Personal responsibility – it sounds so grown up. So adult. So dry, in a way. But the thing is, without it life feels pretty crappy. You get into this slippery state where things just slide by you without really engaging. The to-do list piles up, the difference between the way you actually are and the way you want to be grows increasingly wider. Some part of you knows you aren’t living the right life and in the beginning that part is easy to ignore, but that little voice gets louder and louder and shows up in all kinds of mysterious ways. Why? Because while you’re letting things slide, you’re also giving away your power.
Your power is the most precious thing you have and you’re letting it slip through your fingers because personal responsibility is hard. It is so easy to give away your own power, and often it slips by you unnoticed. It happens every time you allow something else to have power over you. What does that mean? Simple. If you aren’t acknowledging ownership, then you’re stating your powerlessness.
Here’s an example. I had my daughter (lovely girl) 11 months ago today. She is amazing and wonderful and brings me so much joy and happiness. She also gives me a great excuse not to do some of the things that are actually necessary for me to live the life I want – like exercise (but I’m running around after a toddler – surely that’s exercise enough) and meditate (who has the time?!?) That excuse is actually a reason for a while, because really when there’s no sleep and you’re desperately trying to keep your head above water something really does have to give. But now? When she has two good naps per day and doesn’t always sleep through the night, but does sometimes. Now is it a reason? Nope. It’s just the story I’ve been telling myself as I let my personal responsibility, my power, drain away. Now it’s easy to say that it’s a minor thing, but the person who pays for this is me. I don’t feel strong in my body (my fault). I notice more of the scattered monkey-mind coming in. I don’t have my normal energy level. Why? Because I’m just not stepping up to the plate. It could be habit, it could just be that the little voice that recognizes I’m not being the me I want to be hasn’t been loud enough until today.
Red Flags that You Have Given Away Your Power
The red flags are flying out there for everyone to see, but when you’re on the inside they sound perfectly reasonable. Let’s do the three biggest:
- You’re getting further from your goals or standing still. The difference between how you’re living and how you want to be living is getting bigger, not smaller. You’re moving away from your goals.
- You start using powerless words. These could be the words you say out loud and also the words you use in your head. Here are some of the easiest to recognize (but there are plenty more)
- I really wanted to, but…
- I just can’t because you know how bad [the economy, my joints, my marriage, the 2000s …] is…
- I’ll get started when [I have the money, I have extra time, aliens land…]
- I just have to [do this thing I’ve been saying I”d do for a year but haven’t done yet] first and then I’ll…
- Some part of your life feels out of control. Like you aren’t driving the ship, you’re being driven (or swimming desperately behind). You can’t seem to get around the mess, the clutter, your weight, your health, all the things you haven’t said to your partner, your kids… whatever.
Okay – So That Might Be Me. Now What?
Step 1 is to take back your power. And here’s the quickest way. This is a take back your power lifehack. I want you to sign a contract with yourself – a contract of personal responsibility. Here’s a .pdf copy to download ContractofResponsibility
Step 2 is up to you. Here’s the thing – it’s easy to keep giving away your power. To say I can’t because of this or that. So here are some exercises to do around this:
- Try reading the contract out loud to yourself in the mirror. You may notice that some parts are actually hard to say, or your brain comes up with an instant “but.” Pay attention to what is triggering you. This may bring up all kinds of anger, indignation, and furious backlash about how someone really is stopping you from doing something. Are they? Are they really? To what degree are you willing to allow that person to continue to have power over you? These are questions only you can answer.
- Start to look at your sense of yourself in the world. Are you adopting a victim place? Where someone has done something to you and because of that things aren’t right? No doubt there are people who may have done you wrong, people who you have felt haven’t treated you well, or who have outright abused or violated you. These events can be incredibly hard to get over, but until you do get over it, until you choose to take your power back and stop giving it to that person, you will continue to be powerless.
- Forgive, forgive, forgive. Mostly forgive yourself and move on.
I hope this is helpful, and I’ll have you know I have both exercised and meditated today because the truth is that I just wasn’t taking personal responsibility, and now I am. I was giving my power away to my daughter, and while I would give her anything in the world if it would actually benefit her, it will benefit her more to see her mom being powerful. Use this lifehack today to take your power back and start taking personal responsibility and if you feel like sharing a story I’d love to hear it in the comments.
Great article! I totally agree! We should be the only ones responsible for our own health and happiness.