Learning to Accept Responsibility
The principle of responsibility, like that of personal honesty, is of paramount importance in the world of personal and spiritual growth. This is not a rule of man, but one of nature and that rule is our actions have consequences. There is a strong correlation between responsibility and honesty. A lack of honesty generally means one is not taking responsibility, and vice versa.
In the Bible, the Ten Commandments are an interpretation of “divine law” through a prophet (I am not necessarily agreeing with the Commandments or their wording). Consider the seven deadly sins as another example of man’s interpretation of the laws of nature. The fundamental premise is that there are consequences to causing harm to others. Not because it is a sin, or contravention of divine law, rather because the laws of the universe say that for every action there is a reaction.
When we manifest lower energies, we will need to deal with them at some point in this life or the next. When people do not act a certain way or as told, it leads to lower emotions, typically those associated with anger, guilt and blame. Avoiding the act does not clear the issue within us, no matter how long you avoid it; it partially isolates it and creates a mental barrier. Depending on the individual's will power (not to be confused with Will) one may be able to stop the activity; however, we are only avoiding an unresolved issue. Unresolved issues can lead to very serious physical, emotion, or even mental consequences. The term "will power", as it is commonly used, refers to the ability to resist or control, the power of ones will comes from within and is an understanding that all volition is universal, rather than personal.
Breaches of particular religious commandments in deed or thought, certainly in western religion are sins. The idea of sin, as previously stated, is a man made construct, it is not an actual law of the universe. There are simply actions, or choices and consequences. The reason I have brought Christian beliefs into the discussion is they are the dominant Western religious belief. We can make a similar case in regards to any religions that contains a doctrine of sin.
We would all agree that if you heat water to a high enough temperature it boils. In a similar fashion, when we do not take responsibility for the energies we manifest we allow them to build up. If we remove the heat source, the water will cool; otherwise, it will get warmer. In a similar fashion, we will continue to build up of lower energies in our aura as long as the source of the imbalance remains. The result being we continue to attract energies, indeed experiences of a similar kind. To resolve this one must remove the source.
The source of the imbalance is poor programming of the rational mind. We have learned how to avoid personal responsibility in situations where our mind determines it will benefit us. This does not mean it actually is of benefit, only that at some level we believe this to be so. We must accept our responsibilities, not avoid them. However, learning to do this, making it a part of you is not a simple task. As with many of the principles I have talked about in this study guide, you take it one-step at a time. It likely took your whole life to put you where you are, do not expect yourself to correct it in a few weeks. Use your developing honesty to help you “see” where you responsibilities lie in any given situation. From there you can explore why you felt and likely continue to feel differently about it. We cannot resolve our issues without taking responsibility for our thoughts, to make an effort to examine them.
The task is more difficult because most of the problems that have led us to be irresponsible relate to events buried in our childhood. However, we do not always have to be able to remember what happened to deal with it. We can do that by working on it in the present. Do not let setbacks deter you. Try to take it easy, pick you battles, and work on it.
The key is to work on accepting TOTAL RESPONSIBLITY for your actions.
Determining what one is responsible for is not easy. Again, as I have mentioned before, it is not a matter of right and wrong or good and evil. It is a matter of choices and consequences regardless of our conscious awareness of them. Responsibility is generally defined as accountability or being answerable for a particular duty, trust or obligation.
The question is who determines what our responsibilities are? You could argue that society does, our employers, friends, associates do and so forth. The actual answer is that all of these and none of these do. Responsibility is what we choose to accept regardless of external influences on us. We make these choices, based on our experiences, and our awareness and acceptance of responsibilities presented to us from without.
Let us consider a situation where a rock falls off a mountain and someone dies as a result. Is the rock responsible for crushing them? It is true that the falling rock crushed them; however, no one would say the rock is not responsible for the act. The rock did not make the choice to fall. Responsibility enters the equation when we choose, whether we are conscious of the choice or not.
The question of how far our responsibility extends is another matter. Take the case someone’s feelings are hurt by someone I have said. Am I responsible for hurting the others feelings? The answer is no. The person whose feelings were hurt are responsible for their own feelings, I am responsible for the reasons that led me to say it and for speaking it. If the intent of my words was to hurt, belittle, show superiority and so on, then I have an issue to deal with; however, it is separate from the issue the person I said them to has. What we have in this case is two people with separate issues expressed through a shared experience.
The above situation is deliberately simplistic to help clarify the basic responsibility we have. In reality, our interactions are rarely so cut and dried with only one factor in play. Our interactions occur on many levels so it is helpful to consider our responsibility in relation to our interactions one aspect at a time. At the same time we must also be honest. For instance, we all have dealt with situations where we have been asked a question and we believe the other persons feelings could be hurt by our answer. Do we say the truth as we see, say something dishonest to spare their feelings or avoid answering? There is no definitive answer to this. This is part of the lessons of life. We could say the truth and lose a friend and future opportunities to help them because they are unable to handle the honesty or we could spare their feelings by lying or avoiding yet miss the current opportunity to help them. Further, both of these are based on our presumption of what is right or beneficial for them. We must examine our thoughts and feelings about answering their question and when we do answer it is with the best interests of all in mind. We also must be careful that we are not trying to control the person, situation or outcome by how we choose to answer. There will always be some measure of uncertainty until such a time as we have learned to quiet our restless mind and listen to our intuition unfettered by our own thoughts. In the meantime, we make choices and observe and integrate the outcome, this is how we learn.
