My journey to recognizing the power of responsibility started with my commitment to creating more space in the day for myself.
I set aside a couple of hours one morning to go for a long walk and devote time to self care.
It was lovely.
Crisp fall air, a clear blue sky, a journal under my arm and a steaming hot chai in my hand. I sat down on the edge of a dock and looked out to the harbor. I felt ease in my belly and a smile spread across my face.
I habitually reached into my pocket and took my phone out. Within seconds my inbox was binging and I was reading an email from a colleague asking for a final revision of a a set of handouts.
My attention was no longer on the lapping water and glowing sunshine.
My mind was racing to when I’d be able to get back to my computer and complete the edits. Right on the heels of my busy mind adding to my to-do list, I started to feel angry.
How could she disturb my peaceful morning? She knew I was taking some time for myself and she emailed me anyway. Couldn’t she have waited until I was back in the office? This wasn’t the first time, after all. She regularly sent me lists of tasks to do just as I decided to take a break.
I looked up for a second, and saw the same calm glistening water.
I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin and I stopped. I took a deep breath and looked down at the email, then up at the water. Another deep breath and I knowing sigh of realization.
The only thing that had changed was my attitude, where I was putting my attention.
The beautiful day was still there and so was I.
The emails continue to pour in and there will always be something else to do. I realized for those few moments I’d been blaming my colleague when at the root of it, I was angry at myself.
I was the one who had chosen to open my email on a walk. I was the one who then spiraled into a panic about when I could catch up on my to do list.
I was the one who had left the present moment.
I was the one who could only handle a few moments of bliss before brining myself down with looking at my phone. After all, what was I looking for in my inbox anyway?
What did I think I would find there that would enhance my time outdoors?
Those few breaths brought me back to the present.
I got to choose responsibility instead of drama.
I returned to my own power rather than getting stuck in a pattern of blaming my colleague, feeling overwhelmed and sorry for myself or jumping to a series of “fix-it” conclusions. I was able to accept full responsibility for the situation.
The world will continue to offer you a million opportunities to claim responsibility over drama and the first step is to simply breathe and recognize that you have options.
It wasn’t until a couple of days later that I came up with a new agreement—I will set aside a couple of times each day to check email and respond at that time.
I had been using my incessant checking as a way to bring myself down from the freedom and joy of the moment and ensure I was jumping back onto the hamster wheel of multitasking.
It’s a new practice for me to set such clear boundaries and recognize that the sneakiest one of all to enforce boundaries with is myself.
Have you noticed that a certain issue keeps repeating itself in your life?
Do you feel the effect of someone else, blame them or yourself, or seek relief from the problem with temporary fixes?
If so, I invite you to explore this inquiry and take the first step to discovering the power of responsibility.
1. What’s something you’ve been complaining about repeatedly?
2. Allow yourself to get unconscious about it for a a couple of minutes. Complain out loud about all the ways this issue is annoying you.
3. Pause and take a few deep breaths.
4. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to take full responsibility for this issue?” (You might not know what that means or even what that would look like, it really is the unknown.)
5. If your answer is yes, then take a few more deep breaths and ask yourself, “I wonder what I might not yet know about this issue?”
Your ahas may arrive in the moment or days later. See how long you can remain open.
6. If your answer is no, take a few breaths and get with the reality that you’re more interested in keeping the drama right now and know that this is okay. You can’t force responsibility, it arises when you’re fully willing.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer.
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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock