Responsibility – how does that word sit with you? Does it cause you to feel expanded or contracted? I’ve decided that responsibility is an O word. What does that mean? What is the O? For some, it is a ring of fire. For others it is a wormhole to higher consciousness. What the heck am I talking about?
Think of O as a looking glass, a lens. Heck, think of it as a hula hoop if that serves. Depending on how you view it and the way you relate to it, responsibility is (and here come the O-words) obligation, onerous, one-way, one-right-way, or it can be, for you, opportunity, options, optimization.
I’ve written about responsibility before and how we can re-resonate the word for ourselves by seeing it as our ability to respond. That works for a while. Then, something, someone comes along and we are triggered by the word, falling back again into the resonance of obligation. We feel imprisoned, victimized. We get blamed and we blame. We look forward to some illusive day of liberation equating it with “no more responsibility” and get that all mixed up with freedom.
What is the pivotal point? How can we infuse this word, responsibility, with light, love and power and beauty? (I realize that there are other cultures that will not get what the problem is at all and that’s wonderful. If you don’t have a problem with the word, carry on. You have better things to do with your time than read this.)
In order to take responsibility for my life, my feelings and my actions, I have to recognize that I am my own authority. I am the author of my life. I create my reality. I am the cause of my effect. OK, so stuff happens, but I am at choice regarding my reaction to and action around my circumstances.
As I pondered being my own authority, I flashed back on the many ways I’ve handed my authority over to others: parents, teachers, leaders, lovers, books. Yes, books. For the longest time, if it was in print, it must be so. Go figure…
I was an eager student in search of straight A’s, in search of perfection, in search of safety, belonging, security and knowing I was loved. If I could just get the formula right, just solve the problem of me, not life, me, then I could live “happily ever after.” That’s how it works, right? Happily Ever After!
It was only last year that I truly let myself and all of my multidimensional being off the hook for straight As. I’d inadvertently eaten a gluten meal and ruined my perfect record. Like so many are fond of saying, “I’m harder on myself than anyone else is on me.” I had every opportunity to be that way with myself again, but chose differently and experienced a profound shift. Take note those of you who resonate with being hard on yourself – it’s not something to boast about, this preemptive criticizing of one’s self. It’s downright self-destructive.
Where was I? Oh yes, responsibility and authority. You know when you get a kind of aha! that’s gentle and yet profound; the kind that feels like a ping on the temple that shakes something loose in the brain? That’s what I got this past weekend at a Lucid Living workshop on the Beauty of Belonging. There is no one right answer, no one right way to live. There are a multitude of possibilities from which to choose and I am the chooser. As the one who chooses, I am my own authority. What?!! No one right choice, just the one I choose out of a sea of possibility? How the heck do we get into heaven if we haven’t found that one key for that one gate?
It all fell away in an instance. My search for the key died right then and there. But here’s the important part. It didn’t fall away because I got that there’s not one right way. It fell away because I am meeting my own needs and I am not looking to have them met out there.
I’ve spent my life being my own rebellious authority from the obligation and opposition side of the O lens of responsibility. I’ve defined who I am to myself in resistance to, comparison with and belonging among.
I’m a freedom junkie as are many of you. We hunger for freedom and I hear it in my clients all the time. I’ve written about freedom from and freedom to in other articles and posts and I have given it as an inquiry to clients, and now, for me, it is landing at a deeper level.
As long as I was defining myself in resistance to, I was looking to be free from. As long as I was looking to become free from, I was wearing responsibility like a noose. I was looking to be free of obligations while living in a world (that I fabricated) of obligation. Sounds suspect doesn’t it?
We can never be free as long as we are trying to be free from, because the resonance of that is one of blame, defensiveness, denial and resistance. As we all know, what we resist, persists. Besides, what is a rebel without a cause?
On the opportunity and options side of the responsibility lens, the resonance of freedom is not to be free from, but free to. I am free to choose, free to create, free to say yes and free to say no, free to love what I love. I am free to, because I am responsible.
What happens when we stand at that cross-roads of the choice to accept or shun responsibility can be daunting. If I am no longer in resistance to or trying to get myself free from, then I am no longer defined by my resistance. If I am no longer who I have known myself to be then who am I and what do I want, REALLY? Sit with that question for yourself a moment. How free are you to even look for the answer to that question? How much of your answer is shaped by the fact that you’ve stuffed it for so long it’s downright painful to even begin the excavation process? If you know the answer and you are not creating that for yourself, what is the responsibility you are unwilling to take?
When we know what it is we really want; when we hear our soul’s calling and take full responsibility for our lives, our reality shifts. That shift will create some manner of chaos big or small, because chaos is a necessary precursor to change. For me, this time, it will be small, because I’ve been through the big ones and I’ve done it the painful way: in resistance, getting myself out from under.
This time, I know it will be gentler and kinder, because I am gentler and kinder to myself and I have done the work internally coming to know that I belong in this world exactly as I am, in fact, more so as I am. I’ve met the enemies of the judge, trickster, debt collector and dark lover within. I’ve been mean and critical to myself. I’ve played all kinds of mind games. I’ve made myself pay for anything I could have possibly done that was wrong and I’ve tarried far too long in suffering and struggling.
I’ve learned the hard way (which is something my mom once told me is the way I seem to do it). Well, mom, Happy Mother’s Day – I’m not doing it the hard way anymore. And guess what? I’ve totally forgiven myself for all of that and include all I’ve been and done in the wholeness of my journey.
It’s a huge leap of faith, this courage of my convictions, this full on authoring of my own life without ghostwriters, this resonance of responsibility as opportunity and free to. It’s not my familiar home. And yet, as I say that, I suspect, for the soul and the heart, it is the more familiar and truer home.
So, choose your O-words for responsibility. You already do and now, I invite you to do so consciously and lovingly.
Note 1: A huge hug of gratitude to Lucid Living (Leza Danly and Jeanine Mancusi and all my Lucid Living tribe) for guiding and loving me through the maze.
Note 2: Today would have been the 30th anniversary of my marriage which died, officially, over 6 years ago. It seems more than appropriate that today, on this date, I would be writing about authoring my own life. Healing takes time. Healing is becoming whole. It’s worth the journey, every step of the way.
Note 3: this is my 99th blog post. Next one, #100, will be a celebration in more ways than one!
Copyright© May 2012, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved.