Taking Responsibility

2013-06-14_2335Most of my writing addresses the truth that children have no control over the negative events that happen to them and the resulting negative self-beliefs that are formed from those events. When a child is overly criticized, rejected, ignored or abused, he holds no responsibility for that event. Most of the time, however, he concludes that he is somehow to blame. He may conclude that he is inadequate, unimportant or defective. That conclusion is inaccurate and can be tremendously self-destructive. The child assumes responsibility, but in reality, is totally innocent.

However, negative childhood events do not remove our responsibility for our later choices or actions. A bad childhood doesn’t give us permission to be hurtful or inappropriate. Even the child who has been abused has to have boundaries, limits and consequences. She has to learn to behave appropriately, despite the fact that she has been hurt. To do less would be unloving.

Sometimes, compassion is confused with compromise. We may feel compassion for the person who had a bad childhood, and mistakenly compromise our expectations and withhold the natural and appropriate consequences for bad behaviors. The danger here is that we may unwittingly teach them to be irresponsible. This actually sets them up for future painful events.

Sometimes people will try to excuse their inappropriate or hurtful behaviors on the fact that they had a “bad childhood.” Most of the time, however, the person who experienced childhood rejection, harsh criticism or abuse puts too much responsibility on herself. She feels responsible for every negative outcome. In a sense, these people become blame magnets.

The key here is to objectively determine whether you have responsibility or not. Would you assign responsibility to someone else, who was in your shoes? If a friend experienced the exact same situation and exhibited the same behavior and created the same outcome, would you place blame on them? Think about your assumptions about responsibility and learn to treat yourself as you would treat anyone else in your situation.

Question: Do you feel that most people tend to take on undeserved responsibility for negative events, or that most avoid responsibility when they rightfully should take it?

You’ll Never Guess What I Did Today!!

ImageToday has been a truly magnificent day! This day has been filled with a long-awaited and long overdue activity. The day was exactly what I needed. The day filled my spirit and nourished my soul.

Today, I did nothing!

I didn’t vegetate in front of a TV (not my thing). I didn’t sleep (naps make me feel groggy). I didn’t travel, entertain, educate myself, exercise or explore. I had plenty to do, of course, but I chose to do none of it. It could wait. It did wait, and the world didn’t alter its rotation at all, as far as I could tell.

I did sit and look at the beautiful view from my house. Actually, I gazed, which is much better than looking. I did have brief, pleasant conversations with family, but even these were not intended to be productive or purposeful. I listened to some quiet music, more as background for the gazing than anything. I did a little reading, punctuated by more gazing.

I don’t have days like this very often. I don’t try to have days like this very often. I have too many things that I like to do, too many interests, too many projects to have many do-nothing days. My usual wish is that I could pack 48 hours in every 24 hour day. I usually enjoy activity.

But, sometimes I need a time to do nothing. We all do. We need a time to slow down, contemplate, and perhaps, to gaze. Time moves more slowly. We experience the moment, then the next moment. We recharge, perhaps we recalibrate our internal motors.

The demands of life often postpone such times. We (at least me) tend to squeeze the most we can get out of every minute. It’s usually an okay choice, but, not today. Today I did nothing, and it felt good.   

If you’re like me and most of your days are filled to the brim, you might like to schedule an appointment to do nothing. It won’t happen by itself. You’ll have to make it happen. Who knows? It might also be good for your soul!

Question: What is your favorite way to spend a “do-nothing” day? What benefits do you see when you slow your life down?