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Helena Önneby

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When You Take Responsibility, You Access the Power That You Need

The first and most important step I took on my own healing journey was to take back responsibility for my own health, my life and my choices. I had, for so many years, tried to delegate that responsibility to other people (my doctors) that had neither interest nor ability to take that responsibility. 

I’m responsible for my thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. Other adults are responsible for what’s theirs. And something really beautiful happens when we assume that responsibility, when we get into the driver’s seat in our own life; we access our power. When I became CEO of my own life, I reclaimed the power and could therefor see, and feel, the strength I possessed. I was no longer a victim to my circumstances.   

I believe this is a choice we all need to make. To stay in victim mentality and blame everyone else or resume responsibility and power in our own lives. This doesn’t mean that it’s not okay to sometimes feel sorry for ourselves, that life isn’t hard or that we don’t need each other. It just means that we take full responsibility for our lives and our needs, also when things are hard. 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space, therein lies your freedom.” 
– paraphrase from the book A Mans Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl. 

In the book “A man’s search for meaning”, Viktor E Frankl gives testament of his experiences from the concentrations camps during World War II. He lost almost everything; his family, belongings and his physical freedom. He didn’t know whether he’d survive the day or not and he had very little opportunity to influence his situation. 

But he realized something, in himself and in some of his fellow prisoners, an ability to use the small space between what happened to him and how he reacted to it. He also witnessed that those who could use that little piece of freedom that was available in that space where better off. For him, it was noticing the sun on his face, forgiving those who hurt him, feeling gratitude for the little food he got or helping his fellowmen when he could. 

The circumstances in the concentration camps are of course extreme but they serve a good example. If Viktor could find a way to choose his response to what happened to him, maybe we can too. 

When I became CEO in my own life, I also realized who I needed around me, in my “management team”, to be as well as I could. It meant, for example, firing one my doctors and hiring a good therapist. I needed to look at my friendships and make sure I had the best possible cheerleaders supporting me. 

Your life is a consequence of many small choices that you make every day. You decide on those choices. You can’t control everything that happens around you, but you can choose perspective and how you respond. Is the unpleasant bus driver there to lower your mood or can you choose empathy and give them a warm smile instead? Is it the fault of the politicians that your life looks the way it looks or can you find a perspective that helps you make the most out of your circumstances? 

When we leave victim mentality behind and take full responsibility for our lives, we access so much power and strength. We also realize that we create our own lives and can change much more than we might think. And what we can’t change we can accept. 

“What I can’t change I can accept. And what I can accept is already changed.”
– Tomas Andersson Wij 

In what way can you take a little more responsibility for your life today? 

This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.

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