Everything in Life is Negotiable!

By Nicole Schapiro

Who is in charge of your life? Are you making most of the major decisions that affect you? Or are those decisions made by a spouse, a parent, a child, an employer, a coworker, a friend? Often the people whom we allow to influence or make decisions for us has been dead for years: a parent whom we could never please, a religious figure, a teacher. . .

Claiming authority over your own life is a critical step in preparing to negotiate for your life – and [that authority] is a nonnegotiable requirement. You cannot trade off the right to make decisions about your life for money, love, security, prestige, affection, or fame. Not until you reclaim yourself, or understand what you are about, will you go forward. Let me be clear. Do not confuse “authority” with “control.” The desire to have total control over our lives is unrealistic since we depend on others also. We cannot control the behavior of other people – in our own families or in the world – and we cannot control the course of nature. Within that reality, it is foolish to think that we, who function every moment of our lives in connection with other people and the natural world around us, can be in total control. However, we can have authority over our lives.

We choose to be the final decision maker on important issues that concern our minds, our bodies, and our work. Here are some seemingly nonnegotiable facts in our lives:

  • Age. We can’t change it, but we can do a number of things to minimize its influence on our lives. We can practice preventive health measure to stay well, we can follow good exercise and diet regimens, we can have regular medical checkups. We can take various measures to make ourselves look younger. And, most important, we can change our attitude about aging.
  • Parentage and family. We can’t change our status as the offspring of biological parents, and in some cases, the adopted children of another set of parents. We can’t change the children to whom we have given birth. …but we can alter aspects of our interactions with these people.
  • Physical handicaps. We cannot negotiate for better eyesight or stronger legs or clearer speech, but we can negotiate for the circumstances that we require to perform effectively and successfully in our work and at home. We can educate people as to how we want to be treated or what and how we feel when they act a certain way.
  • Illness. Disease would seem to be a part of life that, surely, is not negotiable. How do you negotiate with cancer? With AIDS? We can determine the nature and course of treatment, we can choose how much of our life to give over to management of the illness, we can make attitudinal changes that significantly affect the state of our health.

Each of these choices is a negotiation. As women, as individuals, we must stretch beyond the limitations imposed upon us if we’re going to achieve personal and professional goals of our own, not just assist others in winning theirs. As women in control at last of our own destinies, we can make a big difference – for ourselves and in the world we live in.