Episode 28: Take Responsibility
Welcome back to another week! Do you ever have one of those weeks where it was just Thursday like yesterday? Like the week went by skipping over 5-6 days and you’re already at the next week and you’re confused a little bit, like, “What just happened?!” Yeah, that’s me this week. I’m pretty serious about my planner and scheduling and documenting my time so I do have physical proof that I did indeed live and take action this past week but it just flew by so quickly!
My son entered teenage-hood this week and so we were busy with that and there was a lot planned for each day which can go either the ridiculously slow route or the blink once and it’s gone route. This week it was the blink once and it’s gone route. It’s good though. Life is good, even when it feels like it isn’t and today I’m going to tell you why.
Today we’re talking about one of my favorite topics – Taking responsibility. This is an interesting topic because when I introduce this to my clients it’s not usually their favorite at first. In fact, I get a lot of pushback with it. I can remember when I first learned about it too and I wasn’t an automatic fan but it really IS the BEST thing you can do for yourself. Taking responsibility for your life, for you emotions, for your actions, AND the results you experience in your life.
So you might have to listen to this a few times to let the concept sink in or schedule a mini session with me and I can walk you through it as well.
When potential clients come to me they’re ready to tell me what’s happening in their lives. They tell me what they want to change, what they don’t like about their lives, what their story is. When I start asking them questions, like WHY? Why are things the way they are? Why did you feel that way? Why are you creating that result? They look at me like, What? Didn’t you just hear what I said? Then they go back through their story on this time with more emphasis on who’s to blame for their circumstances.
They blame their parents. They blame the government. They blame their childhood, their family, their friends, the bully that was tormenting them in the second grade. They blame their body, their illness, their lot in life.
Blaming feels easy. Blaming feels temporarily good. It takes the weight and pressure off of you. It gives you a villain to be mad at so that you can stay in your story and be a victim. So that you can stay in your role as, poor me, doesn’t think stink?
And while your friends will agree with you and think, yeah! That’s terrible! They shouldn’t have done that! You were right all along! I’ll never do that. As your coach, I’ll never say those words.
See, when you’re blaming. When you’re delegating your emotional to someone else, usually the worst person to delegate to as well you’re in emotional childhood. Emotional childhood is blaming.
What I teach, what I live by, what I offer to you today is a gift for yourself. It’s one of the BEST gift to give yourself. This is the concept of emotional adulthood. This is when you take responsibility for your emotions. For your thoughts, feelings, actions, AND all the results in your life. I’m going to go though this more throughly because I can already imagine your thoughts giving some pushback here – but I can’t help it if I have a physical ailment. How is that my fault that my body is this way? Of that I have a verbally abusive family? Or that THEY did this to me?
Don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through all of it.
Emotional childhood is when we blame. It’s when we don’t take responsibility It’s when we delegate that to others. It’s the thinking that, “If they hadn’t done that, then I’d feel…” or “It’s their fault that I…” But the problem with this is that you’re stuck. You need them to change in someway for you to feel better. When my kids come to me and tattle about someone coming in their rooms unannounced and without permission they’re expecting me to solve the problem. They want the perpetrator to get in trouble so they can feel better. They want them to change so they can feel better. But what if THEY don’t want to change? What if it’s not a big deal to them? You’re going to be waiting and waiting and waiting for a long time, forever maybe for you to feel how you want to feel.
That’s a terrible way to go about things. You don’t have to wait for them to change so you can feel better. You can feel better now. Right now, if you wanted to. By taking responsibility for how you feel and responsibility for creating that feeling it puts you back in the driver’s seat. It gives you back all your power.
When my clients come to me and tell me their story they want me to agree with them. They want me to jump in the pool with them and say, “yeah! That’s awful! They shouldn’t have done that!” But…let me ask you this…what good will that do? Me validating you doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the fact that you still feel powerless. That you feel terrible. That you need them to change for you to feel better.
