Category Archives: Responsibility

Enlightenment

 exploding_sun image by schnuffibossi1

In my former worldview and system of thinking, I did not believe in Enlightenment, aside from the common, everyday use of the term. Gradually, I have begun to experience more and more what feels like capital e Enlightenment. This article by Barbara-Lynn Freed put a lot into words that I hadn’t actually verbalized.

She suggests that there are 5 ways to cultivate enlightenment:

1. Taking Personal Responsibility
2. Trusting Your Inner Authority
3. Being Authentically Vulnerable
4. Cultivating Unconditional Love and Forgiveness
5. Developing True Compassion

The first one of these that I understood was forgiveness. Way back when the big kids were little, I read something about the difference between saying “I’m sorry” and “I’m sorry, Will you please forgive me?” Asking for forgiveness allows us to be authentically vulnerable by humbling ourselves, and allows the one being asked to intentionally offer forgiveness.

Our culture is RIFE with “I’m sorry,” and yet it is often an empty formality. “[I’m] sorry you had to wait thirteen extra seconds for your fries.” “[I’m] sorry I forgot to call you back/rsvp/return your widget/answer your email.” Not every instance of “I’m sorry” must be followed up by “Will you please forgive me?” In relationships, many times an apology followed up by a request for forgiveness quadruples (at least) the power of the apology. As hard as it is for some to say “I’m sorry,” there are many more who have never uttered the words “Will you please forgive me?”

The next step for me was to begin to understand the value of listening to my own inner authority. In small group one evening, another young mother, Kristin, listened to me explaining how I had been listening to myself and acting based on what I sensed my inner wisdom telling me. Kristin longingly expressed how she wished she had such a thing, that she never seemed to know what to do.

Although my first exposure to the idea of taking personal responsibility was dear Viktor Frankl in “Man’s Search for Meaning, it was Tony Robbins who showed me the power of taking personal responsibility. Have you ever noticed how often in movies and television, a character will say, “I had no choice.”? Au contraire, tiny one, I always want to say. You did have a choice. Our most amazing choice available is that one which comes with every single experience. We get to choose how we are going to respond to it.

Last week in the court, the first defendant was a 19-yr-old developmentally delayed man. He was in jail on domestic violence charges against his aunt, who had been housing him. The only person he had as a possible replacement caregiver was a distant great-uncle. He has no other family, no friends. My heart broke for him. That may not be compassion, as much as it is sympathy, but I think it’s in the right direction — seeing him as a worthy and valued human who is capable and lovable, as well as someone who, like all of us, thrives when in an environment where we can express our capabilities and experience love.

Imagine a world, or a community, or a family, or even many individuals who take personal responsibility for their lives, who take the risk to trust their inner authority, believing that authentic vulnerability is actually a strength that benefits all of us, and who give and receive love and compassion and forgiveness. I can begin to imagine it, because I am seeing it in my own life. I want to be part of sharing and igniting this vision in other people. Won’t you join me?

A Light Bulb Moment about Entitlement

Here I’ve been thinking that the opposite of Entitlement is Gratitude, and what was needed to shift an entitlement mentality was a healthy dose of gratitude. But, noooooo. The opposite of Entitlement is RESPONSIBILITY.

I admit, I do know some people who seem to feel entitled to what they have, and more! And I kept thinking I needed to get them to focus on how much they DO have, how GOOD they have it, how people in so many other countries have it SO much harder. But, I noticed that those efforts weren’t actually shifting that sense for them. How do I know this? I was reading the comics yesterday morning and this comic was written for me, aka She-Who-Takes-on-Responsibility-That-Belongs-To-Others:

I hearkened back to my childhood, something worth hearkening back to, and I remembered how I was expected to contribute to the running of the household and the care of myself. I cleaned house, cleaned my room, kept my car filled with gas, participated in church activities, school activities, and studied for tests. I starting working at age 11, because I had the opportunity to work with my dad, but I was always interested in working, even scrubbing the kitchen floor, on hands and knees with my sisters one time, for the princely sum of $9.00, to be split three ways.

But I wouldn’t say I was grateful. I complained because my mom didn’t want to buy me the same clothes everyone else was wearing. My first Aigner jeans were bought with my own money. I complained because I wasn’t allowed to go places at all hours. It was distinctly unfair that we weren’t allowed to watch MTV. Church morning and night?? OMG, parents.

I would definitely say, though, that I was responsible. And because I was not only responsible, but ultra-super-overly-extra responsible, I did that human thing and ricocheted to the other end of the spectrum as a parent. Tried to say yes whenever I could. Did nice things for my children. And thought they would catch responsibility and gratitude. Au contraire. It is the delegation of responsibility onto a young person which is gradually assumed by that young person and ultimately creates a responsible adult.

Important note: This post is about my understanding of the entitlement mentality and may not reflect the views of others in my home.