Self Responsibility as a Life Focus

self responsibility

The key discipline for an elegant life is self-responsibility

Self-responsibility means claiming ownership of all of yourself.

When I’m sitting with a client, I point to their feet and to their head, and say, “Everything going on in there, from head to foot, is you. Nothing in there has anything whatsoever to do with outside forces, other people, your history or your stories.
In there is just you, messing with yourself.”

In Zen, we push this further, and come to the place of recognizing that my concept of self is an illusion made up of the stories I tell myself. In its essence, life just “is,” and manifests (for a time) as something that seems to be me. However, I exist as a process, not as a fixed thing.


How do you like those bubbles?

For example, think about water bubbles. Inside of the bubble is air. It is not substantially different from the air on the outside of the bubble. The bubble itself is just water, stretched over air, and is not substantially different from the rest of the water.

Now, we might say that single bubble has identity and self-ness, (likely feeling a bit silly doing so, though…) but really, the bubble is just a process that exists for a short time and pops. As it does, nothing remains that is unique — it simply returns to the “ground of its being.”

Now, if you actually read that, you might be squirming, and defending your self.

Of course I exist and am unique! There is no one else like me on the planet! Here I am, right here! And stop reminding me that some day I’m going to ‘pop!’ ”

Well, I won’t debate that with you, right now. So, if you think you are right there, and unique, how come when something goes wrong, you don’t say, “Wow. There I go, doing that again. I think I’ll stop myself and get back on another path?” Why do you typically blame others or blame yourself for the things you judge to be wrong?

Self responsibility is the first step in gaining freedom from the drama you have been creating.


It’s never my responsibility!

It does not help anything to judge a situation good or bad, or to blame what you are experiencing on others. Declaring something bad is a philosophical game.

Example: Haiti. “Oh, what a bad situation. Those poor people. Terrible things like that just should not happen.”

Now, philosophically, most of us might agree. But so what? What does such an agreement change, on the ground in Haiti?

No, what changes things is seeing the earthquake, and doing something!

Let’s hop on a plane and fly in some supplies and doctors.”

Judgements of good and bad, right and wrong, are just mind games. Self-responsible people ask, “What, specifically will I do regarding this?”

People do what they do, and situations happen, and our instinct is to tell a story, point a finger, and think we’ve done something. Or, we think “I’m in pain! Someone should fix this!” But no one can.

Sure, if you break a bone, a doctor can set it, and a physiotherapist can help you by giving you exercises to do. But in the end, if you don’t do the exercises, you lose mobility. Self responsible people stop trying to figure out why something happened, and turn to the discipline of getting mobility back. Getting freedom back. getting balance back.

Self-responsibility is the recognition that others are not here to make you happy, healthy, horny, content, or fulfilled. That’s your job.

I haven’t hung around with Darbella for 28 years because of what she can do for me. I hang around with her because I choose to find her interesting, and challenging, and delightful. She’s not here to make my life easier, although she does. She’s not here to fix me, or correct me, or “train me.” She’s here because she chooses to watch me live my life, and chooses to share her life with me.

For us, self-responsibility is not optional, or for use when it’s convenient. It’s an all the time, all situations way of being.

You get there by talking for yourself, about yourself, and always living up to what you say you’re going to do.

No wonder there are so few self-responsible people! And so much blame and self-recrimination.

It stops when you stop playing games with yourself, and stop telling victim stories. Only then can you move on with lightness and grace.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Go to the top of this article, click on the title, and leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.