How did we lose the true meaning of Responsibility? Webster’s meaning is ‘something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.’ This is based on an outdated model of polarized right and wrong. Should implies a judgment, required infers an obligation.
What if responsibility meant none of these things? What if instead, it meant our ability to respond? And even more importantly, our ability to attend to OUR OWN response.
While I have written about how we have misplaced our responsibility in our relationships, there is a deeper shift that is vital. That change begins with creating a new meaning for this word. What about: Responsibility is our ability to fully respond to our experience in each moment.
Without others recognizing our response, we begin to lose trust in it and even push it down.
If we have been taught that we are responsible for someone else’s response (how they feel, what they want, how they see us, etc.), we are doomed. It is our own response that we need to attend to. This happens automatically when our natural response is recognized by those that raised us. If we ask for something, our need is recognized, even if it isn’t met in the way we expected. Our experience is fully acknowledged and allowed to be the way it is. When we are treated this way as children, and then gently guided to trust our own response, we become natural navigators in our own world. Unfortunately, too many of us were not responded to in this way – if at all. Without others recognizing our response, we begin to lose trust in it and even push it down. This can lead to numbness, detachment, and disconnection from, or hiding, our own natural response. For me, I would question whether I had a ‘right’ to feel the way I did. I used to act from the belief that I needed to hide or ‘tamp down’ my response since it was not OK the way it was and may do harm to another.
Now, as my own inner CEO, I can see how I focused my attention on other people’s responses and attending to them as a way to get my own needs met. When I was young, my ego learned that if I could attend to my parent’s response, sometimes I could get my needs met. A very round-about way to do it, yet many of us have been trained into this survival strategy. The problem is that it’s based on a lie. What I need now as an adult, no longer depends on other people’s response to me. Now I can honor my own, natural response to what is happening, and act as the loving inner-parent for my inner-child, regardless of what others are doing, saying, or feeling.
How will you honor your inner response today?