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Taking Responsibility is where your power lies

by Jack Cox

If it's someone else's fault, you can't fix it, but whrn you own it you can. I just can't stress enough how important it is to take 100% responsibility for everything that is happening in our life because, when we fail to take responsibility, we give away our power but when we assume responsibility, we take back control! This is probably the most important success principle of them all.

Everyone who has been involved in personal or spiritual growth has heard this over and over: you create your reality. However almost no one understands what this means in a real, practical, moment by moment way. I see this in my clients. They nod and smile as I talk about this stuff, and then five minutes later act as if they had no control over what they were feeling and how they are experiencing the world. When we let our minds run on autopilot, which most of us do most of the time, they just create whatever they have been set up to create by our past experiences. We feel like victims. Life just seems to happen to us. Our feelings seem to just pop out of nowhere, our behaviours seem to just happen and our results seem to just happen. All this means is that the creative process is going on under the surface, outside of our awareness. Dose any of this sound familiar to you?

You must take 100% responsibility for everything that happens in your life, no matter who is to blame. I hear a lot of blaming others in the questions people send in to my website. Don't do it. Blaming others is a trap that will keep you stuck where you are for ever.

To illustrate what I mean, let me make up a little, wholly fictitious, story. Once upon a time, in a land far away, was a chemical refinery. One day they had a terrible chemical spill and all the surrounding factories on the estate had to be evacuated. Millions of hours of production were lost and the inhabitants of the town feared for their heath. At the subsequent enquiry, John said it was Bill's fault because he pushed the wrong button. Billsaid it was John's fault because, as his supervisor, John should have made sure Bill knew which button to press. Then John tried to blame Peter because he designed the control panel and should have labelled the buttons more clearly. Graham then stepped up and announced that it really does not matter whether Bill, John or Peter were to blame. This is not about blame, its about responsibility and as the Plant Manager, Graham took full responsibility for the actions of all three of them.

Why did Graham do this? Is it because he is a fair and decent person? Yes partly, but Graham realised that if he blamed Bill, John or Peter he would be giving away his authority as Plant Manager but by accepting full responsibility he gives himself the power to see that nothing like this accident ever happens again.

If we want to be in charge of our own lives, we must take 100% responsibility for everything that happens to us, whether its our fault or not. No blaming others, ever, even if they are at fault. If you adopt this mindset you will find that it gives you tremendous personal power. For those of you who have not had good fortune so far or have not received the blessings you had hoped for, please know you can take responsibility, right now, and move your life forward.

There is a wonderful story told by Jack Canfield about the time he worked for W. Clement Stone. In his first week on the job, stone asked him if he took 100% responsibility for his life. Apparently the conversation went something like this:

Canfield: ;I think so.;

Stone: This is a yes or no question young man.Either you do or you don't.

Canfield: Well I guess I'm not sure.

Stone: Have you ever blamed anyone for any circumstance in your life? Have you ever complained about anything?

Canfield: Uh ... year ... I guess I have.

Stone: Don't guess, think.

Canfield: ;Yes I have;.

Stone: Okay then. That means you don't take one hundred percent responsibility for your life. Taking one hundred percent responsibility means that you acknowledge that you create everything that happens to you. I means that you understand that you are the cause of all your experiences. If you want to be really successful, and I know that you do, then you will have to give up blaming and complaining and take total responsibility for your life. That means all your results, both your successes and your failures. That is the prerequisite for creating a life of success. It is only by acknowledging that you have created everything up until now, that you can take charge of creating the future you want.

Taking 100% responsibility is a choice. We either choose to act as if we are responsible for every event in our lives or we don't. We either choose to stop blaming others or we don't. Its our choice but its a decision that will either empower or disempower us. What will you choose?

When things go wrong, which attitude puts you in the strongest position? Is it saying it's not my fault it was that fool or is it saying how did I mess that up, what was I thinking, what can I do better next time?