Ever had that happen? When you call up a friend and vent to them and they totally agree with you and for a time you feel momentarily better because someone understands you but then afterwards you still feel awful because nothing really changed. You’re still stuck in that space where a wrong has been done to you and they’re not changing.
My job as a coach is to help you take responsibility for how you feel in the first place. It’s to teach you that THEY cannot hurt you. THEY cannot offend you. THEY cannot anything to your feelings without your permission and even then, it’s not THEM doing it, it’s you, it’s your thoughts. Your thoughts are creating the discord. Your thoughts are creating the scenario that something is wrong. Your thoughts create the result in your life that something needs to be fixed, THEY need to fix it.
Most of us don’t like to take emotional responsibility though. It seems easier to just blame. It feels better to whine about it, to vent, to complain, to rally up a bunch of people on your side and all say, yeah! That’s terrible – but…it’s not easier in the long run because you’re left feeling awful still and in your mind there’s no way out unless they change and since we have no control over them, we cannot change or control other people and what they choose to do we’re stuck and that feels scary sometimes.
When you take responsibility and become aware of the thoughts creating your results, you realize that you have all the power to change how you feel. They can keep doing what they need to be doing and you can feel how you want to feel.
One of the biggest problems that we have though is this belief that others hurt us. Others hurt our feelings and that we can hurt them. We’re taught this as children. I still hear it often just being out and about. This belief is wrong. We are agents to ACT and NOT be ACTED UPON. They cannot hurt you. YOU hurt YOU by the thoughts you choose to believe.
Let me say that again, YOU hurt YOU by the thoughts you choose to believe. I had a client once that was deeply hurt by her family and some words and actions that had been shared over the years. She was angry at them and felt sad and rejected by them. She believed it was their actions, their words that hurt her. Every time she’d think about them the hurt would rise up again in her and she’d feel sad, rejected, and mad again. She blamed them for her hurt feelings. She blamed them for how she felt. She thought THEY should change. She believed that what they did was WRONG and THEY needed to remedy it. THEY needed to apologize. THEY need to change.
She didn’t like when I showed her it was NOT them that hurt her but the thoughts she had about them. It was what she made their words and actions mean that hurt her. It was how she interpreted the circumstances that created those feelings in her NOT them. Now, I’m not saying we should all be happy all the time and just think happy thoughts and be happy. There have been times that my family have said things to me that I choose not to be happy about. I choose to feel hurt. I choose to feel upset about it but the difference here is that I’m aware that I’m creating my hurt feelings not them, ME.
This is great news because if I created it, I can uncreate it when I’m ready. Taking responsibility doesn’t mean you have to plaster on a grin and bear it. It means that you recognize that YOU are creating how you feel and that you’re owning that it’s your thoughts that are generating that feeling.
I had a friend once that rarely or seemed like never said thank you or appreciated the efforts and kindness of others. It wasn’t just me but it really bothered me. It bothered me because I thought she should notice. She should care. She should value the time I sacrificed to go out of my way for her. I had thoughts like, “Even strangers say thank you for much less”. I was baffled, confused, in disbelief at first and the more I focused my attention on these thoughts, that she shouldn’t do that I started feeling more irritated and frustrated with her, offended even.
It wasn’t her or her actions or inactions. It was my thoughts that she SHOULD or SHOULDN’T do things that created those hurt feelings, those frustrated feelings, those offended feelings. I hurt my own feelings because of the thoughts I chose to believe. I took full responsibility for my emotions.
Other people might not need that thank you. They might not care even. To them, her actions wouldn’t mean much but to me, it was like, “hu uh…no, not okay.” –
I made myself feel that way. I didn’t want to be happy that she never said thank you. I wanted to believe that she didn’t value me. It’s okay to think and believe what you want to but own it. Own that you’re creating that for yourself.
I will say that I don’t like feeling that way because I don’t like what I do when I feel that way. Our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings motivate us into action or in some cases, inaction. When I felt hurt or offended what did I do? I chose to not be around her. I chose to distance myself. I chose to not pick up when she called. I chose to not call her. And the next question you have to ask yourself is, do I like how I’m showing up here?
