Dear Why Team member,
I hope this weeks message finds you well and encouraged.
This week we ask:
Why develop our responsibility?
Because the quality of our life depends on it.
One of the very first teachings I received about 17 years ago from my first therapist, life-coach, was to fully own my emotional responses.
I specifically remember telling him in a meeting about an interaction with my wife and I said,
“she flipped my switch.”
He just looked at me, tilting his head, waiting for me to awaken to what I had just said. His response was affective,
“she may have provided you a cue, but flipping the switch is up to you.”
- I remember correcting my statement to say,
“I flipped my switch.”
Ownership or liberty means you have the power to change how you view, understand and respond to circumstances involving you. My coach knew, out of the gate, that if there was emotional help to be received by me, it would ultimately be up to me to first own all my behaviors. To blame anyone else or circumstance is truly a misunderstanding of your position. If I was to improve my life experience, I had to first own all my emotional responses to life. It is not at all easy to do but is the only path to freedom from being a victim. This does not mean that you won’t encounter very difficult and painful situations, but that ultimately your response to all of them is under your power. Life happens as life will happen, but you always get to choose how you respond. In other words, your entire life experience comes down to your response-ability.
Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, talks at length about freedom and liberty in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Your freedom can be taken away, but no one can take your liberty of responding to circumstances away from you.
Yes, your experience of life is your responsibility.
Consider defining responsibility as your ability to respond. Improving your ability to respond to what life brings you will absolutely improve your entire experience of life. But to do so, you must own 100% of your responses; stop blaming others and/or circumstance. In other words, everything you experience ultimately comes down to your response-ability.
This is not to say that you are responsible for all that befalls you. Here we consider the traditional use of the word responsible as assigning fault. For example: It is his/her fault, he/she is responsible for what happened. And there may be truth that someone else did something say harmful and, in this context, they should be held responsible for their behavior. But our own reactions and emotional responses to the situation come down 100% to our own response-ability.
No one can make you feel anything, May it be seconds, but between stimulus (or the time an action takes place) and response, lies our current ability to act to the situation. So, beware of your response and own it!
We may not be responsible for a storm taking out a building, but we are responsible for how we respond.
Your current ability to respond to life defines your current level of responsibility.
Only through more ownership of our responses are we more capable of improving our responses.
For many years this awareness has assisted my wife and I in our parenting. When our children’s disagreements escalated into arguments and any other less than optimal responses; I ask them as I encourage you to ask:
Who is responsible for your behavior?
At the end of the day, we must own 100% how we respond to life; it always comes down to our response-ability as to how our lives will change or improve.
Be courageous and look into the past, leverage the help of a professional, ask Why do I behave the way I behave in certain situations to learn more about yourself and your current abilities to respond - where could you improve, what steps can you take to improve? It’s up to you to make your life awesome and every painful response you experience can be a door into greater understanding and empathy for yourself and others.
This week, with more intentional awareness, notice your response abilities and take note on where you might improve - for yourself and for those you seek to serve.
Make it a great week!