I have been thinking a lot lately about the subject of self responsibility, as I reorganize my private practice so that I can focus on working with clients who are willing to acknowledge their center-stage role in the creation of their lives.
I'm gratified to notice that the idea of owning one's own choices, decisions, behaviors and beliefs is starting to pop up everywhere: in the media (Oprah and Dr. Phil), in psychology (moving from the pathology/victim model to one of empowerment), in books, and in various presentations given by members of the healing/intuitive arts community.
I'm calling this article "Self Accountability" instead of "Self Responsibility" because of something I read in a delightful book by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks, called "How We Choose To Be Happy."
The authors' definition of "accountability" is: "The choice to create the life you want to live, to assume full responsibility for your actions, thoughts and feelings, and the emphatic refusal to blame others (or anything) for your own unhappiness."
The book states that, "The word accountability can be misleading. Many of us associate it with being called to account. This is a harsh cultural concept that says we must be responsible to an external authority. This interpretation is full of shoulds -- mandates delivered from on high. There is a difference between accountability and responsibility. Although accountable people are responsible, responsible people are not necessarily accountable. Responsible people do all that is required of them . . . but that doesn't mean that they're happy, especially if, along the way, they're blaming the boss, complaining about the kids, and allowing external events to control the direction of their lives."
In working with this issue with my clients, we address self-accountability on two levels: behavioral and through expanded consciousness.On the behavioral level, looking at our choices, decisions, commitments, actions, etc., is very straightforward. For example, if you eat food that causes your particular body to hold onto old fat and to create new fat, you will gain weight. If you don't exercise or move, you will likely experience the results of that decision. If you don't practice self-care, your body could decline.
I will admit to watching Dr. Phil on occasion (sometimes his cute, good-old-boy cliches trigger my gag reflex, but you have to hand it to the guy for putting self-accountability squarely in the face of those in denial) and I especially enjoyed the chaos that ensued when he suggested to a panel of overweight individuals that they are fat by choice.
Of course genetics plays a role. But I've seen too many large people, who come from a long line of genetically large people, decide to take control of their lives, make other choices and create new possibilities, to say that genetics is the only "cause."
So, over the years I have begun to take for granted that we are powerful choosers (often to our own detriment). Our decisions, actions, choices, etc., are directly related to our current state of affairs. But that's only the tip of the iceberg.
Exploring the expanded consciousness level is a little trickier and it requires an open mind.
One of the things I believe is that we have attracted whatever we are experiencing. I mean literally. Whatever we give attention to accepts our invitation and shows up. Thoughts, beliefs, intentions, patterns, habits, neuroses have energetic substance, and "reality" manifests through the Law of Attraction (like attracts like).
Are we aware of sending out these invitations? Mostly not. We have a lot of unquestioned material floating around in the inner world which we just don't think about. That unquestioned material, some of which we put in our pockets during childhood and adolescence, is very magnetic, and if you want to know what you REALLY believe -- what part of you is REALLY driving the bus -- take a look at your outer life. It is a magnificent mirror of your vibrational/energetic signature.
This is where it gets interesting, because we are often certain that we are doing everything possible to make good choices, decisions, etc., yet we keep on finding ourselves still wallowing in familiar manure. Could it be those pesky beliefs, patterns, etc.?
Basically, we don't want to take responsibility or be accountable. We go to great lengths to find excuses for our choices. We create amazing cover stories in order to make sense of what appears to be beyond our control. We want something or someone else to be responsible.
But then, who do I blame, you say? If there's nothing/no one to blame, how do I make sense out of all the stuff that happens? If I'm not possessed by demons, or under the powerful influence of some planetary aspect, or a victim of the fast food industry, or the Confused Adult Child of Politically Incorrect Parents, or a leaf in the wind, then what is the deal? Are you saying that I'm doing all this? You mean I need to blame myself?
You're doing it, but probably not on purpose.
Any form of blame -- of self or other -- is a waste of time, and it is a distraction from getting on with taking friendly ownership of everything you've focused on up to this moment. I think that no matter how influential genetics, past lives, karma, childhood events, angels, history, astrology, etc., may be, you are still the chooser right now. What you choose, moment to moment -- both energetically/vibrationally and behaviorally -- overrides all other influences. Yet we love to pretend that isn't true.
I believe that the Divine gifted us with the absolute ability to direct our lives, and that the choice to frolic here on planet Earth was a joyful one, made so that what we are can have ever-more-interesting experiences (in all different shades and textures). What if it isn't a punishment to be here? What if suffering is just another choice? What if -- on the Soul level -- there is no such human-created concept as "lessons?" What if it really is about joyful exploration. Why do we resist that possibility?
Choosing to be compassionately self-accountable means that the buck stops gently with you. That instead of focusing on what is wrong and who is to blame, you instead turn your attention to the solution, or what you'd prefer, and you take a stand for yourself -- over and over again.
Is it easy to swim against the tide of decisions you've made in the past? Maybe not. Is it possible? Absolutely.