In some cases I have clients that want a stronger relationship with their spouse. That’s what they truly want but then their spouse does something and they get so hurt and so offended and mad even at them because they shouldn’t have done that! They blame them for their anger. “If you hadn’t….I wouldn’t be yelling!” This is what emotional childhood is. It’s blaming. It’s the opposite of taking responsibility. It looks like yelling, like throwing temper tantrums, like throwing things or kicking the walls, like slamming doors, and silent treatments. Emotional responsibility is recognizing that you are in charge of your own feelings and actions. When you’re mad, own that YOU are making yourself mad. Do you like how you’re showing up? They can’t make you show up in a certain way. They can’t MAKE you mad.
But when you believe they do, you give them all your power. You’re helpless then and at the mercy of them and hoping they’ll change so you can feel better. Stop doing this, please stop doing this. Thinking and feeling and acting this way is so disempowering. It leaves you stuck and that’s a terrible place to be. When you take responsibility that “Yes, I’m mad. I’m choosing to be mad because I think things should be different. I own that it’s MY expectations of this circumstance of this person that is creating this for me. I’m creating this for me.” When you operate from this stance you still hold all the power, you have all the control. They can say, do, feel, react however they want to. They’re human endowed with agency just like you and I – and they have no power over your emotions.
Only YOU get to decide how you’ll feel. When my clients want that stronger relationship with their spouse but they believe that they’re making them mad and that’s making them yell all the time they’re the furthest away from having and creating that strong relationship. It’s when you own that it’s NOT them that’s creating that in you but YOU and your expectations, your manual, then you get to decide what you’ll make their actions mean.
When you realize that you really, truly hold all the power you can create amazing things. You can create amazing relationships. You can create a warm and generous world or you can choose to think that things are wrong. You can choose to think that things should be different and you’ll create resistance. You’ll create the agitation and discomfort.
It’s up to you. But the first step is realizing that you have to take responsibility. You have to recognize your role in what you’re creating. Seriously, I want you to think about your life right now. Are there areas you’re not happy with? What about today? How do you feel today, right now? Do you like what results you have right now? Your bank account, your friends, your connections, your health, your weight?
Do you like where you’re at right now?
If not, why not? How are YOU responsible for your results?
A lot of people tend to go straight to blame. Well, it’s NOT my fault. I have a low paying job. I have bills! It’s not my fault we have a bad relationship. I try but THEY don’t care. It’s THEIR fault we can’t connect. I have health issues. I CAN’T lose weight. In all these cases thinking this way puts you in the victim role. You’re a victim to your job. You’re a victim to the people in your life. You’re a victim to your body even. When you’re a victim, you’re stuck. There’s no changing until THEY, IT changes. How is thinking this way helping you? How is thinking this way, blaming like this serving you?
It’s easier to pass the buck, to blame but only temporarily because you’re still not satisfied. You’re expending a lot of time and energy thinking about it, focusing on what you can’t change and the results you create – because yes, you do create them – feel heavy and leave you wanting.
When you take responsibility though, it opens the doors to hope. When you become focused on what you can change instead of what you can’t there’s light, there’s room for change, there’s movement. You’re no longer stuck. Sure, it’s challenging. Yes, it’s going to be hard. But what’s harder? Believing you’re stuck indefinitely? Or working through it and making change. Progress is progress even if it’s just an inch, even if it’s just a millimeter – there’s forward movement.
What does Elder Bednar say?
“If today you are a little bit better than you were yesterday, then that’s enough. And, if tomorrow you are a little bit better than you were today, then that’s enough.”
But you have to take responsibility. Own it. Once you own it, it’s yours. The way you look at it, the way it feels, how much control you allow it to have over you or how much control you want to have over it. It’s yours. You get to decide. But you can’t change it, alter it, do anything until you take responsibility.
You are in charge of your own happiness.
