I am a very firm believer that each person has a lot of control over their life based on the choices they make and their reactions to situations they find themselves in. At some point, you have to step up and make your own decision, your own choice, on the overall path of your life. And I'm not talking about a job or career, I'm talking about WHO YOU ARE.
You can choose to be happy or choose to be angry. This doesn't mean you can't sometimes be angry or sad or happy, but predominately it is YOUR CHOICE. Blaming others or insisting it's out of your control may feel better than admitting you made a mistake, but it won't fix anything. It won't make the future any brighter.
Perhaps an example? Partially drawn from my experiences, partly made up, here's one. You and your significant other have a date planned, a day to spend together to just relax, have fun, go out, and share your love. You've been looking forward to it for a week.
Then you find out that the s.o.'s best friend (who you hate) referred to the date as "a day in Alcatraz with that witch/bastard." Anger here is understandable, but how do you react outwardly? Do you fight with your s.o. over what the friend said? Do you bottle up your anger and seethe at the thought of this "friend" trying to sabotage your relationship? Do you contact the friend you hate and chew him out? Do you approach your s.o. and explain what you heard, that you're hurt by it, and you want to know his/her feelings on it?
And what happens if the next day the friend has some life emergency and your date gets canceled? Make your choice here. You can choose to strain your relationship with your s.o. over this. You can make an ultimatum to choose the friend or you. Or you can find a way to express unhappiness without blaming your s.o. for the actions of the friend.
To a lesser extent, this happens every day. Someone cuts you off in traffic, the grocery store was out of your favorite fruit, and you tripped and skinned your knee. Do you come home and take it out on those you love? Do you yell at your friend because your temper is so short? Do you ask to just be left alone for 15 minutes to read or cuddle your pets or take a jog to unwind?
These things make a difference EVERY DAY. Your friends will see how you respond and it will define how you are perceived. Are you an angry person? Always running in panic mode? Making jokes about everything? Helping everyone so much you get over busy and flustered? Or are you willing to leave baggage at the door to have a good evening with your s.o., no matter what has happened?
Teach this to your kids. It's a coping mechanism, and it's a life skill. It's the difference between being immature (it's all HIS fault!) to taking personal responsibility and improving yourself. It's the difference between being someone who's easy to befriend, and someone who can find themselves bitter and blaming the world. My fiance works every day with children who are struggling with this. Even if they know the 'right' choice, they take the easy way out rather than take responsibility for their actions, be that hitting another kid or breaking their pencil.
This post inspired by: a friend who is no longer, and the blog post that reminded me of her. http://www.danoah.com/2011/02/choose-your-own-adventure-sarah-gets.html