Dr. Robert Resnick, an American psychotherapist, teaches an interesting little formula:

Event + Response = Outcome

In other words he is saying that it is the event, plus our response to it, which determines the outcome. For any given event, we can determine the outcome by the way we respond to it. Interesting.  If we don't like the results we are getting, our outcomes, all we have to do is change our responses. Simple.

So say some annoying little thing happens and we respond by becoming irritated. The problem with this response is that irritated emotional states never seek solutions; they only seek justifications for their existence! These states constantly feed us supposedly good reasons for why we feel bad. The weakness that leads us to blame others blinds us to our real inner condition.  So we wind up going nowhere except around and downwards, for as long as we go on avoiding our responsibility. The next time you feel yourself starting to become frustrated, angry or scared, do your best to remember that negative emotions cannot exist without having something or someone else to blame.

If we choose not to react in that way, but just to observe what is going on, we can become an objective witness of our own superheated emotions. And from the safety of this higher awareness we can often see options that we couldn't see before. Try this next time and your self-command will be restored and heightened and a better outcome will result.

When I used to coach people, before I retired, I could quickly tell what they tended to focus on because their life was the result of that focus. If you learn to focus your mind intentionally and consciously on what you want, you'll attract or create it. Now please don't misunderstand. When I say that you're creating your life, I'm not saying that it's your fault. As I keep saying, this is not about fault or blame, it's about responsibility. Fault implies that you did something wrong and that's not necessarily the case. You are not doing any of this stuff intentionally. Something happened to you, though, probably when you were very young, that caused you to react to circumstances in a certain way.

This habitual way of reacting is probably being reinforced daily by cultural and media indoctrination and peer pressure. Its time to opt out of the Isn't it awful club. Stop moaning and complaining. You will find that, if you choose to take your reactions off autopilot and take conscious charge of them, your life can be a different way. Once you do that, you can create anything and everything you want.

Blame belongs to the world of right and wrong, good and evil, a crazy black and white world which can only exit in our imagination. People who are concerned about not being to blame almost always have been abused or traumatised in some way. They feel like victims, and they want someone to blame, and they certainly don't want it to be them. Because of their abuse, they strongly focus on what they do not want, and one of the things they do not want is to be blamed, to be wrong. Psychologists call this perspective a shame reaction. Shame is the idea that there is something wrong with you, that you are defective or broken in some way. When someone is abused, they very often conclude that the fact that the abuse happened means that there is something wrong with them, and they feel ashamed.

So please do try to move beyond blame orientated thinking. You have nothing to blame yourself for or to feel ashamed about. If you made some apparent 'mistake' in the past you will have learned something from it and will be a wiser, stronger person now because of it. It really is a win-win situation. However it is also true that you are where you are now because of what you did, or didn't do, then, so take responsibility for it. It is by acting AS IF we are responsible, that we take back our power.

No matter what happens, we should never blame anyone, or anything, for the events in our lives or the way we feel. Rising above the blame game is the road to learning how to be in total command of ourselves. Blaming conflict-filled feelings on any condition or person outside of ourselves is like getting angry at our shoes for being laced too tightly.

You may know someone who is constantly depressed or angry or is afraid of a lot of things. Then they attract into their lives more situations to be depressed or angry about.

If we are nervous and stressed out we can change by changing the way we communicate with ourselves. Our non-stop stream of mental dialog, our self-talk, is the biggest reason for our negative and disempowering reactions. I will go into much more detail about self-talk or internal dialogue, in a later lesson but for now just try to be aware of what you are saying to yourself in your head. Are you constantly reminding yourself about how badly someone has treated you, or how bad the economy is or how naughty your dog has been?  If so STOP! Instead ask yourself what decision or action you took, or failed to take, which brought the situation about.

Clients often tell me that ; I can't help the way I feel. It's not my fault... if my boss, my wife, my kids would just (fill in the blank) then I'd feel better.


If someone would just listen to me, I would be more successful.


I can never get a break.


