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October 13, 2015

It Might Not Be Your Fault, But It’s Still Your Responsibility

I originally wrote this as a guest post for my friend Diane, owner of Living the Goddess Life, but I loved the message so much that I wanted to make sure you got a chance to read it, too.

Today I want to talk about responsibility and why taking 100% responsibility for every single thing that happens in your life is a complete game-changer.

Working with women like Diane in my annual Best of You Coaching Club is easy because these gals are simply the most self-sufficient and least complaining group of women I’ve ever encountered. They own their choices, take action and navigate the consequences—good and bad.

It’s a complete joy for me.

But not all of us are like that. In fact, most of my adult life I played the “victim role” more than I care to admit—blaming and complaining, defending and deflecting. I felt like life was happening to me, and that I had very little say in what was going on.

As you can imagine, this is a frustrating and helpless place to live.

Because the way I see it, there are two kinds of people: those who blame everything on things/people/circumstances outside themselves, and those who tend to turn inward and ask, what can I do to help myself in this situation?

This is tough, and most of us take the easy route of blaming and complaining, because it’s a natural, human behavior. We all do it.

And in a way, it’s actually not our fault. In her short narrative, ‘The Neuroscience of Change,’ PhD, Stanford professor and author Kelly McGonigal calls this our “default brain.” It’s the way we act as humans when there is zero introspection, mental evolution or personal development work. We tend to feel like we have very little say in what goes on in our lives, so we’d better batten down the hatches, play defense and grow that chip on our shoulder. Besides, it’s easier to react than to be proactive.

But, it’s that same mentality that keeps us small, scared, insecure and well, not doing much of anything except … playing defense.

The opposite approach would be to play offense. The opposite approach would be to go out, take a good look at our current situation and decide what actions we can make, despite our circumstances. Not wallow in self-pity because of them.

Here’s an example, and I know many of you gals will resonate with this …

As you know, I spent years of my life doing figure competitions and fitness modeling, and at the time, I played the victim role up to completion. If I didn’t place in my show, it was because the judges had a vendetta against me, or someone else was getting special treatment, or there were “politics” involved, or because my coach was incompetent, and hurry up, I NEED ANOTHER COACH WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING!

My mental broken record sounded like this: Not fair. Not fair. NOT FAIR.

And yet, here I was … doing these shows! Choosing to put myself in a position where I was being judged for my body up on stage with a dozen other ladies who worked just as hard as I did (duh). I went in knowing there’d be a chance that I wouldn’t win (duh) and yet, when I didn’t, it was everyone else’s fault. Not mine. I deflected. Resisted taking responsibility.

Another example: dieting.

Whenever I was “dieting,” everyone else seemingly had it easier than I did. “Oh, must be nice for them, these regular people, they can eat whatever they want! And here I am stuck with this dry chicken and asparagus. Ugh.” Or, “No one understands what I’m going through. No one understands how hard this is for me.”

Hello. Were these not my own choices? To do these shows? Choices that I could have, at any time, changed? How does complaining about choices that I actually have control over help me get better? It certainly doesn’t help me mentally, and I know it affected my compliance.

If you are constantly reminding yourself how hard it all is, and how bad you have it, don’t be surprised when it’s really hard and you have a bad time.

The alternative is assuming radical responsibility—owning your choices, and more importantly, owning the consequences of those choices.

Because it’s easy to be excited about doing something, but what about when that something doesn’t go as planned? Who’s to blame? Could you consider that when you take on—really and truly own—everything that happens to you, around you, in your sphere … that you are at your MOST powerful?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling helpless. I don’t like feeling like things are happening and I have no say. And the fastest way to get back into your power is action. Action IN THE FACE of anything that is going on … and here’s the kicker … even if it’s actually not your fault!

Because taking 100% responsibility for your life is not about assuming blame necessarily, because sometimes we’re not to blame for certain things transpiring. Someone else might have done something that affected us. Okay, fine. But now what? We can’t ever truly control outcomes, but what we can always control is our attitude and our effort.

We can control our response, even when we’re not the cause of the problem. If it’s affecting us, it’s our problem and we owe it to ourselves to do something. To take action and put ourselves back in our power.

I love this quote by Sheryl Strayed, author of ‘Wild’: “This is not your responsibility but it is your problem.”

And I would go so far as to say it is your responsibility. Because it’s affecting your life.

You can’t wait on other people to take responsibility, even if, from your perspective, they should. Just because you shouldn’t have to deal with something, doesn’t change the fact that for your own sense of peace, you need to.

But I get it. We’re human and we want fairness. We want people to do what we’d do in their situation. But they don’t always. And waiting around and wishing and hoping (and kicking and screaming) that people will do what you need to them to do so that you can finally be happy is a lazy approach.

I don’t know about you, but the idea that I need someone else to be a certain way so that I can be happy just doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want that kind of dependency.

And so you see, if the goal is happiness and effectiveness and getting shit done, then the ONLY solution is 100% radical responsibility on our part. In every situation. Whether we caused it or just ended up in it because it was the luck of the draw.

Start choosing action over complaining. Start choosing introspection instead of deflection. Start choosing accountability instead of defense.

And watch as your sense of power, your outcomes and your success reach new heights.

All you have to do is … some internal work and swallow that pride a little. Because when it comes down to it, ego is just insecurity. It’s the resistance to look our own BS in the face and call ourselves out.

Start overcoming your fear of looking inside. Start taking a look at your BS and uncovering your own insecurities. We all have them, and most people are too scared to acknowledge them. But once you do, you see that you are human and you have a say in how things go. Like Brene Brown says, “Shame cannot survive being exposed.” So you see, once you call yourself out, you can start getting better.

This process is magical. It’s transformative. And it’s a complete game-changing mindset shift.

If you’re ready to take full responsibility and learn to retrain your mind to one of success, happiness and body freedom, then grab your spot in my 10-Week Mindset Makeover course that’s currently open for enrollment one last time.  

It’s a no-brainer. Tons of stories, examples, insights and tools, delivered over email for 10 weeks.


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