01/11/2012 10:52 am ET Updated Mar 12, 2012

10 Essential Values for Living a Transformed Life, No. 1: Accepting Personal Responsibility

In my post last week, "2012: Ushering in the 100th Monkey," I identified 10 values essential for aligning one's consciousness with the principles of transformation. In that these values do not constitute an exhaustive list, I invited readers to include others and I've even thought of a few more of my own.

In the next few weeks, I'd like to examine each of these more closely so that as we navigate this year of 2012 we are orienting our consciousness and behavior in the direction of the paradigm shift that is the promise and the possibility of this time.

Keeping in mind an essential principle that governs human behavior -- consciousness aligns with itself -- there needs to be a critical mass, or a convergence of energy, thought and consciousness coalescing around a single idea or possibility in order for any kind of collective shift to occur.

Consider the Arab Spring or the Occupy movements that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Suddenly there were masses of people in the streets protesting, and their numbers mushroomed overnight. Suddenly an entire movement was born that swept the earth. In a heartbeat, it shaped and shifted the collective conversation about humanity's response to the crises, economic and political, that had choked off the freedoms we consider essential for living.

How did this movement take birth so quickly? Well, love it or hate it, we live in the Information Age, where through the use of social media, ideas are spread around the world in an instant. And because consciousness aligns with itself, when a critical mass of consciousness is aligned in any direction -- in this case, in the direction of going to the streets -- behavior follows.

Based on this principle, the job now is to create a critical mass of consciousness aligned with the principles of awakening and transformation in order to achieve such a shift. I believe the stage is now set for this to happen, though it will not have happened overnight. The stage has been under construction for over four decades, at least at the conscious level, and for millennia prior to that.

The stage is set, the costumes are ready, the props are in place, the cast has assembled, the audience is seated, the lights are down, cell phones are silenced, the orchestra is ready. The curtain is about to rise. What unfolds from here is the drama that together, we are about to co-create.

And so we come to the first principle of transformation to support the process:

Accepting personal responsibility

So much has already been written about this subject. Yet I continue to be amazed at how many people still think that responsibility = blame. This is exactly the cultural definition of the concept that we want to transform.

One might even be tempted to wonder if maligning responsibility this way is not another tactic to make people think that being responsible is a bad thing and to be avoided at all costs, thus perpetuating the victim consciousness that keeps people powerless. Well, let's blow up that idea right now.

A transformed definition of responsibility

Responsibility refers to a structure of interpretation by which I choose to stand 100 percent as the cause of what happens in my life -- no exceptions -- including my thoughts, feelings, actions, interpretations and resulting events.

Responsibility means authorship. It is to be aware of creating one's self, one's destiny, life predicaments and outcomes and, if such be the case, one's own suffering.

Responsibility is not the truth, like a fact. It is a context from which one chooses to live. It starts with the willingness to come from a point of view that you are the cause of your own actions, no one can make you do anything. You are the cause of what you have and what you are.

But you might wonder: Whychoose to be 100 percent responsible? What's the point? Why take on such a burden? Isn't that heaping a lot of weight on one's shoulders? Isn't it a set up for failure?

In a transformed understanding of responsibility we learn that it is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt. In responsibility, there is no evaluation of good or bad, right or wrong. There is simply what happens and the willingness to hold yourself accountable for how you respond.

Accepting personal responsibility is to claim yourself as the uncontested author of your life. Even though much of what happens in life is beyond our ability to control, what we do have is the ability to choose how we'll respond to what happens. So if you want to have a say about who you are and what your life is for, responsibility is a requirement. It is the foundational principle of transformation. Without it, all the rest are null and void.

Why choose to be 100 percent responsible? Because it is the key to accessing your personal power, freedom, creativity, aliveness and passion, for starters.

You can't be kind of, or somewhat responsible. You either are or you're not. No one else can make you be responsible, nor can you impose it on another. Responsibility is a gift you can only give to yourself, like a blessing.

All of us have had things happen to us in ways that had us feel, either for a moment or perhaps for a lifetime, that we were a victim in that circumstance. Life isn't always fair. Victim events happen. Airplanes crash, earthquakes happen, people rob, steal, cheat and take advantage. No one gets through life without many moments of feeling like what just happened shouldn't have happened. Feeling like what just happened wasn't your fault, you didn't deserve it, you weren't to blame.

We all have stories and battle scars from the victim wars we've waged, and we've gathered a lot of evidence to be right about our stories. We enlist our friends in giving sympathy or extra attention because of what happened to us. We use our victim stories as excuses for (fill in the blank... not getting on with life, not taking risks, not being in a relationship, not trusting, not loving ourselves, etc.

At the factual level, all that may be true. But in between what happens to us and the stories we tell ourselves about it there is a tiny gap. Maybe it's only a millisecond. In that gap lies the possibility that we can consciously choose our response. And in that choice lies all the power and freedom human beings could possibly want.

Just ask Nelson Mandela or Viktor Frankl, both of whom suffered years of imprisonment and physical and psychological abuse at the hands of cruel regimes. Frankl was in a Nazi concentration camp during WWII, Mandela imprisoned for 26 years during the apartheid regime of South Africa. Yet upon release, each spoke about how the power of choice helped them not only survive what had happened, but emerge from their experience, not angry and embittered or victimized, but empowered to make a difference by helping others to see within themselves the source of their own true power.

The responsibility to create a world that embodies the principles of transformation is ours. If we accept that responsibility as a gift and a blessing instead of a burden, we can be empowered to move freely in the direction of the promise of this time. It is choice we make for ourselves to live in this way, or not. The mantle is there to be picked up. The choice to do so or not lies within each of us.

The time of the 100th monkey is upon us, if we say so. I invite you to declare for yourself what this year is for you and for the world. For if the Great Awakening is to occur, it will be a team sport. And it begins with taking responsibility for inviting yourself to be on the team. Are you in?

Many thanks for being here. Blessings on the path.

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