“No matter how much I protest, I am 100% responsible for what happens to me in my life.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
Agree or disagree with this statement?
Personally, I agree. Without a shadow of a doubt, we are all 100% responsible for what happens to us in our lives.
There is a chance you’re thinking, “This is absurd, Will, how can we be 100% responsible for what happens to us in our lives? That means being responsible for everything, even all the terrible stuff that happens to us. What about trauma victims? What about the people in the world who lose their homes to natural disasters? What of those suffering from cancer?”
Now, if this sounds something like your trail of thought, bear with me. I hear you, I really do.
Allow me to share with you my truth. Stepping into this new perspective just might change your world. Part of you may feel daunted, but part of you, I can almost guarantee, will feel liberated.
I first heard this statement about responsibility in 2016, during one of Dr. Dyer’s guided meditations on YouTube. I had really gotten into this particular guided meditation. It was an Ahhh meditation, requiring me to—you guessed it—Ahhh along with Dr. Dyer, and project this ancient sound out into the world.
There I sat each morning, alone on the cool and smooth tiles of my living room floor, Ahhh-ing away.
”Wow, I’m so spiritual, right now,” I would think to myself, just before thinking, ”That’s not a very spiritual way of thinking, is it?”
Anyway, after about 10 minutes, Dr. Dyer would introduce the second part of the guided meditation. In his distinct and deep voice, he would say, ”We will now consider the affirmations of the day.”
On the whole, these affirmations resonated with me:
I know in each moment I am free to decide, and my past is nothing more than the trail I have left behind.
What drives my life today is the energy I generate in each of my present moments.
Naturally, my mind would commentate:
”Nice, so true, we are free to decide—and wow, you’re on fire, Wayne, the past is nothing more than the trail I’ve left behind.”
All of my mind’s commentary sounded like this, positive and in agreement. Well, almost all.
One affirmation just never sat right with me, and you may have guessed which affirmation this was:
No matter how much I protest, I am totally responsible for what happens to me in my life.
”Bullsh*t!” my mind would scream in ironic protest.
”The other affirmations—faultless, Wayne, good job. I’m with you, mate. But this one…I’m not buying.”
My attention now torn away from the guided meditation, I would sit, embarrassed, as if a potty-mouthed friend had just barged in on my ultra-spiritual moment.
”Man, I was doing so well up until that point,” I sulked.
Try as I might, every time I heard this affirmation, my reaction was the same. I just couldn’t appreciate it—as far as I was concerned, it was wrong. It was as wrong as if Dr. Dyer had been pointing at a white wall and telling me it was black.
Then, one day, the penny dropped.
I was listening to a podcast, and Tony Robbins, speaking about responsibility, said this simple sentence:
“Responsibility literally means ‘the ability to respond.'”
The cogs in my mind began to turn…
Hang on a minute, so what Dr. Dyer is really saying is this: no matter how much I protest, I am totally able to respond to what happens to me in my life.
Boom. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I got it, finally.
This felt so different from my original train of thought.
The problem with the word responsibility is it has become synonymous with the word blame.
“Who is responsible?” has evolved to mean “Who is to blame?” or “Whose fault is this?”
It was fascinating for me to observe the difference, emotionally, between viewing responsibility in these two lights.
When I viewed responsibility as being about blame, a strange cocktail of emotions came up: shame, shock, helplessness. I felt like a victim. However, now that I view responsibility as our ability to respond, well, I feel empowered, able, liberated. I feel like a victor, an owner of my fate.
Because isn’t it true, no matter what life throws at us, that we are able to respond on some level?
We are able to respond by choosing what meaning we give to events—is this a problem or an opportunity? We are able to respond by deciding what actions we will take as a result of what happens to us—will I take on the role of a victim and do nothing, or will I take action and exercise my ability to respond?
You see, we totally have a choice. Not in what happens to us, but in how we use our ability to respond to what happens. In other words, we choose how responsible we want to be.
There are countless stories of humans in the most horrific of situations (Viktor Frankl, for example) who never forget their ability, or I would say power, to respond. No matter what life takes away from us, it will never take away our ability to respond.
Since the penny of understanding responsibility dropped, for me, life has been different. Now, when I’m faced with a challenge or an undesired situation, the first step I take is to remind myself that I am responsible for this.
I am responsible because this is the reality I have been served. Whether I asked for it or not, whether it was my fault or not, even whether I like it or not, this is my experience in this moment, and I feel powerful when I recognize my power to respond.
This Eckhart Tolle quote serves as a great reminder, as well: ”Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.”
Whatever happens to us between now and the rest of our lives, we are responsible.
Let’s never forget the huge power we hold in our ability to respond.
Author: Will Aylward
Editor: Emily Bartran
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren