For my first ever #SallysQuote I want to discuss a quote I have about responsibility. WAIT, don’t switch off, I know the word “responsibility” is not sexy. We usually hear about responsibility from somebody who is trying to get us to do what they want us to do; a teacher, parent, or the authorities. I want to tell you there is a way to look at it that feels empowering, liberating and gets you back in control.
“living responsibly is knowing what we are and are not responsible for. We need to know what is and is not subject to our volitional choice—what is and is not within our power—what is up to us and what isn’t. Without this understanding, we cannot practice intelligent self-responsibility, and we cannot protect ourselves against others’ inappropriate demands—or the inappropriate demands we place upon ourselves.”~ Nathaniel Branden
We definitely want to protect ourselves from others’ inappropriate demands and the inappropriate demands we have of ourselves so how do we know what we are and are not responsible for?
I am going to use my friend as an example: I have a “hippy” friend who has gone the “natural” route. She has stopped cutting her hair, stopped washing her hair and has stopped shaving her armpits. My friend has turned into Chewbacca. It’s not a good look!
Byron Katie’s work is founded on the principle of staying in your own business and this is what I try live by. The basic principle is that there are three kinds of business: The Universe’s business; My business; Your business. The only business we are responsible for is our own and if we poke our noses into any other business, this is where things will go wrong.
Focusing on any business other than our own will only cause us stress and bring us out of balance – not to mention the problems it might cause in our relationships.
The Universe is in charge of:
The weather; natural disasters; climate change… and so on.
Worrying about the Universe’s business, or trying to take care of the Universe’s business is way out of our depth. It will only cause us pain.
Going back to the example of my friend, I could focus on her hair and wish it would stop growing, but clearly this is not something that’s within my control. Wishing her hair would stop growing will just stress me out.
You are in charge of:
What you are doing and what you are thinking (even if that is about me or to me)
My friend is in charge of her own body; it’s up to her what she does with it. What anyone else thinks or feels about her appearance is really not her concern.
I am in charge of:
How I feel, talk and act.
I am in charge of how I behave and act around my friend – but also how I think and feel about her.
I could focus on how embarrassing it is to be seen with my friend; how I believe her hair needs to be tidied up; how she looks untidy and unclean – but that’s her business, and not mine.
I have several options in this scenario, and this is where I have the control. I can choose to tell my friend how I feel; I can decide privately to just avoid being seen out with her; I can choose to no longer be friends with her… Or I can just accept that how she wears her hair is her choice, and focus on the fact that she is a supportive, caring friend to me.
Ultimately, if my friend likes her hair as it is, the only “resposibility” I have is to manage my own feelings about that. The more I tell myself that the situation should be different than it is, the more stress I am going to have. If I can accept what is and stay in my own business, I have the chance for peace.
My responsibility is: MY hair; MY opinion of my friend’s hair; MY decision about whether to tell her MY feelings about her hair; what I want to tell MYself about her hair, and whether I want to change what I am telling MYself; MY decision as to whether I want to continue being friends with her.
You can apply this to any and every situation in your life.
My book is called It’s All About Me because that is the strongest message I have. Even if we think it’s about somebody else, ultimately it’s about us because within ourselves is the point at which we have control. Our business is our “responsibility” and that is where our power lies. When you stay in your business it is empowering; you have complete control, and taking responsibility feels good.
Taking responsibility for ourselves
The word responsibility can be broken down:
In other words, our ability to respond to something.
If we stay in our own business our attention will be focused and more effective.
As Byron Katie says:
“If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is living mine?”
So focus on your life, and choose your response to what comes up. That is your responsibility – your only responsibility.