Responsibility is the key to real freedom, happiness and power
For many of us, the word ‘responsibility’ conjures up many negative associations. We associate it with arduous tasks, like having to pay the bills and doing jobs we don’t like. We associate the word ‘responsibility’ with ‘burden.’ For many of us, this word has a heavy, significant kind of feel to it; not fun or inviting at all. My invitation to you when reading this post, is to begin to reassess your definition of the word responsibility and see whether you can transform it into something more empowering and life-affirming for yourself.
By definition, being responsible is the opposite of being irresponsible. Yet more to the point, it is the opposite of being a victim in life. Being responsible is as much an attitude as it is a set of actions or tasks to be completed, or things to be avoided.
Yes, being responsible in life does mean budgeting and spending within our means, it does mean looking after our health and wellbeing; it means taking actions that are right for us and in alignment with what we truly want. But what if responsibility was actually more than just this? What if taking responsibility also included being responsible for our thoughts, our emotions and our reactions to events occurring in our lives? This, I would wager, is not something people often consider that they even need to be responsible for.
A little bit of personal background on this. For a long time, I have vociferously fought the idea that I am 100% responsible for my own life. I’ve resisted the idea like it meant having to walk on lava. In my mind, I’ve either knowingly or unknowingly blamed other people or outside circumstances for my lack of happiness and fulfilment in life. I’ve chosen to pretend that I’m a victim, powerless to alter my life or my circumstances. Powerless to feel good on any given day. I’ve felt powerless with my anxiety, and acted as if I have no control over my emotional state. Yet I want to tell you now, all of this is one huge, fat lie. We all have the ability to choose to create a life that works for us and brings us fulfilment. We have the ability to choose to think thoughts that create positive emotional states. We have the power to choose our attitude and approach to any circumstance or situation in life.
The ideas presented in the above paragraph may be a little uncomfortable for some people. It is a completely natural tendency for the human ego to seek to point the finger at anything but itself. The ego will have us lie, blame and deny responsibility in order to justify itself and be right. Anytime you find yourself denying responsibility for something that is within your control, your ego is most certainly at play.
We have the choice of whether today is going to be a ‘good’ day or a ‘bad’ one, simply by being responsible for making it so. When we’re being 100% responsible for everything in our lives, we can then own the fact that ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days are completely down to us. We can become like a rock, unmoved by the changing moods and words of others, centred in our own sense of power.
If we are willing to admit and be truly responsible for being 100% responsible in our lives, we have literally just handed ourselves the ticket to freedom. Freedom from being at the effect of external circumstances, freedom from feeling trapped in negative emotions, freedom from feeling trapped in any situation in life.
Let’s say you’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled for some reason in your job. Now, you could choose to blame the job, or your co-workers, or your boss for the fact that you’re not enjoying your job at the present moment. Or you could choose to take responsibility for the situation and examine how you could change it for the better. Perhaps you could look for something else. Or maybe, if you chose to change your own attitude and perception to the job, the job would change for you too, as if by magic. It really is that simple. The problem is, very few of us ever stop to really examine how we’re being in any given situation. We get so caught up in what we’re doing or not doing, and completely forget that our attitude is just as, if not more, important.
In the above situation, we might be being cynical or resigned about the job. We might be harbouring resentment about a particular person, or about having to go into work at all. Both of these are choices. We could also choose to be enthusiastic or excited about going to work. We could choose to make light of the situation and try to make it more fun. This would also be a choice. Neither of these choices is ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ but one of them is certainly more empowering and life-affirming than the other.
We are not responsible on the whole for what other people do, say and think. We’re not responsible for the weather, we’re not responsible for public transport running on time, and neither are we responsible for a whole host of other things that affect our daily lives. However, we are very much responsible for our reactions and attitudes to such things. There are very few situations in life in which we are actually powerless, and to pretend otherwise is an illusion. We have the power to control our reactions and emotional state at any given time, regardless of what is going on around us.
My recommendation is to make a list of all the areas of your life that are important to you, and grade them on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is great and 1 is not great at all. The areas that score highly, will likely be the areas of your life that you are taking the most active responsibility for. On the areas that you rate lower, (5 or less), ask yourself why they have such a rating. What could you take responsibility for in this area that would have the rating improve? What could you do differently? Are you blaming other people or outside circumstances? Or have you simply ‘let yourself go,’ mentally speaking, in this area? Be honest with yourself and be willing to confront the reality of each situation.
What I’m suggesting in this article isn’t easy. As mentioned previously, it is human nature to seek to deny responsibility and blame others when things aren’t working. Yet if you are willing to really take this on, you will quite simply transform your life. You’ll go from someone who believes that external situations and circumstances control you, to someone who actively controls how your life goes. Freedom, power and the key to true happiness will appear in the palm of your hand.
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