What if I were to tell you that taking responsibility has nothing to do with shaming or guilt tripping? What would you answer to that?
If you are like the old me, you might answer something like, “That’s horse sh$%! Of course taking responsibility comes with shame and guilt! How else do you expect anyone to become responsible if they do not feel the wrath?”
But is it true?
Just so we are on the same page here, I believe that taking responsibility means to:
1. Acknowledge the choices we have made and
2. Accept the results we currently have.
The choices we have made include:
A. The words we spoke
B. The actions we took
C. The words we refused to speak and
D. The actions we refused to take
The results we currently have include:
A. What we currently perceive as good, bad, or ugly in our life.
When my children were little, like any good parent I guess, I wanted to teach them about taking responsibility.
Case in point…
As my young son kept leaving his socks scattered all over the house, I yelled at him and gave him the cold shoulder. One day, I lost my sh$% and put all his clean and dirty socks into one big bag that I hid inside my bedroom closet. With zero socks to wear the next day, that ought to teach him, right?
How many of you have ever experienced yelling, been given the cold shoulder, or had privileges taken away as a way to teach you responsibility?
Now let’s assume for a moment that we all agree on the definition of taking responsibility: To acknowledge the choices we have made and accept the results we currently have. Let’s look at the sock tragedy. Did my son acknowledge the bad choice he made by leaving his socks scattered all over? No, he did not. But why not?
To acknowledge a perceived ‘bad’ behaviour, one has to first be aware inside themselves that something might need to change. If this is true, then either my son was unaware of his sock behaviour (clearly not the case based on my yelling alone) or his sock behaviour suited him just fine. Therefore, in his view, there might have been nothing needing change inside of him, hence the lack of acknowledgement.
Did my son accept the results he currently had (that all of his socks were hidden in my closet)? No, he did not have to. Why not?
To accept a result, one has to first acknowledge they have played a role in said result.
Let me remind you here…
Who yelled? Me.
Who gave the cold shoulder? Me.
Who hid the socks? Me.
Soooo, if I did not teach my son how to take responsibility, what exactly did I teach him?
1. Tuning out. From me, he has learned how to disconnect, ignore, dismiss. Sounds harsh? How many of you tune out when someone is yelling at you?
2. Becoming invisible. From me, he has learned to sooth and please in order to appease irregardless of his feelings and emotions. Sounds terrible? How many of you walk on eggs when given the cold shoulder?
3. Dismissing own needs. From me, he has learned to forego his own needs, tell himself he does not care for much. (I took all his socks!!) Sounds horrifying? How many of you have ever felt less than after you lost a privilege?
In light of what I have just shared with you, how can anyone take responsibility when they are tuning out, becoming invisible, and dismissing their own needs? Where is the integrity? The love of self? The self-worth?
I believe the integrity, self-love, and self-worth are being stripped away with yelling, cold shoulder, and privileges removal. I have personally found out that to take responsibility, one needs integrity. To take responsibility, one needs self-love. To take responsibility, one needs self-worth.
So, how do we take responsibility?
We take responsibility by becoming self-aware of who we are and what we need while at the same time aligning our self to what we say, think and do. Only then can we develop the integrity to acknowledge and accept all the choices we have made.
My name is Anne Beaulieu and I am an Emotional Intelligence Coach who assists her clients in taking full responsibility for the choices they have made in their life. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With love & compassion,
About the Author: Anne BEAULIEU is one of Your Monthly Mentors, an international speaker, empowering coach, and thought leader in the field of Emotional Intelligence and the Founder of Walking Inside Resources Inc. based in Vancouver, British Columbia. As an accomplished author and community builder, Anne is a powerful catalyst for positive change and embodies successful life strategies that keep empowering men and women across the globe. Read More…