Responsibility can seem overwhelming and therefore scary. That’s why people tend to avoid it. They fear that if they are responsible for someone or some situation, they will be blamed if there is a problem or a mistake, and no one likes to be judged.
What does responsibility mean to you?
It time to redefine responsibility and cut it down to size. It simply means, “Respond to your ability.”In other words, that which is within your ability is your responsibility.
Think about this for a moment. That which is within your ability does not mean that which other people might say ought to be within your ability. Or should be within your ability. Or must be within your ability. Or has to be within your ability.
How to become more responsible at your job
There’s a world of difference between that which actually is within your ability and that which others often insist is within your ability. There is also vast confusion among most people over which is which—that which is truly within a person’s true ability and that which is not.
Something that is within your ability is your responsibility. You witness a car accident, but you don’t have any first-aid training. You can and do use your cellphone to call 911, and try to support the less injured survivors by encouraging them to sit inside your car, out of a cold winter wind. But since rendering first aid is not within your ability, it is not your responsibility.
Be honest with yourself
It’s critical to be as honest as you can about what is within your ability and what is not. Do not allow others to claim that something is within your ability when it really is not. Only you can decide what is truly within your ability and what isn’t. Other people do not know you well enough to make that determination, all claims to the contrary.
For example, a factory is failing because management went into debt to upgrade equipment right before a recession cut demand for the product. As one of the employees, you are not responsible for policies and mistakes over which you have no control. You are responsible for doing the best work possible in your job, and maybe making suggestions for improvement.
Focus on what you can control
You cannot force management to listen or act on your suggestions, however. That is not within your ability and thus is false or misplaced responsibility. Another way of describing false or misplaced responsibility is responsibility without the authority or the power to affect the outcome.
False responsibility is a heavy and painful burden that can be summed up as: “Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.” How many times have you found yourself in such a situation of assuming false or misplaced responsibility? The world is full of people assuming false or misplaced responsibility, and people insisting that others assume it.This profound confusion over responsibility gets people into heartache and trouble, and yet it is reversible. It can change for the better.
Self-judgment and responsibility
Why on earth would anyone with half a brain assume false/misplaced responsibility that entails no-win dilemmas? The answer is simple but by no means easy: judgment against self.
Judgment against self is the least kind thing you can do to you, and everyone carries the baggage of judgment against self. That is precisely why most people fear being judged. They already know it does not feel good. It feels limiting and painful—the opposite of freedom and joy.
Most people have no idea they are living with the effects of judgment against self, because they are not consciously aware of it. On a mental level, few people would agree that they are guilty or unworthy or unlovable or angry or helpless or a million variations of the same self-judgments.
At the subconscious or emotional level, however, people feel those things about themselves. And they cannot merely think or analyze those feelings away because self-judgment is locked into the emotional body’s magnetic energy. To heal your emotions and free yourself of the limitations they impose on you, you release self-judgment from the emotional body. It is a process that involves feeling, not logic.
Once you start to free yourself of self-judgment, it becomes much easier to recognize what truly is within your ability and therefore your responsibility.
And once you realize that responsibility is about only what is truly within your ability and nothing more, it becomes much less of a burden or fearful, and simply something you assume because you already know that you can handle it.
Responsibility and the whole self
Most people limit their concept of responsibility to their behavior. They are responsible for what they do, in other words. Responsibility, or responding to your ability, however, applies to all of self, not just actions.
The whole self is more than body-mind, or even body-mind-spirit. The whole self is body, mind, spirit, and heart. The emotional part of self, so often overlooked or lumped in with mind, is the part of self that you live out of and is key to your well-being.
Within your ability, you are responsible not only for your actions, but for your thoughts, your beliefs, and your feelings. Again, be honest here. Are you blaming others for how you feel? For what you think? For what you believe?
If you blame others for your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, or actions, you disempower yourself and hand the ones you blame the power to determine who you are and the course of your life. Is that what you want? To be forever helpless or under someone else’s thumb because you have handed over what is actually your responsibility to others?
Becoming a more responsible person means assuming responsibility for your whole self: for your thoughts, your beliefs, your feelings and your actions. No one can make you do, think, believe, or feel a certain way. Your actions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings arise from the choices you make at all levels of your being, even if you are not consciously aware of those choices.
This brings up the issue of just who is responsible for your choices. In short, you are. That statement no doubt will send a good number of people shrieking and running for cover. Most people regard responsibility as a crown of thorns. But it can be a bed of roses instead provided you recall that it means, simply, to respond to your ability, and nothing more (or less).
According to this definition of responsibility, ultimately you assume responsibility only for all of yourself. That’s because self is the only area in which you do have any true ability, however limited that ability is by judgment against self.
Ownership and power
Again “assume responsibility” is not something scary. It means simply that you take ownership of your participation in an event, whatever it was. You take ownership of your participation in creating a belief that you hold, however you came to hold that belief. You take ownership in judging yourself and thus creating toxic emotions like guilt, worthlessness, shame, and more. Taking ownership of self means you are willing to recognize that you play the starring role in creating and attracting to you the experiences, events, and people in your life. It also shows you’re taking the steps to becoming a leader and not a follower.
What does responsibility for all of self not mean? It does not mean setting you up for judgment. Judgment is not only beside the point, it is harmful to self and to the world.
Again, most people cannot separate responsibility from judgment. That is why they are so terrified of responsibility for all of self and so unwilling to accept it. They fear that if they assume responsibility for their behavior, thoughts, feelings and beliefs, someone, somewhere, somehow and for some justification will slap their wrists or probably much worse. They might even be damned for it.
Become a more responsible person by taking ownership of your whole self and feel your power start returning to you!