Taking Responsibility For a Change
An Article by David Cornfield
So, you think you want to change. It's not a mere coincidence that you are reading a magazine focused on self-
Okay. Think about something you want to change about yourself but can't get a handle on. It could be that you can't seem to pay your bills on time, or quit smoking or maintain an intimate relationship -
Being powerful involves making choices and taking responsibility for those choices. The victim stance denies responsibility for making choices. As such, it is a self-
This is not to suggest that you always have control over your destiny. In life's poker game, fate deals you certain cards and you have to play with them. Sometimes you get a lousy hand. Sometimes life puts you through an ordeal you are powerless to prevent. When this happens, your status as a victim is laid down by fate, not by stance. More frequently, success or failure is determined not by the hand you are dealt but by how you play a mix of good and bad cards. The victim by stance acts as though he or she is not in the game. They are innocent bystanders, observers not players. By denying their response-
If it is true that you choose to persist in your dysfunctional behaviour, then it is a cop out to say "I can't change ". The truth is, you won't change. At some level of your being you are choosing to stay stuck. You have reasons for your choice and, for now, those reasons feel more compelling than the reasons you give yourself for changing . Otherwise, you would be making different choices. Until you uncover and address those reasons, you will continue to make the same choices, and nothing will change. In the meantime, one way to start taking responsibility is to reframe your language. When you notice yourself saying "I can't", try substituting "I won't". See where it leads you.
Our choices are shaped by our wounds. The wounds we carry are too numerous and varied to catalogue. This one was neglected. He feels unloved and unlovable. That one was overprotected. She is frightened of the dangerous world she never learned to meet and overcome. In some way, our confidence and trust were damaged. We survived by becoming experts in living with our hurt. We learned to navigate the territory of our wound, and now we are reluctant to leave that behind to strike out into unfamiliar ground. The boy who was ignored learns to maximize the benefits associated with being invisible. As an adult, he may tell himself that he is tired of being neglected, but without noticing what he is doing, he heads for the shadows -
We hide our choices from others because they are embarrassing choices -
And because we are hiding our choices not just from others but also from ourselves, catching ourselves in our own denial is not highly recommended as a do-
We may also need a ritual. In the path of human development, there are discontinuous level changes where the individual is called upon to make a leap from one state of being to the next. One of the most significant of these is the passage from childhood to adulthood. In traditional societies, this transition was marked by a ritual of initiation. After an initiation, it was clear to everyone, including the initiate, that the time had come to give up childish things and act responsibly. In our modern society, rites of passage are increasingly forgotten and ignored. Lacking a ritual to transform the way we are seen by others and our own expectations of ourselves, it is easy for our young people to continue drifting in a never-
Our innate responsiveness to the challenges of life runs through us like a river. We can dam up the flow of our spontaneity, but only by blocking our energy and our emotions. When we deny our response-
Taking Responsibility for a Change was first published in Eye for the Future Magazine, May 1997
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