Live self-determined: You alone have your happiness in your hands

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Live self-determined: You alone have your happiness in your hands

Living a self-determined life should not really be a big problem in our free society: After all, the possibilities for shaping one's life are almost unlimited. Nevertheless, many people are familiar with the feeling of external determination that permeates their entire daily lives. They pursue a profession that does not fulfill them or lead a partnership that makes them unhappy.

Are you sometimes tormented by the thought that you are living a life you never wanted to live? This realization is the first step towards change. In the following article, we would like to give you some help on how you can (once again) live a self-determined life.

What does a self-determined life mean?

A self-determined life means that you arrange your everyday life according to your own standards. This is in no way to be equated with ruthlessness, but is an important basic prerequisite for personal happiness. You do not live to fulfill the expectations of other people. Self-determination means that you do the things that satisfy your soul.

However, many people find themselves in a hamster wheel both professionally and privately: For example, they work full time in a job they don't like or even hate to death. Yet they don't quit because, after all, their income depends on the job. A self-determined life, however, requires a certain amount of courage and willingness to take risks.

However, it is not only in the job, but also in the private sphere that foreign determination is not uncommon. Perhaps you are one of those people who never refuse other people a favor, so as not to disappoint? If you constantly have new duties imposed on you, which you are not actually prepared to fulfill, the feeling of a life determined by others is the logical consequence.

Why is self-determination so important?

Self-determination plays an elementary role in the health of the psyche. The ability to shape one's own life according to personal ideas conveys a sense of control and security. It is not for nothing that helplessness in old age belongs to one of the greatest fears of the Germans.

As already explained, (supposed) heteronomy is also an issue at a young age. The difference to actual dependence in old age, however, is that young and healthy people can actively change something about their situation.

Self-determination is also important for a healthy Self-esteem important. If you have the feeling that other people are constantly determining your own life, you will eventually lose respect for yourself. Ideally, you shouldn't let it get that far in the first place. Experiencing self-efficacy helps you to believe in yourself and to achieve your personal goals. Achieving goals.

self-determined life relationship

How can you live self-determined? 5 tips

Living self-determined is sometimes easier said than done when you consider the numerous obligations of everyday life. Nevertheless, it is by no means impossible. The following five tips should give you inspiration and impetus:

1. get to the bottom of your desires

Many people follow a preconceived path in life because society has expected it of them accordingly. Unless you have a sense of Dissatisfaction If you feel that you have a problem with your life, you should listen deeply to yourself. The following are some food for thought:

  • Do you like your job or did you take it because your parents once planned it that way for you?
  • Are you with your partner because you love him or because a separation would be too uncomfortable?
  • Do you surround yourself with people you really like or is your circle of friends an exhausting farce?
  • Do your hobbies feel more like chores?

After you have answered these questions honestly for yourself, the next step is to explore your true desires: What would you do with your life if all possibilities were open to you? What would you like to learn and experience? What kind of people would you like to be with?

2. set concrete goals

After you have found out what you really want, you should concretize your goals. These do not have to be large or even life-changing projects. Small steps also count. With every step you take towards your goals, you will gain in Self-confidence.

It is important that you not only plan, but become active! Make a precise plan of which steps you will take and by when you would like to have implemented them. Treat your target agreements conscientiously.

3. take responsibility for your life

In order to be able to live a self-determined life, it is imperative that you have the Leave victim role. Not other people are to blame for your foreign determination. The responsibility for what you let happen to you and what you don't is yours alone. By making yourself aware of this fact, you can once again act in a self-determined manner: You are an adult human being who can make his own decisions. make decisions and can draw boundaries.

4. remain calm

You set goals and things don't go as planned right away? You let yourself be persuaded again to do something you didn't want to do? That's no reason to give up! Change is a process that takes time. Don't be too hard on yourself. Self-judgment won't help you. Try to learn from your mistakes and do better next time.

Tip: For more serenity in everyday life, relaxation techniques and / or sports such as yoga are suitable, Meditation, autogenous training or progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobsen.

