We’ve all likely heard the saying that “You’re responsible for your own happiness.” It likely makes sense on an intellectual level, but how many of us actually embrace this?
If we’re responsible for our own happiness, that means we take responsibility for how we’re feeling–with ANY emotion.
But when we were younger, we learned the opposite from adults and even in school. We hear adults say, “You hurt Jimmy’s feelings. Say sorry!” or “Did she hurt your feelings by doing that?” And we’d likely think that “Yes, she hurt my feelings by doing that.”
Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
What’s really going on is that we’re making what someone else says or does mean something about ourselves. We’re basically agreeing with what they said or did, which is the only way something can hurt us—if we let it. If we think it’s somehow true about us or if we somehow deserve it.
Again, intellectually, this may make some sense. Living it and practicing it can be harder though, because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we cause other people’s feelings and that other people cause ours.
But we know from the Model that our thoughts create our feelings. It’s not the external circumstance that creates our feelings, even though it’s so easy to think that the circumstance is causing us to feel something. It’s what we’re thinking about the circumstance that creates our feelings. Our thinking creates our feelings.
So in that sense, we can see how we ARE responsible for what we feel. Once we really become aware that this is how it works, we can be intentional about how we want to feel. Which means being intentional about how we are thinking.
I think some of us have a misconception that someone else is supposed to help our lives be great. When we relinquish ourselves from taking this responsibility, who do we think it belongs to?
I used to want someone to come save me from my life when I was feeling dissatisfied and like things were missing from my life.
You know what was missing from my life? ME. I wanted someone else to take the responsibility that is mine, to help my life become better than it was. To create more income for me, to find opportunities for me, to find a partner for me, to find a place for me to live, to help me eat healthy meals, to take care of me. How could someone else do this if I wasn’t willing to do it for myself?
No one is going to do it for us. No one is going to live our lives for us. That’s our responsibility. We get to take care of ourselves and our lives. Intentionally.
We have everything we need within us to take responsibility.
And that is great news. Because then we realize we can have the exact life we want when we take responsibility for creating it and caring for ourselves along the way. Intentionally.
Your turn: What have you been giving responsibility to someone or something else to fulfill for you? Are you willing to take responsibility for this? How might your life be different if you started taking even more responsibility for what you want? How might your life be different if you practiced intentional self-care?
Dive Deeper: Do you feel any resistance to the idea of taking responsibility in this way? If yes, why? What if those thoughts are just limiting beliefs about what’s possible for you?
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What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.