Self-responsibility as a Way of Being
Where better to leave this year of Into the Centre than with one more pitch for self-responsibility. I was sitting with a client last week, and as with all clients the conversation came around to what I think of as "simple self-responsibility." I stick the word "simple" in there to indicate one thing - self-responsibility ain't rocket science. Try this on for size:
I, and only I, am responsible for the choices I am making.
I, and only I, am responsible for the
consequences of the choices I make.
Here a couple couple of "honesty" ideas, from Susan Campbell::
- You can only be honest about yourself.
- You can only be as honest as you are self-aware.
- Freedom is just another word for nothing left to hide.
Notice, dear hearts, the stress on the importance of honesty, which is a major element of self-responsibility. This is so because self-responsibility requires self-transparency. In other words,
if I am going to be self-aware and self-responsible, I need to be able to see through my own games and lies and move toward transparent honesty about the only thing I can be honest about - me.
Now, people are always going off about how, if they are honest with someone about something, that the other person is going to be angry, or kick them out, or be heartbroken. There are two major problems with this thought process.
1) It implies a basic misunderstanding about who hurts whom. I can only do what I do. The person I am with chooses what to do with what I do.
2) It indicates a guilty conscience. If I know myself and am clear as to my motivation and my direction, why would I then fear to let others know what I am doing and why?
The place we are "pushing" toward with Into the Centre is a place of living one's life as an open book. It's a place where, far from sneaking through life, we confront ourselves while walking in integrity. Lest you think this is an impossible task, we break it down:
I am required to be honest and direct with the grocery clerk, as it applies to my limited contact with him or her. They don't need to know everything I know about myself as I buy pasta sauce.
With the people I choose to be in relationship with, however, I want to be in the place of saying, "This is everything I know about myself right now. Here is who I am and what I'm doing." And, of course, I expect the same from my partner.
Every time we choose to push a boundary, every time we choose to look at another way of being and/or doing something, there are consequences. Personal consequences come from having to deal with a new version of ourselves. As we expand a boundary or choose another behaviour, we have to re-explore and re-know who we are, and this process almost always includes a bit (or more J ) of discomfort. Within our self-exploratory process there are, of course, our infamous three choices.
1) I can accept myself and my new choice, and gently expand and "put out there" my re-boundaried self.
2) I can give myself shit for changing and blame everyone else for "making me change."
3) I can "leave." In other words, as regards a new choice of how I "am," I can look at the shift, evaluate it, decide it was an "interesting" experiment, and I can choose, while being honest about having had the experience, to not have it again.
Needless to say, we promote either response 1 or 3.
The more you choose to do this work, the more you'll find yourself moving to the fringes of "polite society." (That's why we call this column "The Fringe Dweller's Guide…" ala Stuart Wilde) Personal, Transparent Honesty is so unique in our society as to be mind-blowing when confronted. Ruthless self-responsibility (no blaming, no bitching) is so rare as to seem like a miracle. The willingness to be clear, direct and focussed without the need to "sell" your POV to others (to make or help others "get it,") is unusual in the extreme. The latter (fixing others) is so prevalent - and I like remembering that Jesus was rumoured to have said, "Physician, heal yourself."
It's self-responsibility, remember?
Well, thanks for another great year of hanging out with Dar and me through the good offices of Into the Centre. Your feedback and questions are important and appreciated, as is knowing we have this written connection. See you in the New Year!