Pulling your own strings:

How to Take Control of Your Life

What I found interesting and worth taking away from this book is a lot. This is by no means a plagiarism or an attempt to summarize the entire book. This is simply my notes during my reading of this book.




Victims almost always operate from weakness; they often feel they are not smart enough or strong enough to be in charge of their lives.

If you are being manipulated by forces outside of yourself, then you are a victim.

Epictetus wrote: “No man is free who is not master of himself.

Never place total reliance in anyone other than yourself when it comes to guiding your own life.

Eliminating victim traps involves a four-part program of:

  1. Learning how to size up your life situations.
  2. Developing a strong set of non-victim expectations and attitudes.
  3. Becoming aware of the most prevalent kinds of victimization in your life and in our culture.
  4. Creating a set of principles which will guide you to detailed strategies for acting out a philosophy of life based on the unalterable notion that you are not going to become a victim.

Go into every situation expecting to attain your goals.

Once people know you are intimidated by their anger, they will use it to victimize you whenever it will work.

People will use their hurt feelings over and over if you are gullible enough to buy it.

At no time do you have to be hurt, depressed, or anxious when things don’t go the way you would prefer, because that is the ultimate victim-reaction.

Virtually nothing can stand in your way; and in extreme situations, your body may reveal capabilities that verge on the “superhuman“.

Your own attitudes can become the greatest medicine in the world, if you learn to make them work for you.

“The fact that the mind rules the body is, in spite of its neglect by biology and medicine, the most fundamental fact which we know about the process of Life.”

Dr. Franz Alexander

If you are told you are dumb and let yourself believe it, you will perform accordingly.

You are what you choose for yourself, and if you stop expecting emotional upset and instability, you will begin to take on the characteristics of a fully functioning person.

Your expectations for how you’ll function in your social structure will largely determine what your life will be like.

If you allow your family (or families) to pull your strings, they can pull so hard, sometimes in different directions, that they tear you apart.

Families are so tough because their members often feel they own each other, as though they’ve invested all their life’s savings in each other, which allows them to employ GUILT when it comes to dealing with insubordinate members who are turning out to be “bad investments“.

You must arm yourself with the resolve not to be owned if you are to teach your family how you want to be treated. They will eventually get the message. They’ll respect you for your declaration of independence. To be effective you cannot feel constrained by your present experience or training but must know that you can do a host of jobs, simply because you’re flexible, enthusiastic and a willing listener.

To avoid the victim snares of authority figures, you have to begin seeing them simply as human beings, no more important than you, who performs tasks they have been highly trained for, and for which you are therefore paying very highly.

Authority figures will respect you if you command their respect.

Never let yourself be angry.

You are victimizing yourself if you are still doing what you were trained to do if you don’t enjoy it any longer.

If you believe that you can’t do something, and so on, you will also believe that others see you that way, and you will act that way, and even be that way.


Being a non-victim starts with the principle of saying and believing that you are valuable. Your own worth and personal effectiveness are the cornerstones of your strength.

No one in this world can hurt you unless you allow it, and then of course you are hurting yourself.

Willingness to confront fear is called courage.

Courage means flying in the face of criticism, relying on yourself, being willing to accept and learn from the consequences of all your choices. It means believing enough in yourself and in living your life as you choose so that you cut the strings whose ends other people hold and use to pull you in contrary directions.

Whenever you give another person more prestige than you give yourself, you have set yourself up to be victimized. Always deal with people on a first-name basis unless they make it clear that they need to be addressed in some other way.

Not setting your goals according to which ones will win the immediate approval of others may, paradoxically, help you get their approval in the long run.

You are asking to be victimized when you place total reliance in someone else to control your life properly.


Since you can only live in the present moment, it is preposterous and self-negating to let hurt about what used to be, hurt you.

The only strategy for avoiding the “you should have” trap is to decline to participate in the ritual by focusing on what actually can reasonably be done in the present.

As you assess past influences on your own life, make sure you’re not hanging onto the belief that anyone else is responsible for what you are feeling or doing, or even failing to do, today.