Our responsibilities extend to all our interactions with others and over all our thoughts. We have responsibilities in the moment based on our actions, and responsibilities for the ideas we support and believe in. In a basic one on one interaction, it is is fairly easy to see who is responsible for what. It can be harder to accept that our thoughts about certain concepts become part of the collective consciousness of man, and hence can influence others we do not even know.
Thoughts are energy, and they do not simply vanish after we think them. It moves like a wave and if strong, can affect similar energies in others inducing the thought in them (this is the basis of many forms of telepathy). Few realize that disapproval of gays in part facilitates the negative actions taken towards them by others. Our thoughts radiate from us, they can influence the weak minded or those predisposed to them. We are not responsible for the act itself, that resides with the person doing it; however, our thoughts can play a role, hence our responsibility.
Our responsibilities for our thoughts are much more challenging to discern than say an act where the consequences are visible. We are responsible, in whole or part, for various aspects of any given interaction. A different degree of responsibility is associated with each aspect; one can consider them as layers of responsibility.
The layers of potential responsibilities in an interaction include:
The responsibilities of the person(s) in the interaction
Responsibilities all parties share
My responsibility for others
The part those connected to us share in it.
The part shared by all humankind.
The parts I do not know about that I also share....
In every action we perform, there are shared portions. If I hit you then I have my part to accept responsibility for, you would have to take responsibility for being in the place and time where I could hit you. You may be inclined to say that you were there by accident, but in the universe, there are no accidents. Everything happens for a reason. In this example, my responsibility for the act is clearly visible, while the other person appears to have none as it is behind a veil, hidden from view. That is we do not know what drew them, consciously or otherwise, to be at that place and time to be hit.
There are countless reasons why we allow ourselves to become victims. We need to ask ourselves what actions or energies are we manifesting that the other person reacted to, and as mentioned above, what brought me to that location in the first place? Perhaps he or she ignored the feeling that they should have stayed home, maybe they were in a hurry, they were not paying attention to their intuition or maybe they made choices long ago that resulted in their being there. I realize it sounds like I blaming the victim for being in the wrong place. This is definitely not so. I am blaming no one. There is no blame, only responsibility. Blame is a tangle of negative emotions created through our response to an experience.
Beyond “my part, and your part” is our part. That which binds us to that place and time together. It is what drew us to share the experience. If the event is a catastrophic one, or one with huge consequences in our lives then the bond is greater, perhaps linked to other experiences in this life, or in another life. Family relations, and close friendships are often this way. There are also responsibilities we share based on our culture, our laws.
For example, take a culture that has imposes the death penalty for a crime. Is the person who pulls the switch a murderer? No, the culture shares the burden. The person who acts for the whole takes some responsibility though not the bulk of it. I am not referring to feelings of hate, as these belong mostly to the individual expressing them; however, when a society condones, fosters or allows such acts to occur then all people of that culture share some responsibility. While this may be a graphic example, it is useful in illustrating the concept of shared responsibility. We cannot use the notion of shared ignorance to excuse the acts of our society; to do so is an abdication of personal responsibility. Society is not a separate entity; it is the collective “we”. When we change, it will, not before.
Learning to accept responsibility begins with starting to recognize where in our lives we not accepting responsibility or have not. Looking at our personal strengths and weaknesses helps us in this. Our weaknesses will point us to a number of areas where may not be taking full responsibility, giving us a place where we can start to do so.
As we did in our work on honesty, we can examine areas in our life where we struggle with responsibility. Ask yourself similar questions to the ones you did when you worked on the Honesty Table. This will help pinpoint the areas where you struggle with responsibility. Target those areas where you can improve your sense of responsibility with the least effort or the ones you must deal with. By going after them, and succeeding, we build an additional foundation to stand one, one from where we are more likely to succeed when we work on the harder ones.
Accepting responsibility also makes a significant difference in the development of our spiritual and psychic aspects. By this, I mean responsibility for all our deeds and all our thoughts as well. When we accept responsibility for every aspect of our lives, there is less clutter in our minds. Those who do this find it easier to meditate, to relax in general. It is likely they will be happier, friendlier and more at ease with life in general. There are fewer issues to work past, or around when we clear up our thoughts. This also raises our vibration rate. Our daily meditations are easier, fuller, more satisfying and successful. By accepting responsibility for our actions, we begin to enable the skill to listen to the world around us. We are less frightened of ghosts in the closet, able to see ourselves more honestly accelerating the growth process.
Our responsibilities are not always clearly visible. We often proceed with uncertainty. When we are open to accepting personal responsibility, they start to show themselves to us. It is as if they hide so long as we are not serious about doing anything about them. They end up wrapped in knots of blame and guilt, of anger and jealousy. These in turn are likely “causes” for some of many of our personal and life problems. At the same time, we must be careful that we are not accepting responsibility for others lives. We are not here to do their work for them nor are we here to try to control what they do. Legal obligations or parental considerations aside, we must be very careful we do not assume responsibility for the choices, actions or lives of others. They have their own lessons to learn and further, our need to be responsible for them may be due to our lack of being responsibility for ourselves. After all, if we can get others to be as we believe they should be we make them responsible for our need thereby avoiding responsibility ourselves.
It should be obvious that, at least at an intellectual level that accepting responsibility helps us to clear up the mental debris in our rational mind. Developing the personal awareness that one should be taking responsibility for the experiences in their lives is the initial step towards accepting responsibility.
Improved clarity gives us a greater return for our efforts. This is due to spending less time working against ourselves. We can put the effort we do not expend here towards other goals. We get stronger and internal resistance starts to fade. Push yourself in this area and pursue self-responsibility in all your acts and thoughts as often as you can.
Elements of Personal Responsibility
© 2009 Allan Beveridge