What does “personal responsibility” mean to you? Take a moment before reading on to just notice what moves in your body as you read those two words. How do those words make you feel?
For me, the notion of personal responsibility resonates as empowering. In a recent Becoming Gaia call I was reminded that the notion of responsibility can be triggering for some while it is empowering for others. As is the case with language, the word does not have a singular meaning but it necessarily depends on how it is anchored in each person’s nervous system. In other words, the meaning of any word is dependent on how each individual perceives it. So the same word that feels expansive to someone feels collapsing to another, empowering to one yet disempowering to another, legitimate to one yet illegitimate to another…and so on.
To understand better what the word means in my life, I like to explore what the opposite of that word is. What is the opposite of “responsibility” as you sense it in your life?
For me, what comes up is freedom. Carefree.
Being Responsible to My Self
Yet, I sense a paradox playing out here. While the opposite of responsibility may be carefree (what would you say it is?), I find a sense of joy and carefree-eness when I hold myself as responsible to my Self (my Higher Self/ my Spirit/ my Essence / my godForce / my raison-d’etre).
I’m not talking about the small duties that people call responsibility. I’m talking about the big stuff. I’m talking about being responsible for integrity, generosity, curiosity, fun, joy, expansion, Life! I’m talking about responsibility toward my evolution, my higher calling. I’m talking about really listening to my Signal from Self and acting from a place of deep respect for the aspect of consciousness expressing uniquely that I AM. That means that in being responsible toward my Self (my calling, my being) I am carefree. Because the responsibility I integrate into my life is that of my choosing…and I’d have it no other way.
What I’m talking about here is an internally referenced source of responsibility.
That is the birthright of my potential.
What I notice people refer to responsibility in the environment/behaviour levels of existence are things like having to prove themselves at work; work harder; do it all; keep going till it hurts; ignore wishes and dreams; diminish the role of fantasy; raise their children “properly”; save (hoard) money for some imagined future; sacrifice the moment; sacrifice themselves.
I am entirely uninterested in responsibility in the conventional sense as externally imposed. This is why I hold little attachment to the “shoulds” that often come with the internalization of responsibility at the environment/behaviour level. It’s why I don’t value politeness for its own sake (I value authenticity); it’s why I don’t value hoarding (I value the flow of abundance and internal space); it’s why I don’t value the conventional role of parenting (I value presence and honesty); it’s why I don’t value sacrificial roles (I value personal evolution and expansion).
As far as parenting is concerned, I believe my offspring is born knowing and able; my only responsibility as a parent is show him how to Live an Authentic, Courageous, Meaningful Life. What I’ve come to internalize as truth in my life is that what I, the caretaker, model to my child is who they become. Our programming for life happens in the first seven years of life because that is when our brains are in a state of hypnosis and thus they unconsciously absorb who to become based not on what parents say, but what they do and how they live their lives. I loved this video talking about exactly that “How Did We Get Here and Where Are We Going?“.
I am also uninterested in the conventional sense of carefree. The notion of carefree at the environment/ behaviour level feels constricting. I experience this notion as not-caring rather than freedom from caring. Not caring seems like a moving-away-from strategy; an indicator of too much caring and feeling exhausted by it. I’ve lived it and I see it in people all around me acting impulsively (rather than intuitively), spending resources carelessly (their mantra being “I don’t have enough”), lying to themselves of how “it’ll be alright” (while ignoring all the signs in their body/life to the contrary), living for the moment in a way that’s dismissive (or worse, abusive) of their emerging future Self.
In this sense, carefree also means offloading responsibility on someone else for our life (it’s X’s fault I am like this). This type of thinking is called “self-victimizing” because it is a paralyzing mindset that does not allow us to act on our own behalf — so long as X is responsible for my life, I can’t (as in, I am both unwilling and unable to) take responsibility for my life, and therefore act courageously on my own behalf. I continue to find fault & blame and give away my power all the while expecting others to change. Sound familiar?
Being Responsibly Carefree
In owning my sense of responsibility to myself, I create a space where carefree manifests in a way that’s expansive and meaningful; in a way that is real. I don’t get this crippling sensation of shutting down into myself when I think of responsibility at the highest orders of thinking: connecting to Spirit. It is who I am, and it is who I am choosing to become.
In living from that space of connection to Spirit (that which I AM), I choose responsibility to myself, which means that I own my life as my own creation. The good, the bad and the ugly is all mine. That is how I know myself to be powerful — in holding myself responsible to myself for creating a life of meaning in each unfolding moment. Prioritizing things like integrating myself into “nature” (as if we’re separate!), engaging in expansive and meaningful conversations with people who enliven me and allow me to consider what else is possible, being the things I sense in my body I AM like writer for this blog, teacher of Kundalini yoga, holder of space for those who are seeking to evolve. As I move through life, I am continuously and actively looking for joy! And, owning when I’ve created not-joy. Ah, gotta love the seemingly paradoxical rules guiding the universe!
I like this notion of owning my creations. The first while I heard it, I found it hard to know what that means. I know of ownership of stuff; but how does that relate to owning the good, the bad and the ugly of my life? Well, the first part is always to acknowledge it. To decloak to one’s self that “that is my truth, in this moment” despite the fear/shame/guilt. From there, so much space has been opened for a shift in consciousness. Because I am no longer a victim of my circumstances, I have now become an observer to the life I am creating. There is nothing good/bad/right/wrong (even though it feels like there is). There is a huge sense of freedom that comes from seeing the world through new perceptual filters that map to who and what I now know myself to be.
Personal power comes from letting go of any and all such constricting notions that keep us victims to ourselves and our creations. That, to me, is personal responsibility of the highest orders. Responsibility to my own becoming, my own evolution, my own expansion of Self. That is personal freedom of the highest orders. That is the end of the destructive status quo. That is how collective consciousness shifts.
That is how I choose to live my life, responsibly carefree and carefree in my personal responsibility.
PS- that picture featured in this post is of me on my last birthday. The older I get, the more joy I find in playfulness, silliness for it’s own sake!