Few would say that personal transformation is easy. Or as our friend Lew Epstein put it -- "It's simple, but not easy." "Simple" because the information about how to transform is available from many sources, such as your spiritual path, articles, books, teachers, coaches, the Internet -- but top of the list is your inner wisdom.
"Not easy" because it takes being mindful about the small everyday things, letting go, and shifting our beliefs. The way through is personal responsibility.
Doing so is most difficult when we're right -- I mean really, really right. The evidence is right there before our eyes. It's obvious.
We're absolutely right about the fact it's the other person's fault, the company we work for isn't doing what they promised, or our own spiritual path is the best -- right on down to the little stuff like the best way to drive to the store, the fact our spouse doesn't accurately remember what happened, and our political views. No doubt about it, right?
One of the most challenging things for me is to let go when I am right -- even when I know it's far more responsible and rewarding to do so, and even though I've learned that it's not worth the price when it's at the expense of someone else's feelings. Yet every time I just let it go, I achieve another personal transformation. And to be clear, I don't mean just keeping my mouth shut even though I'm still 100 percent right. I have to let it go completely -- thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and all. Poof!
Simply said, follow the advice of Anthony Robbins:
"Whatever happens, take responsibility."
The Cost of Not Taking Responsibility
Here are some examples of personal irresponsibility. Have you see the cost of:
- Grown up kids still blaming their parents for their problems?
- A team member who gossips and points out the faults of others?
- Blaming our genes, our medication, our lifestyle, or our work for the fact that we can't lose weight?
- Calling ourselves the victim of mental abuse, when our own rapid response is just as painful?
In what ways are you paying the price for not taking responsibility?
Top of my list at the moment are 1) breaking my workaholic addiction -- even though I have way less on my plate these days, and 2) losing the 10 pounds I gained last year. I can see the problems, but I'm not being responsible about solving them, even though doing so would be hugely transformational for me.
Payoffs for Taking Responsibility
One thing I know for sure: The more responsible I am, the more people and things around me transform. The process is automatic and natural -- and it begins with me. Here are several examples:
- Taking complete responsibility for our finances has led to our being millionaires -- and is enabling us to give generously to others.
- Sticking with the Best Year Yet business, no matter what, has created the possibility of generating transformation for many, many more people.
- Giving up being right with Tim (including my righteous and judgmental thoughts about him) has brought a new level of happiness, partnership, and love.
How has taking personal responsibility transformed your life?
Recently my brother didn't feel at all well, so bad for example that he couldn't play golf. As a heart attack survivor, he decided to get an EKG. The doctor reported that he was just fine, no worries. But he still didn't feel well so he kept checking until he discovered a week ago that one of the main arteries in his heart was 70 percent blocked and another main artery was 99 percent blocked!
Several days later he underwent bypass surgery and is now recovering remarkably well. We're all so grateful that he took personal responsibility for his health because if he hadn't, he might not be here today.
Steps to Taking Responsibility
Answer these questions as accurately as you can:
- In which areas of my life am I not being responsible?
- In which of these areas am I going to begin taking responsibility?
- What outcome do I want as a result?
- What step am I going to take today?
Several months ago I was watching a 60 Minutes report on homeless kids in Florida. It was there I discovered a 15-year-old homeless teen by the name of Ariel Metzger -- an inspirational poster child for personal responsibility if ever there was one. She's interviewed twice in this very short segment, near the beginning and at the end. Ariel talks about personal responsibility with clarity and wisdom in such a powerful, yet simple, way.
Thanks again to those of you who have written to join in this journey of personal transformation. Here are a few of your responses to last week's question: "What am I doing to invest in myself?"
- "One of the ways I am investing in myself is doing vision education to improve my eyesight. In order to do this, I have to be much more relaxed -- eyesight weakens with strain, so I am learning to be more focused -- taking one thing at a time."
- "I love getting requests for an article, but soon the request transforms into doubt that I have anything worthwhile to say. What to do? I have decided that the best thing to do is to stop thinking and start writing. I discover again the pleasure of moving from thinking in order to write, to writing in order to think."
- "I don't think I have too much wrong with me. Not enough money maybe, but that is all. I like myself -- more and more each month lately."
The next article in this series is called "Personal Transformation: Anything is Possible."
As a partner on this journey, please share your answer to this question: How has taking personal responsibility transformed my life?
Write your response below this article on The Huffington Post. Or I'd love to hear from you directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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