I'm surrounded by idiots. It's no wonder I can't get anything done.


Everyone is always sabotaging my efforts.


If only my husband had not fallen for thatbeautiful younger woman I would still be happy

Does any of this sound familiar to you? People who make these excuses are allowing themselves to be controlled by others.

Responsibility has nothing to do with blame. Responsibility is our ability to respond, to do something about it, to learn from it, and to move on with our lives. Bad things happen, that's life, but its up to us how we respond to it. The truth is that all our achievements and failures are 100% our responsibility.

Remember that all the things you are experiencing today have arisen out of decisions and actions you took, or failed to take, in the past. I know its easy to be wise after the event. If you had known it was going to turn out this way you would have acted differently. I believe that all of us, even the worst criminal, act the best way they know how in every moment. Wisdom comes with hindsight, not foresight. This brings me back to the six step process I introduced in Lesson 1.  The only way to progress is to act, evaluate the result of the action, and then act again. So don't beat yourself up if you have made unwise decisions in the past.  Just learn from your mistake, devise a different, revised course of action, and keep going.

Our lives are revealed to us by the choices we make. If you take an honest look, and honest assessment of where you are with your quality of life you will find you have put yourself right where you are. If you have a great marriage then you made the right choice of spouse and you continue to make the right choices every day to nurture and grow the relationship. If you are broke, incurring a mountain of debt and living hand to mouth then look around. How did you get into the mess you are in now? Think about it honestly, then begin making different choices and different outcomes must result.

As Jack Canfield likes to say ;If you keep on doing what you've always done, you will keep on getting what you've always got.

That's the beauty of the six step process. It allows you to pay attention to feedback, change course and get a different result.

Many people have made unwise decisions yet still gone on to achieve greatness. Bill Gates dropped out of college even though his parents didn't want him to. Yet he still managed to become a billionaire by the time he was 31. He didn't achieve that by telling himself he was a worthless dropout. No he created a marvellous reality for himself by taking responsibility and telling himself he could achieve anything. He then held a vision of the future he intended to have in his mind until, one day, he was impaired with his idea for the computer operating system MS-Dos.

Others have clearly determined their success by the way they responded to events. Tiger Woods' dad made him practice, but that didn't ensure he'd be anything but pretty good. Lots of parents push their kids. But most people push back, experiencing only anxiety from it. Instead Woods took responsibility for himself, responded to the pressure in the right way and went on to become a world champion.

Everybody has pressure and setbacks, that's just 'so what?'. No matter what you set out to do there will be obstacles and challenges. Your job is to figure a way to go over, under, around or through these challenges and get to the other side. This is done by focusing on the outcome you want and asking ;How can I?

Anyone can make excuses or blame outside circumstances for everything that is wrong in their lives. Those people are called losers But that's not you, not any more.

To the exact same situations, one person reacts with depression (It's over now, I'll never make it.), anotherperson reacts with anger (It's his fault!), and yetanother person responds with hope and optimism (Well, you can't win them all. I'll do better next time.) It's not wha happens to us that counts, it's how we see what happens to us and around us, and how we react to it.

Will you react like a winner or a loser?

So when things don't go according to plan in one or more areas of life, to point fingers anywhere but to ourselves is to guarantee we keep getting more of the same. Its the self-talk in our heads, and the discussion we have with others,  that shape our view of our world and of ourselves. If we keep seeing things in the same old way, we will keep getting the same poor results. Maybe its time for a change.

A great way to start taking responsibility for your life could well be to clear out those old bad habits that have been holding you back for so long. It's easy to do with the RIGHT HELP.

Freedom comes at a price. Fortunately the price is easy to pay. Just stop blaming others for your quality of life. No one is doing anything to you that you are not allowing them to do. This may sound harsh and callous but actually it's the key. You are responsible for walking through the door that has held you back for so long. You are responsible for creating the life you desire. And what a beautiful life that will be.

The Success Principles:
How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
by Jack Canfield

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