fact that I’m lying outdoors when I could walk inside where it’s cooler, that’s all me. 

And then, I give you every right to be annoyed with your parents.  Okay, they can’t afford to take you on an around-the-world luxury voyage, but could they drive with you to a nearby town, or a lake or shore, for a weekend? 

And I especially give you every right to be annoyed with the world: “CAN YOU JUST CHILL OUT A LITTLE?!”

But then I want you to look at that other list.  The ones you have some power over.

If you want to make friends, there are ways to go about that (I have some pieces on it on my website, for example).  If you want to manage your time better so you can do more things than just study, there are ways to do that too. 

And once you start taking control of some parts of your life, I’m betting you’ll find you have more say than you thought on others.  Maybe it’s time to move out of your parents’ home?  Maybe you can find a way to afford to go to a university where you’d live somewhere else and make amazing new friends, some of whom would take you for a weekend to their home towns. 

And then maybe your studies would lead you to a career where you could help your parents out financially, and give them the lives they planned on before the financial crisis.  And you can move past the pain of right now.

So you see, ApoorvaO, I think it’s okay that you hate your life sometimes.  But if I get my way, you’re going to switch to loving your life.  Not because of what’s in it right now – but because of all the possibilities lying ahead…!

All my best,


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