William Arthur Ward said, “Happiness in an inside job” and it’s so true. Other people don’t make us happy. You make yourself happy by the thoughts you choose to think about them. It goes both ways, just like saying they can’t make you mad, they also don’t make you happy. Believing they do is dangerous. Believing this motivates us to seek outside validation. To manipulate, to be someone other that we are because we’re trying to get their attention, we’re trying to seek their approval because if we get it, then we’ll be happy. And that’s again not taking responsibility for YOUR emotions.
Years ago I had this very sweet sister come over one afternoon unannounced to bring me a bouquet of bright cheerful yellow daffodils which are one of my favorite, favorite flowers. I think they’re just so happy and I love them. I was having a bit of a down day. So when she came by and brought a bouquet of beauty I felt so happy. I felt so grateful. I felt so much love for this sweet sister. I still do. But even at times like these I have to take responsibility for my emotions. If believed SHE made me happy then I’d be expecting others to bring me things, to do things for me so I can be happy. This is a problem because I’m waiting on others to make me happy and what if they don’t? What if no one comes by? What if no one offers me praise? What if no one brings me anything? What then? I’m helpless.
But if I can take responsibility even then, even in that moment that I’m creating the feelings of happy by my thoughts about her then I realize I have the power to think those thoughts again in the future and I can create happy all over again. I felt happy and grateful and loved because I thought things like, “Oh, that was so nice that she’d come out of her way to see me. She must care about me.”, “Those flowers are so pretty, I love yellow”, “She is such a sweetheart. I love her.” Notice my thoughts about her. I created all those thoughts about her. I created my reality. I created how I felt about her.
This works both ways. You make yourself happy by the thoughts you choose to think and believe. You hurt your own feelings by the thoughts you choose to think and believe. You make yourself mad by the thoughts you choose to think and believe. You are the key factor. YOU.
This concept is so powerful and freeing. It releases the hold other’s have or the world has on you. You can be in any circumstance and not HAVE to feel a certain way. You can be around anyone and not automatically feel a certain way. You can have callings with people and not have to feel frustrated or upset. You can feel however you want to feel each and every minute of your life by taking responsibility of your emotions.
Doesn’t that feel so much better than blaming? When you blame others or circumstances, you’re powerless. When you realize and become aware that it’s your thoughts that create how you feel it offers you a huge gift. Freedom IF you want it.
Taking responsibility, being an emotional adult, is learning that I am responsible for my happiness. I’m also responsible for my unhappiness. I’m responsible for my actions. I’m responsible for my results. This goes hand in hand with the concept of wanting vs needing. This was talked about in episode 15 – Taking responsibility doesn’t mean that we’re just indifferent. It doesn’t mean we don’t WANT things or for people to treat us different or do things differently. It means that whether they do or don’t you’re going to be okay. You’re going to feel however you want to.
When I show up NEEDING things from them so I can feel better I’m operating from emotional childhood. This is, “You need to do this for me so I can feel better.” And if they don’t then you BLAME them because it’s their fault you’re feeling the way you are. But Taking responsibility looks like, “You can do whatever you choose to do because you have agency to do so. I’m going to do what I feel is best because I have agency to do so. I’m going to think, feel, and do what I need to do to take care of me because I’m in charge of my happiness, not you.”
It’s so freeing. It helps so much in our friendships, in our marriages, in our homes. Showing up knowing you’re going to be okay no matter what is liberating and powerful. It eliminates the perceived need to manipulate. It eliminates extra weight, pressure, and expectations for you to be different than you are. It’s also inviting. You’re more open to possibilities.
Think about just how often you hand over your power to others. When someone doesn’t call or text you back right away and you think, “They don’t care about me or they’d be responding faster.” You’ve given them your power. You need THEM to change to call or respond faster so YOU can feel secure, loved, appreciated.
Or when you invite someone to do something and they say no or cancel on you and you make it mean that they really didn’t care. That if they did, they’d be there. You’re needing them to change to be different so you can feel cared about.
