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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Essay 5. Accepting Emotional Responsibility For Your Actions

Thus far, we have singled out flawed belief systems and our false sense of self or ego as the two greatest barriers to emotional freedom. We recognize them.

Think of faulty beliefs and the ego as ancient operating systems in a computer that have accumulated viruses over time and now are rendering the computer and memory capacity incapable of performing optimally like it once did. We can't see the problem but we know that one exists because of our poor emotional state. We have a virus, faulty beliefs and our ego, and we accept this. We want to eradicate those things from our hard drive and reduce the ill effects. Having determined the problem, it is time to get out the tools and go to work.

Failing to take responsibility for our actions is actually quite understandable. As children we were punished when we failed to do as we were asked or for bad behavior. We sought the rewards for good conduct and avoided punishment at all costs. We learned that we could minimize, lie, or blame others for our bad behavior and we were successful at that sometimes. We continued to evade responsibility for our behavior as we grew into adults and eventually we passed this belief system onto our children. Parents do this primarily through actions but also verbally. Responsibility avoidance thus becomes one of those flawed belief systems.

In many people it becomes so normal and acceptable that it is second nature. It becomes part of their ego.

While responsibility avoidance certainly allows people to avoid near term consequences when it is accepted or tolerated, it has much larger downstream consequences. It has a cumulative effect on the emotional health of the deceiving party. The deceiver becomes the deceived. The deceiver never gets better because the conduct goes unchecked. Deceptive conduct manifests itself as drinking, drugging, job loss, conflict, marital and family disputes, infidelity, broken friendships. As those things unwind the deceiver rationalizes and justifies his conduct further with the aid of a fear driven ego that does not want to accept the punishment for poor conduct. The ego continues to engage in whining, blaming, justifying, and bad mouthing perceived adversaries whoever they might be.

Failing to take responsibility at the behest of a fear driven ego is insane. Continuing to practice that behavior won't yield different results. There is only one solution.

We must take responsibility for everything that happens to us. If we walk into a crosswalk without looking and get hit by a bus, we take responsibility. If we feel cheated out of a promotion we accept that we could have done better and prepared better and we vow to improve. We don't blame the boss. If our wife cheats on us, we accept our role in helping to damage the relationship in such a way that it came to that. Our role is inescapable and we scrutinize and accept our actions. At every turn.

We refuse to deceive, rationalize, or justify our own failings or to behave like victims. We are going to try and accept the blame for all of our wrongs and we are going to refuse to engage in future behavior that tempts us to avoid responsibility.

We are going to quit deceiving ourselves. We will become role models for our kids and break this national pandemic of responsibility avoidance and enabling. By applying this to all of our dealings we will arm our children with the gift of accepting responsibility for their actions. We are going to feel better about ourselves and we are going to quit feeling guilty.

We are going to chip away at our bad beliefs and fragile egos that cling to the idea that this is acceptable conduct and we will not pass this bad belief system on. Accepting responsibility becomes a key ingredient in establishing emotional freedom.

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