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What Does Personal Responsibility Mean To You?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
September 24, 2012

Are negative feelings about taking personal responsibility limiting you?

Personal ResponsibiityWhat does the term 'responsibility' bring up for you? Following are some of the things my clients have said to me regarding what taking personal responsibility means to them:

  • Being burdened
  • Having to do things right
  • Not being able to have fun any more
  • Being tied down and trapped
  • Having to give myself up
  • Things being my fault

No one would want personal responsibility if it meant these things! But this is NOT what it means to me. My clients are generally quite surprised when I share with them what it means to me. Personal responsibility is:

The freedom and personal power to:

  • bring myself joy
  • compassionately manage my pain
  • open myself to learning
  • make my own choices
  • speak up for myself
  • choose my intent each moment
  • heal the past
  • be in the present moment
  • pursue my passions
  • manifest my gifts
  • be alone or be with others
  • come and go
  • change my mind
  • have fun

Obviously, for me, personal responsibility is about freedom and personal power - not about burden or being trapped or giving myself up or being at fault. It's not at all about having to do things right or not having fun. I think back on my childhood when I often didn't have the freedom or personal power to make my own choices, or to speak up for myself, or to pursue my passions and gifts, or to come and go according to my own wishes rather than my parents' wishes. The day I finally realized that it was not only my right, but my responsibility to take care of my own feelings was the day I started to feel free.

It's sad to me that 'responsibility' often carries with it a heavy, negative connotation. It's sad that parents often link 'responsibility' with 'fault.' It is the wounded self who goes to the defensive position of fault rather than to the learning position of responsibility. To me, fault implies wrong or bad, whereas responsibility implies accountability. I like being accountable for my choices and for the consequences of my choices, because this is where my learning and my freedom lie.

When we avoid taking emotional, physical, financial, relational, organizational and/or spiritual responsibility, we create much unhappiness for ourselves, and we put ourselves in the position of being a victim. To me, taking personal responsibility in all these areas takes me out of being a victim and into personal power and emotional freedom.

Many people continue to resist taking personal responsibility in one or more of the above areas, believing that personal responsibility limits them rather than enhancing their life. In fact, the opposite is true. For example, I eat extremely well, which means that I don't indulge in sugared, processed food and factory-farmed foods. You might think I would feel limited by my food choices, but I don't, because I love feeling great, having excellent health, and being able to have a high enough frequency to access my higher Guidance, which would be very limited if I ate poorly. So, rather than viewing taking physical responsibility as a limitation, I see it as expanding my opportunities for freedom, personal power and joy. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

Likewise, instead of feeling limited by taking responsibility to be organized regarding my time and space, my organization gives me the freedom to get everything done that I want to, and to also have time for fun and play, bringing balance into my life.

This freedom and rewards are true in all areas of personal responsibility. Try it – you might like it!

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

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Photo by Alexas Fotos



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