Viewing entries tagged
responsibility

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Sometimes All You Can Do Is Nothing

Doesn't it just drive you mental when you're watching people make choices that you just know are going to have disastrous results? They might have asked your opinion and if you respect them, you'll have been honest with them (as tactfully as possible).

You might have offered your opinion without being asked (which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your relationship) - and there's never a guarantee that it will have been heard, but that's not up to you. At least you tried.

Despite obvious negative consequences, some or all of which may even be acknowledged by these people, they continue on their destructive path, rushing headlong into some nightmare or other, ignoring the wisdom of anyone who might have had anything to say on the subject.

And there you are, standing on the sidelines, bound and gagged watching someone you love or care about, careening down a steep hill on a bicycle at an insane rate of speed, and you're just waiting for the splat!! when they hit the brick wall that's waiting at the bottom.

It's natural for us to want to fix things for the people who are important to us, to prevent them from being hurt or making mistakes and winding up in some kind of trouble.

But the truth is, experience is the best teacher. If people don't 'get it' from thinking about the consequences of their actions, the only way they'll figure it out is to go through it.

They'll have learned something about themselves (or will repeat the lesson at a later time...a bigger ouch each time, until they learn it), and they'll have learned something about you, too, that you do have a clue, that your judgement is sound - at least sometimes.

They'll have learned that perhaps it's wise to at least consider the opinions of others who have an interest in their wellbeing.

It's especially awful when it's your children who are making these frightening (for parents) choices and ending up suffering the consequences of their foolhardy actions.

But no matter who it is, we can only do our best to guide, suggest and direct. After that, all of us have the right to choose our own paths, no matter how difficult they might ultimately be.

It could be said that there are no mistakes in life, only opportunities to learn. And it's true that experience is the best teacher. I know it doesn't feel like that when we're helplessly watching loved ones heading for a crisis but sometimes, all we can do is be there to support and encourage while they pick up the pieces of their lives.

And thank heaven, we're there to do it.

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Adulthood Should Involve A Journey Toward Childhood

When we're born, everyone within our circle of family and friends is excited as we reach each milestone in our development. Sleeping through the night, getting that first tooth, sitting up, walking - every step shows that we are growing up.

Throughout childhood, we are taught to sit still, to mind our manners, to contain our enthusiasm and our giggles in situations where they would not be appreciated. We are given chores, homework, and taught to take on responsibility, all of it in preparation for becoming independent adults.

Gradually, we become less playful, more responsible, and we are officially "adults", working, taking care of our errands, our homes, making sure we have taxes done before the deadlines, seeing to car repairs, and generally looking after all the mundane details of life. There is so much to do.

Circumstances change, obstacles are thrown at us. We lose jobs and can't find new ones. We become seriously ill. We struggle with relationships, with legal matters, with difficult children. We spend many years or even decades feeling as though we have the weight of the world on our shoulders.

If we're lucky, there comes a point at which we realise that this is no way to live. We recognise the fact that being an adult is not much fun, and we long for joy and laughter.

We watch children playing and wish we could squeal and giggle and delight in the simplest pleasures as they do.

Sighing heavily, our shoulders sag and the wistful smile fades as we remember that we must behave like adults.

Essentially, we spend our lives, from the moment of birth, trying to become less like children and more like adults. But once we're there, once we understand and live with our responsibilities, there is no reason in the world why we cannot reconnect with the childlike, playful spirits that hide within us.

Unfortunately, for many of us, childhood was not a happy time. Some of us would even say we did not have a childhood. In that case, it's even more important to discover the freedom, the lightness and joy that come from connecting with that little child who is just aching to come out and play.

I'm not just talking about being silly and playful, although these are good for a start. I'm talking about taking a more childlike approach to life. Your average kid doesn't freak out and stress about what's going to happen next week, next month or next year. They're not worrying about what they did two months ago, two years ago, or even earlier this morning. They're too busy enjoying "right now", completely immersed in the moment, focused on the task at hand, whether it's painstakingly practicing their penmanship or smooshing paint around on a piece of paper with their hands.

By nature, children are very egocentric. The world revolves around them. This is to ensure that they survive, that they get their needs met. Most of us could do with a dose of this "What about me?" attitude, as it can be far too easy to put ourselves at the bottom of a long list of other priorities.

But in reality, if we do not take care of ourselves and what we need FIRST, then the rest of it eventually falls by the wayside and/or we become depressed, exhausted, depleted, burned out and resentful. No one else is responsible for our wellbeing; that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of each and every one of us, to take care of ourselves so that we're able to take care of our responsibilities and to do our bit for each other, and the world at large.

When eyeing a plate of cookies or a piece of pie, children will naturally gravitate toward the largest one, something most of us would do except that we've been taught that this is rude. But all I can say is "Good for them, they know exactly what they want and they go for it."

And how hard is it for a kid to be in the midst of cleaning a very messy bedroom, or doing a huge pile of homework, and sneak in a break, play with a toy or read something fun or stare out the window and daydream for a while? Not hard at all.

Yes, of course it is essential for us to learn how to become functional and responsible adults. But that doesn't have to mean that our spirits (which are so easily visible in childhood) get permanently buried under a mountain of obligation and worry just because we're over the age of 18. That little spirit in each of us is meant to keep us balanced, so we can manage the necessities and complications of human existence, whilst enjoying the experience and getting as much out of it as possible. It's not supposed to be all work and worry!

It seems that childhood is meant to be a journey toward adulthood, but adulthood should involve a journey toward childhood, too.

Now is your chance to get moving. Pack a lunch - making sure you get the biggest cookie - and enjoy that journey. It'll bring you more joy and fulfillment than you've ever known.

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Your Happiness Depends on This

If you're like most people, you find yourself saying things like, "Oh, she makes me so mad!" Or "He loves to say things just to hurt me!" Or "I have to do it or they'll be really disappointed!"

Many people go through life believing their feelings are controlled by the words and actions of others when, in fact, this is impossible.

No one can make you feel anything in particular. You are always in control of your own feelings and responses to whatever happens around you. If someone is insulting you and saying hateful things to you, it's up to you to decide whether or not to feel hurt, offended, or disappointed.

You could look at that person and just think, "Wow, that person has a lot of emotional wounds to behave like this. It's not about me and I'm not taking it on as mine."

No one can make you angry. No one can make you sad. No one can make you feel disappointed. Another person's behaviour is that person's choice and responsibility. Not yours.

Let's look at the idea that people "push your buttons." The truth is that you don't have any buttons to push; you have simply taught them that if they say or do a certain "something", you will respond in a specific way. So how do you break that cycle?

If you don't like that dynamic, you are always free to change it by showing a different response. When you do this consistently, eventually the other person will give up attempting to get the desired result. They may step up their efforts to get you to be the way you used to be, but if you refuse to give them the old response, eventually they'll stop trying to get it.

It might not happen overnight but if you continue to honour and respect yourself and not allow yourself to feel hurt by what amounts to a demonstration of another person's emotional wounds, eventually you will see big shifts in the dynamics of your relationship.

You get to choose your responses, and that includes the decision to end a relationship in which you are subjected to a continual or frequent barrage of negativity. I am not suggesting that if you're in relationship that includes verbal and emotional abuse, you should just continue to ignore it and tolerate it.

The point I'm making is the same though: Although an abuser's toxic words and actions are not your fault or responsibility, your reactions are.


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