Why Taking Responsibility Will Set You Free

My morning note from the Universe after teaching on same topic:

“The more responsible one becomes, the farther their wings reach. ~ Fly, The Universe”

There is a teaching in the Tantra that says we are born innately free. Rather than seeking freedom as a spiritual goal (i.e. as if you never had it to begin with), freedom is actually an inherent asset, lying there waiting to be accessed all along.

As we respect our own innate freedom, we come to a teaching in the Tantra called “Radical Affirmation” or in Sanskrit, “Shri”.  Radical Affirmation has many meanings, one of which is that we must also be receptive to others’ freedom.

Tantric scholar Douglas Brooks recently shared with me that “Radical Affirmation is how we get real about what the world is offering us.” It is kind of like welcoming everything that comes your way with open arms and a big YES.  And if you have not noticed, being alive in the 21st century, the world (out of its crazy freedom!) offers up some pretty weird sh*t!

In the toughest times of my life, I have held myself back from my innate freedom (and from everyone and everything else) when, rather than receive what the world was offering, I blamed someone or something else for what was going wrong.  I was either going to say YES and figure out my part in the matter (Radical Affirmation) then move on, or I was going to cry “victim”.

Being a victim is, let’s just say it, not attractive.

Being a victim keeps us in a holding pattern that in yoga we call “Samsara”, or as Douglas says, “a dis-empowering process where we say, “I know better but…”

When things go wrong, we are so afraid to be vulnerable, we often put the onus anywhere but on ourselves.  We might feel better or righteous for a second or two, but we rarely expand or grow.  Instead we stay stuck in the same ruts (Samskaras).

In almost all cases, the events of our lives and the results we are getting can be traced back to guess who? Ourselves.

  • Sure, the traffic was heinous, but I was the one who cut it too close.
  • Sure, he lied to me and promised the world, but I’m the one who trusted him.
  • Sure, I never watched that crappy exercise video collecting dust on the shelf, but I’m the one who bought it.
  • Sure, I took on too much in one day, but I’m the one who said YES and did not say NO.
  • Sure, they stood me up and flaked, but I was the one who expected they could be accountable.
  • Sure, they gave me the wrong directions, but it was me who did not listen to my intuition.
  • Sure, I felt terrible and had no energy, but I was the one who ate poorly and did not get enough sleep.

Getting the picture?

“If you don’t like your outcomes, change your responses.” ~Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, has a principle of success that he teaches to thousands of students all over the world and that is to take 100% responsibility for your life in order to be truly empowered, fully free, and to succeed in creating a life of meaning.

In order to do this, he says, you have to completely give up:

  • Blaming
  • Complaining
  • Justifying
  • Making Excuses

So what do you do when you have a victim blaming you or giving you unsolicited negative feedback?

A victim typically wants vengeance.  “Vengeance,” Douglas Brooks says, “is a bit like watching the death penalty”.  The person getting the so-called vengeance is left in their same samsaric state as before the death, and any dysfunction on their part is enabled to continue on.

The best approach is to choose to be irenical (ie. aim toward peace), and let your opponent be right, give them “their little pound of flesh” as Douglas says.  Then you can walk away empowered, having owned your part.

In addition you will have placed proper boundaries on any expectations of them to “get it” or take some of the responsibility them selves.  Because when someone really wants to be the victim, they usually won’t budge, so why should we expect otherwise?  Just throw them the bone.

“Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” ~ Esther Lederer

The key to “letting go”, that process so many yogi’s long to be able to do, is to take ownership first through radical affirmation of all that could possibly be true, take responsibility for your contribution, and then truly, the wings of your inherent freedom will soar.