The “R” Word


There.  I said it.

Responsibility is the thing that most of us hide our Good behind.  And that’s a shame, because responsibility can be such a blessing.  Responsibility can make us feel like what we do is important, needed, and appreciated.  Unfortunately, it can also make us feel burdened, unnoticed, and automated.

There are two types of responsibility.  There are responsibilities we have to others and there are responsibilities we have to ourselves.

Responsibility to Others

Unless you’re a hermit, you feel responsible to others.  It is inevitable in our society.  At some point, we will feel we have a responsibility to our family, friends, coworkers, customers, or some other group to which we belong or serve.

The question is, what are we responsible for when it comes to others?  We should not feel responsible for making other people into something they are not.  So, for example, we should not feel responsible for making someone else happy.  Nor should we feel responsible for making someone feel safe, loved, secure or any other of a hundred other things.

Don’t fly off the handle yet.

We should not feel responsible for these things because they are outside our control.  What is in our control, and what we must feel responsible for, is creating an environment that is conducive to those feelings.  So while we are not responsible for making someone happy, we are responsible for creating an environment where that other person can feel happy.  We are responsible for creating a loving environment.  We are responsible for creating a safe environment.  And that environment may well look different depending on who we are trying to create the environment for.  A safe and loving environment for a newborn is very different from a safe and loving environment for one’s spouse.  The needs are different.

What to do when the environment he or she creates is not up to the task it was created for is up to the individual.  Imagine an environment at work where your employees can thrive but they are instead leaving in droves.  What is the creator of the environment to do?  Hopefully, realize that the environment they created isn’t working and change something.  How about when the supportive environment one has created for their spouse isn’t working?  Again, change something.  But what happens when we’ve changed everything we can?  That’s where the rub comes in.  Since so many of us feel that we are responsible for the person being something they are not, we sacrifice our Good in the hopes that we can change that person.

The bottom line is that we are not responsible for how others choose to live their lives.   We are, however, responsible for creating positive environments for those individuals in our lives that you care about.

Responsibility to Ourselves

This is the underrated and misunderstood part of responsibility.  No scientific proof here, but I believe that most people do not feel like they have any responsibility to themselves.  This is because we have outsourced it.

What do I mean by outsourcing our responsibility?  I mean that we’ve given the control of our destiny to others.  We feel that our destiny is controlled by our boss, coworkers, spouse, lawyer, family, or anyone else – outside of ourselves. It’s easier that way, because when we don’t get what we want we can blame it on someone else.

No one else is responsible for our destiny, our happiness, our greatest good.   Just like we’re not responsible for anyone else’s destiny, happiness, or greatest good.  Yes, it would be nice if others could create the environment that is most conducive to us taking responsibility for ourselves, and some day I pray that everyone will understand this.  But in the interim, we may have to take it on directly.

I’m here to tell you – suck it up.

We also outsource our responsibility to our environment.  It’s very easy to blame all the things we don’t have on our circumstances.  Have you ever told yourself you couldn’t do something because of your mortgage payments?  Couldn’t change something because your financial situation would be negatively impacted?  What about our feelings of responsibility to others?  Have you ever not taken action on something because you were afraid of letting down someone else?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t consider others, but if the others we are thinking about are important to us then there is a better than average chance that we are important to them too.  Can you really picture going to one of these people, say your spouse, and sharing your biggest hope or dream with them – and having them say that you shouldn’t pursue it?  I can’t.  Wife supports me in ways that I can’t even begin to describe – she is behind me 110%.  If you’ve created an environment that is supposed to be supportive but the person tells you any form of “no”, I strongly suggest you reconsider the environment you’ve created.  Or the person, assuming you’ve really tried your hardest to create the environment.

So once again – suck it up.

Our true responsibility to ourselves focuses on one thing, and one thing only.

Each of us has a calling; a passion which gnaws at the edges of our consciousness and constantly asks us “what if”.  It’s the idea that we wake up thinking about, the idea that we find on our mind while we’re relaxing over a cup of coffee, the idea that gets our hearts racing when we consider it.  Our responsibility is to pursue that calling.  It is our responsibility because we are the ONLY ones who can deliver on it.  Our calling is unique to us as individuals and therefore no one can answer it for us.

Many of us know what that calling is; many more do not.  When trying to “remember our Good”, that calling will come back to us.  I intend to share how to do that later in our journey.

“There’s so much more you’re made to be.  Scream it from the top of your lungs, you have a Calling.”

– Cloud Cult, “The Calling” from “Love”

Your only responsibility to yourself is to relentlessly pursue this calling.

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