Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another great article

Personal Responsibility - What Does it Really Mean to Begin Taking Responsibility?

By: Kevin Sinclair

Taking responsibility for yourself involves more than admitting wrong-doings or arriving on time for work: When you make a choice or devise a solution to a problem, you must be accountable for the results or outcomes. To truly take personal responsibility in life you need to let go of any concerns over how others live and the impact that potentially has on you. You need to own your emotions without blaming the actions of others for the way you feel, which certainly sounds simpler than it actually is!

It is absolutely imperative that you cease comparing yourself to others; thinking if you only had what they had you would be leading a higher quality of life. There will always be people who are better and worse off than you in all areas of your life, and from those two groups there will be people who have done less and more than you have. Take responsibility for the way you feel and your attitude to whatever you are faced with each day, and let go of the idea all together that you are in any way a victim to circumstances. The glass can be half full or half empty, and someone who's taking responsibility in life knows it is half full and will work with what they thankfully have.

For a person who considers themselves clueless when it comes to taking responsibility in their life, it is best to start small. Begin by looking at your interactions with other people and the control you possibly attempt to exert over situations. For example, if your partner makes a choice to go and spend their day at the beach and you feel upset because you weren't invited or advised about their plans, do you express this to them when you see them next? Do you say "Why didn't you invite me to the beach? I've been stuck here alone all day! You make me feel like you don't like my company!" This kind of reaction means you are giving away all personal responsibility for your own feelings and your own actions, and you are trying to control the feelings and actions of your loved one.

Take a moment to examine the facts: Every adult has every right to do whatever they choose with their life and their time. This having been said, why should others be made to feel like they should change their plans or desires or live their life according to what you want? When someone who has evolved to the point where taking responsibility comes naturally to them, there will be nothing worse than another person trying to "make" them feel guilty or wrong for doing things the way they want to. Using the above example, a person who has developed personal responsibility will see their loved one isn't around, recognize that they feel a bit bored or lonely at that time, and take responsibility for themselves by choosing to go shopping, or perhaps go to the beach.

You push through the desire to blame other or your partner, get up, go out and do your own thing, and you are opening yourself up to have your own awesome experiences. Maybe that day you bump into an old employer who wants to interview you for an employment opening in his new company, or perhaps you see your English Literature professor at the drug store, giving you a chance to discuss a problem you have with an assignment? When these things happen, and you are on your own path, you feel inspired, motivated and proud of taking responsibility for yourself. It is these experiences that propel you to take further risks, chances and confident leaps of faith to advance in life.

Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the big picture of dreams that seem completely unachievable, focus on the details and do the ground work to become an overall independent person, taking responsibility in every area of your life. If you fail to do this as soon as possible, you are risking entering into a state of regret and frustration, continuing to blame others for your circumstances. Write plans and follow through on every step necessary, the whole time remaining completely aware that you create your reality.

Surround yourself with positive people who are masters at taking responsibility so you don't have people trying to control or blame you for their situation. If you remember never to say to anyone (or think) that they "made" you do or feel something, and if you stay focused on yourself and your own life choices, you can proudly say you are taking responsibility in your life. Of course everything is not going to instantly become perfect, but through learning from the downs and treasuring the ups you will grow to know yourself better and steer your life in the right direction, responsibly.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Great Article

Take Ownership Of Your Emotions

If you're going to work towards happiness, you will need to know who controls your happiness. It’s a fairly common belief that a person can make another person feel bad. “She made me angry.” “He upset her.” “He really pissed the boss off this time.”

I am going to challenge this idea and propose that...

You can not, in any way, ever, MAKE someone feel anything.

When I have talked to people about this idea, they inevitably bring up the time when someone had upset them or made them angry. They say to me, “they caused my anger for if they had not been there, and said what they did, I would not have been angry.”

I can understand cause and effect in the physical world. I push the pencil and it rolls. I drop a glass and it shatters. But cause and effect don’t translate very well into the emotional world.

When someone says something to you, are the words going directly into your brain and switching on your "I'm upset" lever? When someone gives you the evil eye, are they shooting laser beams into your brain pushing your afraid button? When someone makes an unfavorable comment about your hair and you become offended, are they sending invisible "offend waves" causing your response? No, of course not. How can words, sent out as sound waves and picked up by your ears then translate into an emotional response? Is there nothing between those sound waves and your response?

I think people have difficulty understand this concept of responsibility for their emotions because they make no distinction between influence and control.

Influence & Control

There is a difference between the terms influence and control. Influence has the potential to impact. It's indirect. Control has a direct effect on a result. Lets look at one example and see how influence and control play out.

Terry is Mark’s wife. They’re having some financial difficulties and make an agreement to hold off on major purchases until they’re out of debt. One day while shopping, Terry sees a watch she loves and purchases it for $350.00. When Mark sees the credit card bill, he explodes in anger. “How could you?!?, he screams at Terry, “you know we're in debt!”

What caused Mark’s anger? Was it their financial situation? The credit card company? Terry’s purchase? The watch? All of the above?

In this particular case, none of them. Mark believes a “good husband” provides well for his family. When the bill for the watch came due, he almost instantly felt bad about himself for not being able to afford such things for her. His belief about what it means to be a good husband gave Terry's action a particular meaning, i.e.: he's not a good husband because he can't afford the watch. He looks for the cause of his feeling bad and sees Terry. He becomes angry at her for making him feel this way.

Terry, their financial situation, the credit card bill, were all influences on Mark’s belief about what it means to be a good husband. This is worth repeating. People and circumstances can have INFLUENCES on our beliefs. (The perverbial "He pushed my button.") But YOU have direct CONTROL over what you believe. Who controls what Mark believes? Who else could it be, but Mark. If Mark is the steward of his beliefs, then he has the power to examine and change those beliefs if he so chooses.

Outside stimuli like people and events can have influence (triggers) on our beliefs but it’s you and you alone that give meaning to those influences. No one can make you feel anything. Sure, they have influence. But it’s you alone that controls your beliefs.

Still not convinced? Let’s change Mark’s beliefs about what it means to be a good husband and see what happens.

Mark no longer believes he has to provide well for his wife to think of himself as a good husband. (He has a list of other things, but providing well isn't one of them.) It's no longer a prerequisite. They’re in the same situation, struggling financially, and Terry has purchased the expensive watch. Mark sees the bill.

He doesn’t become angry because he doesn’t question his value as a husband, but he is curious what happened since he and Terry had agreed to hold off on major purchases. He asks Terry about the bill. As it turns out, Terry had been feeling the desire for some type of luxury in her life. She’s been scrimping and saving for three months now and wanted to treat herself. She agrees she’s broken their agreement, apologizes and they discuss her feeling deprived. They decide that they will treat themselves to one nice dinner out a month to celebrate their financial restraint.

Mark changed his belief and by changing the belief, he changed his emotional response. Terry and her purchase were only influences on Mark. Those influences were powerless when the belief was changed. If Terry and her purchase were the cause of Mark’s anger, then he would have become angry regardless of his changed belief.

Claim your beliefs, feelings and actions as your own. Take back the reins of ownership, responsibility, and consequential control that comes with ownership. Let's take that outstretched finger we’ve been pointing at every one else, and turn it back towards ourselves. Not in blame, guilt or judgment, but for answers and growth.

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

-- Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
~Taken from