Blaming your past for what you are today will just plain keep you stuck.

Rid yourself of those self-crippling memories, and most importantly, give up the blame and hatred you harbor for people who were only doing what they know ho to do.

Holding old grudges only keeps you from enjoying many potentially rewarding experiences with people just because they may once or twice have made mistakes that affected you.

If you are upset today by their past behavior, then they are still controlling you.


We are islands unique onto ourselves. Coming to grips with that idea will help all of us build bridges to others, rather than erecting barriers by being upset when we see that others are not like us.

The self-comparison game is deadly because in it your assessment of yourself is always controlled by something outside of you which you in turn cannot possibly regulate.

When people get their feelings of worth by exercising power over you, or anyone else, you can bet they will do all they can to get their habitual excercise.

Get rid of idols, OR other people whose lives you want to model yours after. Be your own hero. Don’t ever expect to be like anyone else.

People who don’t try so hard, who relax and enjoy, are by far the most effective at what they do. When the champions get tight and push, they fall behind, but when they take it easy, they take it.

Albert Einstein once reported, “Great Spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.


Being quietly effective means that you don’t have to tell anyone else about your victories to make them meaningful to you.

The most important key to being quietly effective lies in how you feel about yourself.

Wanting to have everyone understand and share everything that you think, feel, say, and do is a self-victimizing attitude.

Don’t feel you have to be noisy about other people’s attitudes and behaviors that you might find irritating but aren’t hurting you. This is the mark of the non-victim, not a phony, just a person who has no needs to let everyone else know where he is all the time.

Shrug it off. Ignore it. DOn’t choose the victim position of being offended and upset about it.

When you are arguing with someone who doesn’t understand you, you’ll be surprised how often you’ll find your argument reinforcing the non-understanding and helping the other person to believe more strongly in his own point of view.

You need never be manipulated by others into revealing private information, nor victimized because of blind devotion to the truth.

Having to prove yourself to everyone will victimize you a great deal in your life.

You have no responsibility to join gloomy people or even be around them. You have a responsibility to yourself to avoid being around people who may well drag you down.

Learn to accept it as natural that other people label you, rather than as something to be upset about.

Decide to live now, and accept not being understood by everyone all the time.


You get treated the way you teach people to treat you.
Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

The most effective teacher in the world is behavior.

Ibsen said: “A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” One of the most illogical victimizing games people play on themselves, is to expect totally unrealistic things of others, and when other do not live up to their expectations, they are shocked, scandalized, offended and distraught.

Be assertive and you won’t be a victim.

I will refuse to explain myself to anyone who is obviously not interested in hearing what I have to say.

Practice reacting as much as possible with behavior instead of words.

Eliminate complaining words and phrases from your vocabulary. Stop using sentences that permit or invite people to victimize you. Refuse to do chores which you absolutely hate and which are not necessarily your responisbility.

Generally you are the do-er of menial tasks only because you’ve taught others that you’ll do it without complaining.

Don’t let others make you feel guilty about your new assertive behaviors.

Practice not being angry with others you’ve taught to manipulate you into anger.

Say NO!

You get treated the way you teach people to treat you.


Nothing is worth devoting your life to at the expense of your own happiness.

Loyalty doesn’t mean slavery.

The most important person in the world, to whom you should be unswervingly loyal, is yourself. You only have one life, and to let some business, or other institution control it is particularly foolish.

If your worth as a human being is dependent upon your doing things well, being on top, outdoing every one else, then what will you do when the cheers stop and you are no longer on top? You will collapse because you no longer have a reason to feel worthy.

And when you have to look outside yourself to assess your own position or worth, then you are not in control of your own life.

People and Living things are all that matter. Without life around you to bounce off of and to share, you have no possibility for joy.

If you have no people to love and who give love in return if you have, if you have lost your feelings for life, then all your things shrink to significance.

People are more important than things.

