Monday, January 23, 2012

Taking Responsibility

Taking Responsiblity by Dennis Liegghio
(excerpt from Building a Foundation for Happiness )

Life is difficult. This is the great truth, one of the greatest truths—it is a great truth because once we see this truth, we transcend it. ~ M. Scott Peck

For so many years, I believed that my life was a cruel joke, and was the direct result of everything that had ever happened to me. I believed that I was “born to lose” and I blamed my life events and the circumstances that I was born into. Coming to terms with three, simple truths about life allowed me to start looking at my life from a different perspective, and helped to set me free from the chains of the past.

1. Life is sometimes difficult, and can seem unfair. Bad things happen to good people every day. That’s life. We can’t control much of what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. There are ups and downs, tragedies and triumphs, love and loss. It’s all a part of the human experience and accepting that we can’t control much of what we experience allows us to focus on the experience itself, trusting that “this too shall pass”, and take with us the lesson that we are meant to learn. Struggle, pain and adversity exist so that we may learn resilience, humility and compassion. These things did not happen to us because we are cursed or doomed or born to suffer. These things happen to us so that we can grow.

2. The world doesn’t owe me anything. I believed for so long, that because my life had been full of tragedy and heartbreak and loss that I was entitled to peace, love, success and happiness. I believed that I shouldn’t have to put any effort into, or work toward these things. I believed life owed me this. God owed me this. Everyone who I ever came into contact with owed me this. That is what I expected, and that is how I behaved. Nobody owes me anything of course, and when I accepted that, and took responsibility for it, my perceptions began to change. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have (and what I believed I should have), I began focusing on all of the amazing gifts and people in my life, and being grateful for them. Acknowledging that gratitude each day – in my heart, and out loud, helped me redirect my thoughts and to accept that I wasn’t entitled to anything. Everything was a gift! If I wanted peace, and love and success and happiness (for whatever those things meant to me) I had to work towards these things, just like everyone else.

3. My happiness and well-being is MY responsibility. For so many years, I would go to sleep each night hoping that someday, some girl would swoop into my life and rescue me. Take me away from all this pain and sadness and make everything OK. This of course, is a fairy tale. We are not capable of being good for someone else, or truly loving someone else until we are good for ourselves, until we love ourselves. It’s unfair to place this expectation on another human being. We are all trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got on our journey, and it’s not fair to dump our shortcomings, insecurities, negative attitudes and unhealthy behaviors on someone else. I needed to do some pretty serious self-examination and work on developing positive thoughts, actions and behaviors before I could start cultivating positive and meaningful relationships in my life. It’s not right to place our expectation of happiness on someone else’s shoulders, and we’ll never find happiness if we continue living life this way.

My big breakthrough moment (which I will describe later) was very similar to the scene in Good Will Hunting, though it took many years to get there: my father’s suicide was not my fault, and there was nothing that I could have done. The past is over, and it was time to move on. Nobody can change their past, and I’m not trying to minimize what I experienced as a child or anything that you’ve experienced in your past, but this is now, and we have the choice, the power, and the responsibility to start moving forward. Our past does not dictate our future… Tomorrow is built on the choices we make today.

You’ll have an amazing sense of empowerment once you decide to stop blaming others, or circumstances that you had no control over, and start taking responsibility for the choices you make starting right now. You are free to make choices every day. You are free to choose to stay in unhealthy relationships and you are free to choose not to. You are free to choose with whom you will spend your time and what you will spend your time doing. You are free to choose to express yourself or ask for help when you feel overwhelmed and you are free to choose to isolate yourself and self-medicate. You are free to choose to go for a walk or a jog or a bike ride and you are free to choose to lay on the couch and watch TV. You are free to flip the guy off who just cut you off and lose your temper and you are free to take deep breath and let it go because you have no control over this person’s actions. You are free to make choices that will help you learn and grow and you are free to make choices that will keep you where you’re at in life. It starts by recognizing that you do have a choice in each moment – reflect on what the possible choices are and make a choice based on what you think would have the most positive and healthy outcome. I was free to keep getting wasted every day and running from my problems, and I was free to make the choice to seek help and look for answers. I chose to seek help and look for answers.

Despite the stigma that is somehow still attached, seeking help from a therapist doesn’t mean that you’re crazy. The goal of therapy is to provide a safe environment for an intimate relationship to develop. In this environment, you learn the skills needed to open yourself up and be vulnerable to someone else and discuss your fears and insecurities. Through this relationship, where the therapist is a professionally trained listener with the ability to empathize, you can feel free to discuss these things, and arrive at a place where you feel confident and secure enough to move forward in a healthy manner. The client / therapist relationship builds trust and helps you to develop communication and coping skills. In short, you are taught how to own and process your feelings. Therapy can be a very helpful thing for those of us who have experienced traumas that we have not yet processed. Building intimate relationships with others (not just romantic ones) can also be useful for these purposes, but therapy provides an unbiased, professional environment. If you are having trouble sustaining meaningful, intimate relationships with others I would strongly suggest looking into therapy. My life, attitude and relationships have all improved dramatically since.

Building a Foundation for Happiness
by Dennis Liegghio

Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses. ~George Washington Carver

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. ~ Jim Rohn

If it's never our fault, we can't take responsibility for it. If we can't take responsibility for it, we'll always be its victim. ~Richard Bach

 Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality. ~John W. Gardner

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