Do You Fear Responsibility?
I used to be afraid of responsibility. The word alone would give me stress, fearing the blame that might come with it. Nowadays I am a fan of responsibility. What happened?
Yesterday, I posted a great article on my Facebook Page called “What Happens When You Take Full Responsibility of Your Life”. I love to share other people’s articles when they teach me something or when they emphasize a point I haven’t been able to put to words that way. But when I started writing this blog post, I realized I have something to say about the topic of responsibility too. Taken from my own experience, of course.
The reason why the word responsibility used to freak me out was that I was taking my role as a victim too seriously. All my life, I had been trying to please others, focusing on their needs, hoping their happiness would contribute to mine. Fortunately, my life taught me it doesn’t work that way.
On a side note: I still have the urge to please others, as you may have read here before. The difference being now that I am aware of it. Awareness creates choice. Choice means I can choose not to please.
When I mention my role as a victim, this might give you the idea I was being abused or mistreated in some way. I wasn’t, well occasionally I was, but not in a “big” way. Thing is, I mostly created my victim role myself. In my almost obsessive focus on other people’s wellbeing I couldn’t create an opinion of my own, didn’t know what I wanted (in life), and certainly didn’t stand up for myself. This was noticeable on a daily basis: if you had asked me “Where shall we go for a drink?”, I probably would have left the decision up to you. That way, if the place wasn’t nice, you wouldn’t blame me for making the “wrong” choice. Do you see how far this could go?
As I wrote on Facebook, one of the biggest light bulb moments in my life, was discovering that I could only really be responsible for my own life and actions, not for those of others – a huge difference in perception!
Here’s what happened. As soon as I took charge of my life – yes, I became responsible for my life! – I knew what I wanted and developed an opinion. Not overnight, but gradually, and surely. When you start to set out the direction in which you wish to go, it makes choosing easier. Is this action / person / option in that direction? No? Never mind then. Yes? Okay, go! Simple as that. This development also made my values clearer. With regards to the direction I wish my life to go, what do I find important on the way? Which values feel supportive to me? Et voila, an opinion is formed as a consequence!
Like I said, I still tend to please others, and I also tend to blame myself for a lot. Hey, I am no guru. But I am happy with the responsibility of my own life, which in turn creates a happier life.
To borrow a quote from another awesome article I found on this topic:
“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”
Ah yes, and there’s this. A final point to undermine my naivety. Beautifully put to words by Alex Lickerman M.D:
“Certainly believing that you have more control over your life than you actually do will lead nowhere good. Believing we only need to act kindly and morally, for example, to make everything turn out all right will surely cause us only disappointment and bitterness. We must, of course, acknowledge we often have no direct control over what happens to us (i.e., we can’t simply decide we’re not going to get cancer and expect that decision to protect us from actually getting cancer). I would argue, however, that the degree of control we have over how we respond to what happens to us is far greater than we often realize and that it remains the key to our happiness.”
Now, do YOU (still) fear responsibility?