“Committing to full, healthy responsibility is a path, not a single event or mark on a chart. It always reveals our learning edge. Each time we step into full responsibility for a situation, we discover more creativity in ourselves.” ~ Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks
A significant happiness habit is taking 100% responsibility for any problem, activity, or life event in which we are involved. I don’t mean blaming ourselves for what happened, and I do mean looking for ways we may have contributed to the problem, activity, or life event, and actively seeking course correction.
While we may not have control over particular circumstances, we can choose how we respond to what is going on. When we choose to take anything less than 100 % responsibility, we operate as victims, and when we choose to take more that 100 % responsibility, we operate as martyrs. In both cases, we choose to contribute mightily to our unhappiness. Recognizing we have other options available to us, means choosing a life of empowered thoughts and actions.
A good example of this showed up this weekend, in my own life, and I share it because, no matter where we are on our journey towards greater ease and happiness, the Universe wants us to know – deep in our bones – whether or not we truly walk our talk.
Avoiding a 100 % Responsibility:
Jason and I are in the car, ready to head out together to run some errands, one of which is to drop off books I’ve borrowed from a friend. While I have the street address, I have never been to her house, so I reach for Jason’s phone, expecting to use the GPS function, only to find the phone has died.
Trust me when I say this, my first instinct was to blame him, and the words that wanted to rush to past my lips and explode into the car were, “You NEVER have your phone charged!”
Yep. Classic blame statement, “You never…” followed by exasperated tone and a lot of huffing and puffing in annoyance.
After giving Jason the evil eye, I realized I was entering victimhood territory. When we enter the land of the disempowered, there are three responses which alert us to this fact:
1. BLAMING and/or CRITICIZNG: I could play the villain and criticize him, make him wrong and blame him for not being prepared.
2. RESCUING and/or MARTYRING: I could play the rescuer and by extension, enjoy the role of martyr – “I have to do everything around here; even make sure the phone is charged”.
3. BEING AT THE EFFECT OF: I could play the victim and feel at the effect of “stupid technology”, “Why does the battery ALWAYS fail when we are on a tight schedule?”
Embracing a 100 % Responsibility:
1. Wondering where we may have contributed to the issue at hand. And, truthfully, the first place we usually fail to take 100 % responsibility is by making assumptions.
First assumption: the phone would be charged.
Second assumption: Relying on Jason’s excellent sense of direction and map in his head.
2. Taking empowered action from the start. In this case, empowered action would have involved me taking full ownership of the errand, in the first place, by looking up the address and printing the directions, so whether or not, I had access to the phone’s GPS, I could have fulfilled the requirements of my errand: dropping off books I had borrowed.
3. Asking an empowering question: What do I really want? Truth: I want to be an independent, prepared, responsible woman in a loving, blame-free relationship. Once I get crystal clear on what I want, it is easy to drop the blame and huffiness, and get busy doing what needs to be done (in this case, acquiring directions).
100 % Responsibility = Transformation
What I’ve realized is when I take 100 percent responsibility for the problem, activity, or life event I am facing, I can transform how I experience the event. Instead of being a victim I can completely own the fact there are a range of choices, responses, and actions I can take – and choose the one that has me living from the most empowered, creative place possible.
So, how did the afternoon go? We ended up, laughing. Truthfully, we don’t spend a lot of time being annoyed with one another – we’ve decided that is not how we want to spend time and energy. I apologized and got the directions I needed. I quickly fessed up to my lack of 100 % responsibility. HINT: It is always better to admit. It is not a good idea to point out where the other person is lacking in 100 % responsibility.
As Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, authors of The Conscious Heart, write: “Committing to full, healthy responsibility is a path, not a single event or mark on a chart. It always reveals our learning edge. Each time we step into full responsibility for a situation, we discover more creativity in ourselves.”
100 % Responsibility = Questions for Development:
How did I create this experience?
Am I willing to take 100 % responsibility for this issue?
What do I really want?
What I get by keeping this situation (blame, feeling victim-y, shame, etc.) going is….?
Am I willing to stop this now (pattern of behavior, emotional response, etc.)?