Step 2: Taking 100% Responsibility for Healing

I never thought I would sound like my Mama, but here I go… if you want more freedom and autonomy, you have to be willing to take on the responsibilities that come with it. Did you ever hear that one? I rolled my eyes then, but damn it if she wasn't right!

Step 2: Taking 100% Responsibility in healing from past run-of-the-mill childhood traumas is crucial to becoming fully empowered actualized emotionally mature adults. Hmmm… for a moment, adulting sounded kind of boring, but I suppose only for the parts of me that take comfort in the drama of suffering unnecessarily. But, since you've read this far, I'm going to guess you're at least curious about this mature adult thing. So, what exactly does it mean to be responsible? And what are we responsible for?

Good ole' Mr. Webster defines responsibility as accountability for something within one's power or control. Let's pause for a moment around this phrase in the definition "within one's power or control." What is within one's power? Tis' the age-old question pondered in the serenity prayer:

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (like the past and other people), courage to change the things that I can (like my mind), and wisdom to know the difference."- Niebuhr (plus my additions)

Here's the deal… we do not have control over everything that happens to us, but we do have the power to determine how we process what happened/ happens. We are responsible for what we believe, think, feel, say, and do because although we might not think so at the moment, we can control our minds (where all the decisions are going down). We are NOT responsible for what other people believe, think, feel, say or do because although you might think so at the moment, we cannot control their minds. Plus, other people don't tend to like that very much. For you parents out there, because our children are actually other people who just happen to be under our care, we are only partially responsible for them because, on a good day, we can only partially control them.

So responsibility goes hand in hand with power and control, which is precisely why taking 100% responsibility for healing from our past is so damn empowering. Go us! I'm most definitely not suggesting this is easy. First of all, we have to convince ourselves we actually have control over what we believe, think, feel, say, and do. I suspect most of us can give a nod to being able to control our words and actions, except perhaps when we're triggered (which I'll cover in a moment), but the rest of it. Mmmmm. Not so sure. It usually feels like our mind is the boss of us, and all we can do is hold on for the ride.

The mind appears to be the boss because we reinforce what we believe with what we think and feel, and this loop becomes habituated. This is especially true when we get triggered. A trigger is a highly sensitive hyper-vigilant response rooted in a past painful experience that led us to adopt painful beliefs about ourselves, relationships, and/or the world.

Remember, as children, we thought the world revolved around us. We rightfully felt entitled to love, care, and security. When those things weren't given freely or in the way we needed/wanted, we tended to take it personally:

"I must not be lovable."

"I must not be worthy."

"I must not be important."

"I must not be enough."

When one of these suckers is "triggered," we get reactive and out of control. We feel justified in our feelings, making it super easy to blame the person or situation that activated us. We are not only victims of our past, but now the present too! We are convinced without a doubt it is the other person causing us to feel unlovable, unimportant, unworthy. And as this proves the accuracy of our painful beliefs, it makes it less likely we will question them. That's some crazy stuff!

As humans, we crave sovereignty, yet we also tend to sabotage it. Blame is the way we give our power to others and then pretend they took it. So, why do we do it? There is a sweet innocent lil' place inside us that still wishes the original hurt never happened and can be undone. This part of us seeks validation in others, praying they will prove us wrong, but they never do. They can't! Because we are the only ones who can change our minds.

In summary, taking 100% responsibility for healing is about reclaiming our power from the past. It's a hero's journey every actualized emotionally mature adult must take for themselves. Coming up next in Step 3, I'll share some practices and inner resources we can develop to control our pesky minds for the better. But first thing is first; we have to acknowledge that healing is an inside job and 100% our responsibility. More soon!


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