What comes to mind when you hear the word responsibility? Is it positive or negative? Whatever our answer, we can recognize that our ideas about responsibility are nothing more than learned patterns of thought.
In other words…they’re habits. When it comes to living the life we want, how we habitually think about responsibility will either enhance or detract from our success.
If we view responsibility as an opportunity to exercise authority over our lives; to consciously mold our habits to support what we want, we will welcome it. If we view responsibility as a burdensome obligation, we will shy away from holding ourselves accountable.
If the latter is getting in the way of following through on the changes we want to make, here’s a fresh insight:
Responsibility can be interpreted as the ability to respond, as in response–able.
We are already responding all the time. It may be with acceptance or resistance, confidence or fear, action or inaction. Either way, we are responsive creatures who are naturally response-able.
Perhaps much of the negativity surrounding responsibility is that we believe our responses won’t be constructive. Or that they will make the situation worse. Or that we’ll be overwhelmed. So we’d rather not have anything to do with responsibility.
Rather than worry about if we are being responsible in the “right” way, we have another choice. We can choose to create awareness about our responses so we are empowered to make more appropriate choices.
This awareness is mindfulness. It’s the practice of paying attention on purpose in a non-judgmental and curious way. (Mindful.org is great resources for learning and practicing mindfulness)
When we allow ourselves to be mindful of our responses, it’s a great chance to applaud and reinforce what works.
At the same time, it’s an opportunity to get clear on which responses are in complete opposition to who we want to become and the life we want to lead.
Non-judgement is key. When we look with open awareness, we gain insight for better action. It moves us forward. On the other hand, looking with condemnation shuts us down. It stops us dead in our tracks and can even send us backwards.
Cultivating the habit of mindful awareness is a game changer for how we view responsibility. It gives us more freedom to accept our choices, actions and the ensuing results. With non-judgement, we conserve more of our mental and emotional energy that can be funneled into making better choices.
Since our brains are wired for efficiency, our habits shape our life experience. We need to be aware of these habits and make sure they are in alignment and support what we want.
So it turns out we are response-able. The bigger question may be, how do our responses impact our lives?
Whoopsie Wednesdays: Today’s 5 minute action item-Write down ways that you are habitually unaware of your responses. Think of knee-jerk reactions. How can mindful awareness help you change? (Check out the Ready page for more direction on how to redesign your habits)
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