5. surround yourself with people who support you

Have you ever heard of toxic people heard? These people rob you of your energy and are intent on keeping you small and dependent by making you believe that you can never achieve your goals. Sometimes this happens in a very subtle way. In the presence of such people, you automatically feel bad and inferior.

Therefore, you should surround yourself with people who encourage you and believe in you. This, of course, includes, constructive criticism to express yourself. But anyone who tries to convince you that you can't do anything on your own should definitely be banned from your circle of friends.

This is part of a self-determined life

So, based on the above, we come to the following conclusion: living self-determined is a way of life. You have to make a conscious decision to do so and reorder your priorities accordingly. For this you need the following seven resources:

  1. Clarity
  2. Sense of responsibility
  3. Risk appetite
  4. Self-efficacy
  5. Acceptance and openness for new (life) paths
  6. Social security
  7. Supportive environment

Let's take a detailed look at the individual aspects:


As already mentioned, you should be aware of what is really important to you in life. Only if you are clear about your goals can you achieve them. Represent your convictions to others without being hurtful. Self-determined living does not mean ignoring other people's feelings. Therefore, in addition to clarity empathy of great importance.

Sense of responsibility

Every decision you make has consequences: This is true on both a large and small scale. Difficult decisions often have far-reaching consequences. Be prepared to Assume responsibility. Your happiness (or unhappiness) does not depend on other people, but solely on you and your decisions.

No question, taking responsibility can sometimes be uncomfortable. Quite often you have to pay a certain price for your self-determination. This can be, for example, the loss of a partnership or other social connections. But only in this way you get the chance to grow personally.

Risk appetite

Self-determined living only works if you are willing to take calculated risks for your personal dreams. You should be able to assess situations realistically in order to make a good decision. Be aware, however, that there will never be a guarantee for the success of your plans. But this is not a bad thing, because you can learn from setbacks!


Self-efficacy means that you are aware of your competence to solve problems by your own efforts. In order to gain this experience, it is necessary to weigh both opportunities and risks wisely and to act accordingly. Self-determined living and the experience of self-efficacy go hand in hand.

Example: If you are absolutely convinced that you can run a marathon, you will most likely reach the finish line. If you have doubts, the probability of success is significantly lower.

Acceptance and openness for new (life) paths

No matter how thoroughly you have planned your personal plans: Sometimes things turn out quite differently than you think. In this case, it would be absolutely counterproductive to give up and remain inactive. Sometimes supposed failure also offers unexpected opportunities! Stay open to new perspectives and never lose your curiosity. You always have a choice to change something in your life.

Social security

It is difficult to live self-determined if you fear economic or social disadvantages because of your decisions. In this case, it can help to remind yourself of the security of our system: Even if you should actually fail, you will literally fall soft in this country. You will neither starve nor sleep under a bridge.

Admittedly, the thought of being dependent again after a failed project is not at all pleasant. However, this risk should not stop you from going your way. There is always a way to fight your way back to the top.

Supportive environment

To be able to live a self-determined life, you need a supportive environment to a certain extent. These are people who encourage you and support you in your plans. Of course, you can also achieve self-determination without any external support. With benevolent people at your side, however, it is much easier.

Also, don't underestimate the influence of your social environment: If friends and family always talk you out of your abilities and call your goals ridiculous, this inevitably influences you negatively. People who believe in you, on the other hand, can motivate you to achieve your best.

Conclusion: Self-determined living is a choice

Anyone who wants to live a self-determined life must have the ability to stand up for themselves and fight for their own dreams. Those who always choose only the safest path remain trapped in the hamster wheel of external determination. 

What is certain, however, is that you will remain externally determined unless you become active: You decide what kind of life you want to lead. A sense of responsibility and empathy are crucial here. Self-determination does not mean ignoring the feelings and wishes of other people. Rather, it is about weighing priorities.

Valuable impulses on this topic can be found in the novel "The Café at the Edge of the World" from John Strelecky. The protagonist, a busy advertising executive named John, is asked questions in a small café in the middle of nowhere about the meaning of life confronted.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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