I want to journal some thoughts I had this morning about my own personal responsibility.
- the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.
- the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.
- the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization.
- of, affecting, or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else.
- of or concerning one's private life, relationships, and emotions rather than matters connected with one's public or professional career.
Personal Responsibility (composite definition from what resonates with me from the previous two):
- having a duty to deal with something affecting or belonging to a particular person rather than to anyone else.
- being accountable for one's emotions
- making decisions concerning one's private life, relationships and emotions without authorization
I often feel like a victim (a person harmed or injured as a result of an event or action). Sometimes, once I've simmered in that mindset for awhile, I'm inspired to change external systems (society, culture, organizations, institutions, politics, government, etc). Other times, I'm inspired to change internal systems (how I process my emotions, feelings, thoughts and behaviors). Today, I was inspired by the story of William James, and thought to myself as he once did: I will spend the next year or so assuming 100% personal responsibility for my life, regardless of the situation. In the past, this mindset would have spiraled me into self-doubt and self-pity, but given the emotional maturity I've gained over the past year I feel empowered, inspired and hopeful. I can't take any responsibility for others' actions, behaviors or feelings, or full responsibility for collaborative endeavors, but I can take responsibility for what I have to contribute to my circumstance. I don't know how much that amounts to, but it's enough to make an impact on my life.
The psychological regions that open up with this mindset feel liberating---I can choose what I spend my time on, who I spend it with, and how I spend it. But that requires me to first gain clarity on what is important to me and what I find interesting. While some thought about this is useful, actions and behaviors are more effective. How much thought is enough? I think about my purpose in life until the first inspiring thought comes to mind. At that point, I stop thinking and pursue the corresponding action and I usually end up spending time on something interesting, which is usually a good sign that it's important to me. I can't always articulate why it's important, but I know that if I feel satisfaction, clarity and freedom, I'm on the right path. I repeat this process and over time find a purposeful life taking shape. Sometimes I lie to myself, and pursue an action to achieve validation from others instead of achieving satisfaction from within. Even these pursuits are informative, and eventually the charade becomes exhausting and I return to my search for self-meaning.