The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don’t blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the President. You realize that you control your own destiny.

It’s always easier to blame something (or someone) else when things don’t go your way. I have a hard time finding clients that pay well, because so many people are outsourcing their work overseas. I have a hard time achieving work-life balance, because my child requires my attention 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. That’s the “easy” way out. That’s the “convenient” way out.

Even if these “excuses” are rooted in some grain of truth, they don’t really do anything to remedy the situation. It is absolutely true that some people are born into privilege, enjoying a societal position that is more advantageous than what others may endure. Women, taken as a whole, have a harder time than men. People of color, generally speaking, face many challenges that others may not even notice.

But that isn’t what will make you feel any better about the situation or about your circumstances. Certainly, social activism and advocacy groups continue to do their part to minimize (and hopefully eliminate) such disparities and you too can contribute to these causes. You can make a difference, but that difference starts with you.

American psychologist Albert Ellis was once named as the second most influential psychotherapist in history, ahead of such notable names as Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and Abraham Maslow. Carl Rogers, champion of the humanistic approach to psychology, topped the list. Albert Ellis is best known for developing rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), the goal of which is to enable people to lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

The quote above does not directly discount the impact of other people around you who may indeed be affecting your life in seriously profound ways. Your relationship with your mother will naturally impact your outcomes. The laws and regulations put forward by the President will affect how you function in society. It’s true. But that’s not what will make you feel any better. That’s not what will make you happy.

It’s much more about understanding your locus of control and owning your own problems, whether or not they were actually caused by you. The point is what can you do about them now. If I’m having trouble finding clients that pay well, maybe I’m targeting the wrong market. If I’m struggling with work-life balance, maybe I should look into childcare options or reconsider how I approach work altogether.

At the end of the day, for better or for worse, it is what it is and you just have to learn to deal with it. By granting yourself power and control over your own domain, you move away from the role of victim, shed the shackles of learned helplessness, and forge your own path to keep moving forward. As I’ve mentioned before, happiness is derived from both a sense of perceived progress and perceived control. You’re in control. You steer the ship.

Where will your journey lead?