It has taken me a while to process what happened at our nation’s capitol on January 6, 2021. As I watched the chaos unfold, I felt bewildered and wondered, “What is wrong with the world today?”
How could people become violent over an election dispute? How could people justify storming the capitol, destroying property, assaulting fellow citizens (including police officers), and threatening our elected officials?
As I sat and sat with what I saw, it occurred to me that what is at the base of this violence, is the absence of a basic life skill. The skill I am referring to is RESPONSIBILITY – taking responsibility for what you think, say and do.
What It Means To Take 100% Responsibility
Years ago I learned the essential role responsibility plays in ALL relationships – no matter whether professional, personal, social or community based.
When I sought help to improve my relationships, I turned to Diana Chapman and Jim Dethmer. In their book, The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, they identify the very first commitment as Taking 100% Responsibility.
Why is it first? Because taking 100% responsibility is the commitment on which all else builds. It is grounded in reality.
When taking responsibility, we face the reality of the life we have created for ourselves – our relationships, jobs, living situation, finances, health, fitness, etc. – and own up to what we have done in thought, word and deed to create our lives the way that they are.
I see myself as a leader in my own life, in my family, in my marriage, in my community and in my professional life. I view myself as the one responsible for creating all of my experiences, in all aspects of my life. In so doing, I impact those around me. If I have impact, then I can lead by contributing to healing what is wrong in the world. We all can be leaders in this way.
How Blame Leads To What Is Wrong With The World
What we saw on January 6, was a massive crowd of people NOT taking 100% responsibility. We saw people making others responsible for their anger, their fear and their actions.
We saw a crowd of people blaming a situation/story – the election was stolen – as justification for breaking the law and threatening the safety of other human beings. In their eyes:
- the system was responsible (for election fraud)
- the law makers were responsible (for not reversing the election results)
- the law enforcement officers were responsible (for blocking their access to those they sought to punish).
This all occurred because they were not taking responsibility for what they were experiencing. Instead, they chose to believe that law makers who disagreed with them should be assaulted for their lack of action. For example, they chose to assert that belief by shouting, “Hang Mike Pence.” They also chose to storm the capitol, destroy property, and assault those in their path.
Our culture teaches us to blame circumstances, other people’s behavior or our past experiences for the way we choose to show up in this world. Once we truly understand that we are the creators of our own lives, that we are 100% responsible for creating our experiences, we can stop the cycle of unconsciously creating what we don’t want and shift into the power of creating consciously.
Take Responsibility For What You Think, Say And Do
What the response to the election could have looked like from a position of 100% responsibility:
- Thought: The election was stolen and I feel angry.
- Word: “I am angry. This is important to me. I love my country and want fair and lawful elections. I want my concerns to be addressed.”
- Action: Research and gather facts. Understand the law and counterpoints to claims being made. Peacefully protest. Write letters and make phone calls to representatives stating the above concern. Elect officials that support the same views. Run for office. Write articles. And all of this done without blame or name calling.
If I took 100% responsibility for my own experience, it would look like this:
- Thought: Our capitol was stormed, people assaulted and threatened and I feel scared and angry.
- Word: “I want everyone to take responsibility for what they are creating. I want everyone to stop blaming and attacking each other. I want everyone to seek to understand and collaborate with each other in order to create a system that respects and addresses the needs of all it citizens.”
- Action: Inform myself. Write and speak about the importance of taking responsibility. Take responsibility for my own blame and criticism. Talk to those who disagree with me; so I can better understand them, their concerns and their needs.
All this is not to say that taking responsibility will eliminate the fear, anger and sadness that often ignite our reactivity. But instead, the purpose is to simply realize that our feelings occur in response to what we experience. We are responsible for how we express those feelings through what we think, say and do.
Set Yourself Up To Live Responsibly
It is also important to remember, that as human beings we are often in a reactive state of mind (95% of the time) as a function of our built-in protection system. Therefore, having self-compassion for our natural reactivity is necessary.
It is pointless to shame and blame ourselves for being human and reactive – because that is what we are. Instead, it is far more efficient and effective to be compassionate toward ourselves when we become reactive.
For example, we can start by giving ourselves a moment of acceptance for being in a reactive state. Then we can turn our focus to the issue at hand and how to thoughtfully respond from 100% responsibility.
In addition to self compassion, we also need to be aware of and take responsibility for how we are taking care of ourselves. Take a look at how you are living your life. Ask yourself if it is supportive of being mindful, aware and thoughtfully responsive? Are you running on empty and even more prone to reactivity? Are you so busy and distracted that you don’t shift into self compassion and responsibility?
100% Responsibility Heals What Is Wrong With The World
What it all comes down, to is this. If we want to change what is wrong with the world, each of us must take 100% responsibility for ourselves and what we are bringing to the table.
Here’s to a year of taking your 100%!
To learn how life coaching can help you take 100% responsibility in your life, sign up for my free weekly life coaching virtual open house.