Friday, May 23, 2008

Take Responsibility, Not Blame

Taking responsibility for the results in your life is a big step toward living the life you desire. Sometimes we resist taking responsibility because then it can turn in to thinking, "Obviously I'm a total loser because of all the miserable things going on my life." How do you take responsibility, without falling into the black hole of self depreciation?

That's a good question. One thing to realize is that taking responsibility means we have what it takes to make the situation better. No one has magical power to transform the pumpkin into a Lexus, but we can all take small steps to get our lives more fully aligned with our vision of the good life.

There are things we control, and things beyond our control. Discerning the difference is not always obvious, but neither is it mission impossible. Sometimes it's easier to start by considering a situation in the past, to see if you can assume some level of responsibility, even when you acted in total ignorance, for what happened. I did this with my divorce. Now I see with utmost clarity how I damaged the relationship, not out of ill will, but out of unhealthy habits of which I was unaware.

One bad habit I had was expecting someone else to rescue me. I thought that's what husbands did. I thought that my effort to be the perfect wife would pay off in my total happiness being delivered to me on a lovely platter. Now, I know better; it doesn't work that way.

Another unhelpful habit I had was thinking that by conceding to my husband on the vast majority of our inevitable disagreements, he would then concede the remaining issues, no matter what they were. Not so. You teach people how to treat you and if you've been teaching others that your will is not important, then quite naturally these other people think your will is not important to you, or to anyone else.

If you haven't realized it by now, there is no rescue mission on the way. Being happy is your own mission, and it's mostly possible. Not a state of near-continual delirium, but a contentment that reflects your acceptance of responsibility for your life.