Or when you need your family to contribute more around the house, not because it’d be nice and helpful but because you told them to and they’re not doing it. You need them to change, to help out, to clean more, to contribute so you can feel in control and when they don’t you make it mean they’re being disrespectful, they’re not caring about your time, your rules, your home.
Or when you need others to compliment you after you make something or give a talk or a performance or whatever it is so you can feel proud, confident, happy.
Stop giving others responsibility for your emotions. Decide ahead of time how you want to feel and then take responsibility for it! Stop blaming others for how you feel. If you don’t like how you feel, know that you and only you can change it. Take responsibility for your happiness, for your feelings, for your actions, and for the results in your life.
No matter what someone says to you, you can trust that you’re going to be totally fine because they can’t hurt you. Even if they come flat out and said, “I don’t like this about you.” You can be 100% okay because you recognize that THEY are in charge of their thoughts, emotions, and actions. What they said is about them. It’s about their thoughts, their preferences, their expectations. You can choose how you want to feel about that. You can choose to think, “oh, that’s a bummer they think that. I’m sorry you don’t like that.” And you can be okay with that and don’t have to change anything because you know it’s not about you. You didn’t create their dislike. You didn’t cause it. Knowing this and deciding how you do want to feel, what kind of person you do want to show up as actually helps the situation. When you take responsibility of your own emotions and just let them be in charge of their own you can have those conversations without getting hurt, without getting offended.
In fact, this is a HUGE reason why so many people refuse to have deeper conversations. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to say what they really think and feel because they’re afraid they’ll “HURT” The other person’s feelings. But what if you just realized and internalized that you CAN’T hurt their feelings – this isn’t to say we just show up calloused and nonchalant. In fact, the opposite, when you allow yourself to take responsibility you can show up caring, compassionate, and have those deep conversations because you know that no matter what they say can’t hurt you. You can’t hurt them. Instead of something to fear and avoid you allow the opportunity to take your relationship to a deeper level.
When we’re too wrapped up in the belief that we hurt them and they can hurt us we don’t have those talks. We fear conversations that could potentially hurt us and as a result we stay on a superficial level and walk on eggshells and miss out on how amazing that connection can be.
This takes work and a lot of practice. Think about how long you’ve been practicing believing that other people can hurt your feelings. It’s not an overnight process. It’s a daily, hourly practice.
You can pray for help. He is there. He is anxious to help you. He wants to help you show up as your best self however that looks for you. Do you know who you want to be and how you want to show up? It’s a really crucial question and one I ask myself a lot. When my kids do something I don’t agree with or that I would never have done I have to decide who I want to be in that moment. Do I want to be the kind of person that freaks out? Do I want to get angry? Do I want to be reactive? Or do I want to show up as compassionate? Loving? Curious?
I have to decide that. I have to know what direction to point my ship. I have to remind myself that no matter what others do it’s ultimately my choice whether I’m happy or unhappy, sad or joyful, hurt, or grateful, valued or rejected. Those are feelings. It’s my choice. How do I want to feel? How do I want to show up?
Other people can’t make us feel anything. We choose how we feel by the thoughts we choose to believe. Recognizing this is taking responsibility. Taking responsibility is the first step to freedom. It is harder. It’s more challenging. It’s easier to be a child. It’s easier to blame others. It’s easier to just complain about others and want them to change, want them to do all the work but it’s not a full life. It’s not fulfilling. It’s not helping you grow, evolve, or become more like Heavenly Father.
Practice recognizing that your thoughts create how you feel. Awareness is first. Awareness that you have a choice. Awareness that your thoughts created your feelings. Awareness that if you’re not happy only you can change that.
Stop trying to change them and decide to change you.
Take responsibility for your emotions and let others just be themselves with their own agency.
I’d love to hear from you as always. Email me and let’s chat. In fact, better yet, set up a free mini session and let’s work on upleveling your life!
Have a fantastic week! Talk to you guys next time!