If the game becomes bigger than life, instead of a pleasant part of it called play, and you find yourself immobilized, enraged, depressed or whatever, then you have victimized yourself. And ironically, the less emphasis you place on winning, the more likely you are to win.

It is far more functional to label behavior rather than people.

The way to escape the bureaucratic victimizing game is largely to avoid it whenever possible; otherwise go into it with a complete understanding of how it functions. You can avoid being upset by anything you encounter, and you can refuse to deal with bureaucratic roadblocks, and never allow yourself to be sucked into the same kinds of absurd behaviors.

One of the healthiest techniques for career success is learning to forget about it regularly, which also brings you back to it refreshed, more efficient, and able to view your work in new and better perspectives.

You don’t have to stay where you are forever, simply because you happen to be there today and it is easier to stay than move on.

You only live once, so why should you live at the mercy of manmade institutions?


Reality just is, independent of what you demand or insist upon, or how you are otherwise immobilized by your judgements about the way it ought to be.

Things which you predict might happen, and which you might be able to influence, you set about to improve – but you don’t demand that they be otherwise and get frustrated when they are not.

It is much more helpful to label behaviors rather than people.

True non-victims are those who don’t engage in a lot of useless fighting, who flow with the currents instead of bucking then, and who are peacefully loving and enjoying their sojourn here.

How foolish ever to allow yourself to be upset or immobilized over things when your upset will do nothing. You could have exactly the same reaction from reality by not being upset.

Your beliefs will only victimize you if they somehow keep you from functioning effectively in your present moments.

If you are being victimized by the good/bad routine, think instead in terms of healthy/unhealthy, legal/illegal. effective/ineffective, works/doesn’t work.

Reality is best enjoyed in the absence of thinking, through simply being and experiencing.

Easing up on yourself, ironically, will improve your performance rather than allow it to deteriorate.

Resolve to decide upon your attitudes rather than be a slave to them. By changing your speech behavior, you’ll be changing your attitudes in the direction of accepting reality for what it is, and you will find yourself eliminating much needless upset from your life.

Eliminate the violence from your internal reaction. Eventually you’ll get into the habit of not being upset at all of the things you can’t change., and you’ll learn to take action, rather than sulk.

Reduce your tendency to evaluate, assess, analyze and interpret the world, and replace this futile activity with doing, enjoying, being and loving.

Refuse to allow yourself to be corrected, and eliminate any tendency you may have to correct other.

Just learning to appreciate life without cursing reality all the time, and so destroying your one chance for happiness now, can be both the first and last step in your pursuit, your own pursuit of complete fulfillment.


There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.

Success – even in life itself – is nothing more than moments to enjoy, one at a time. When you understand this principle, you will reduce your victim stance immeasurably. You’ll stop evaluating your happiness on the basis of achievements, and instead look upon the whole trip of life as something to be happy about.

The cornerstone of your attitude must be alertness for taking advantage of your situations, making your expectations revolve around wanting to emerge as a non-victim, and looking hard for the right kind of opportunity.

The art of being creatively alive requires suspending as much of your rigidity as possible.

If you persevere and follow up tirelessly, never even entertaining the idea of being put off, then you will almost always emerge not only having reached your goals, but often having far exceeded your initial expectations.

Action is the single-most effective antidote to depression, anxiety, stress, fear, worry, guilt, and of course, immobility.

Lack of action is not a result of depression, it is the cause. And inactivity is most often a choice rather than an inescapable fact of life.

People who choose to be active are very seldom victimized. The action-oriented person will ultimately get injustices rectified, while the inactive person, or the passive observer, will find himself victimized a lot, complain to everyone, and scratch his head in dismay.

Even when you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

Anything can work for you if you are willing to take risks, to abolish your victimizing self-doubts, and do it.

You are the product of what you choose for yourself in every life situation. You do have the capacity to make healthy choices for yourself by changing your attitude to one of creative aliveness. Be fully alive while you’re here on this planet.


A list of 100 questions in the book that help you assess how much of a victim-mentality you have. Being aware of the problem is half the solution.


.the end.


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