True self-responsibility – what does that mean?
Mostly, I am beginning to know what it does not mean. It does not mean self-blame, being a victim, or having to figure it all out on my own. It does not mean holding oneself rigidly, bracing against what is coming at one. It does not mean constantly looking out ahead for what could go wrong so as to ward off possible disaster. Disaster happens. It does not mean being hypercritical of oneself when things do against one’s wishes. It does not mean chalking up patterns of negativity to past lives, hard-wired neurological activity, or genetics. It does not mean that life is punishing, cruel and unjust.
Self-responsibility is kind, merciful, and inclusive. There is a softness, a bittersweet understanding of the sorrows that befall us all. There is a profound knowing that none of us get out of here alive, and that no one has control, ultimately, over their final fate.
Self-responsibility includes asking for help. It includes not knowing how. It embraces the natural ebb and flow, expansion and contraction, the ups and the downs. It requires the allowing of our mutual humanity.
Self-knowledge, and understanding the nature of the beingness, are crucial. Otherwise we vacillate back and forth between victimization and humiliation. Neither of these are true self-responsibility, although it seems these are confused for this deep and powerful holding.
“It’s all my fault.” “I am the worst.” “I can’t help it; it’s the way I was raised.” “My mother … or my father ….”
All of these are excuses for not being self-responsible. Just because a sentences starts with I or me, does not mean one is being responsible.
My favorite is when, in an attempt to sound responsible, we use “I messages” against one another. “When you did … I felt ….” While this can be a great way to communicate responsibly, when there is a subtle (sometimes not so subtle) subtext of blame, this sets up a vicious circle of blaming each other. Especially if one is fooled by one’s own verbal tricks, which we humans frequently are. Any trick in the book to not have to confront finding the true cause in one’s own self.
We have the choice to live into the possibility of being at cause for all that comes our way. That does not mean we “caused” an accident or an illness. It means that when something occurs within one’s reality, this is the reality that is to be lived into. “This belongs to me.” These feelings I am having, no matter how painful, are mine to be with. This helplessness I am experiencing is for me to hold. This sadness and hurt are for me to find a way to soothe. I have help available to me if I am willing to be vulnerable and humble enough to ask. And, this burden, or illness, or death of a loved one, is mine to bear. Yes, it does hurt. And, no, that does not mean I am being punished unfairly.
The serenity that can be found in true self-responsibility has a divinity to it that can be felt by others. The gift of a deep and profound holding of oneself and life, as if all is in its proper order, vibrates out to the other that life can be trusted after all.