Taking 1% Responsibility
Today we are going to talk about taking 1% responsibility this one actually, is one of my favorites because it was the hardest for me to learn. But it’s one of the most important that I wish to share. And I’m sprinkling in some personal stories. But I want to get started with this as being one of the hurdles of grief. Because we have this incorrect belief that other people or events are responsible for our feelings, we might say things like so and so made me so angry, or so and so ruined my day. I think all of us could say this about COVID right now, couldn’t we? Actually just told someone today that they had asked if I had taken a vacation or went away on vacation and I said: “Nope, COVID ruined those plans,” which COVID did. But the only thing I have control over and the only thing you have control over when it comes to COVID is our reaction to it. And I’m pretty sure we all agree that there are a lot of people not handling it very well. And as a result, treating other people quite poorly, actually which is incredibly unfortunate. But this brings my whole point in this episode of why this is so important for us to understand as it applies to grief. Because as the whole world replies and responds and reacts to this pandemic, we’re all responding differently.
Many of us, myself included, have a really difficult time taking ownership and how we react and how we feel about it, right? Another comment that people might say is, if so and so hadn’t done such and such to me, I would be okay. Like you did this. Now I feel this way. These are very common responses. And when it comes to grief, this is what keeps us stuck. When we don’t take responsibility for our feelings and our actions we suffer. And this influenced learning, you guessed it begins in childhood. As I’ve talked about before and several of the previous episodes, what we learn in childhood about grief is what we resort to when we are adults. So as children, If dad or mom said to you, you make me so happy, or you make me proud or don’t make your father mad. I heard that one many times. So what we learn in growing up as children and hearing these things, is that the actions that we take cause the feelings of others. And if I can make them feel something, then they can make me feel something. And I bet you’re just like, oh yeah, you’re listening to this and you’re like that’s so true, because it is, it is so true. And this keeps us stuck in this victim mentality.
I have a whole chapter about victim mentality in my self-published book, the guided heart moving through grief and finding spiritual solace, which I published in 2017. And it’s on Amazon if you’re interested. But I have a whole chapter devoted to this because it was truly a huge struggle for me. And at times, I find it can be still, Eleanor Roosevelt has said: “No one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission,” and I wholeheartedly agree. But growing up in hearing these messages and growing up and not understanding, as an eight-year-old child, when I lost my father, how to process those feelings and then really had been a difficult child, in a way, because I cried a lot. Actually, my family got together recently and my brother said to me, “You cried a lot.” And, I did. I think I was truly a very sad child. And I would go to hide to cry. Because it was shameful; I felt ashamed for crying, for having the feelings I had. And that’s why I wanted to hide them. I didn’t feel safe expressing those feelings. We give all of our personal power away when we allow others or events to be 100% responsible for our feelings. And in doing this, we also make them responsible, are those events responsible for ending those feelings as well, for making us feel better, or for making the situation right in our own minds, right? Like, we look to that person, then, to fix it. Like, “you screwed up, you made me feel this way. And now you need to fix it.”
Grief Keep Us Stuck
And in loss, we may reflect back on all of the things through our childhood, or young adulthood, depending on the loss that occurred. And think back at all of that, what we feel are offenses that were done towards us to make us feel a certain way. And we will continue to look at that person that they need to fix this. They need to own what they did. What happens if they never do? What do you do, then, if you are hanging your happiness hat on what someone else does or the way someone else responds to your pain that you feel they inflicted, that’s a lot of power you’re giving away, folks, when you realize that that’s never gonna happen. You either then accept it and move on and process those feelings. But if you are not able to do that, you’re stuck in emotional jail. And this is why grief can keep us stuck.
Let me give you an example to illustrate this point a little bit further. So let’s say someone is sitting at a red light. And I’ve done this I’m sure you have to where you kind of daydreaming and not really paying attention to the light. Well, then it changes. And that person behind you just blares their horn and you get startled and what do you do right away? What is your knee-jerk reaction? Are you going to roll down your window and say hey thanks, thanks for letting me know the light changed, I was just daydreaming, or you likely going to give them the bird in the rearview or curse under your breath? It’s more likely the latter. We are the architects of our own discomfort. And we fail to recognize that we are responsible for the feelings that result from our attitudes and actions. Let me ask you another question. What ruins the picnic, the rain, or our reaction to the rain? You cannot do anything about the rain. However, what you do have control over is your reaction to it. The same is true for almost all losses. For example, losing my father – what was causing my grief? Was it the loss or my reaction to the loss over the course of the next 30 years? Well, it was both. And although I couldn’t undo what had happened, I could do something about my reaction to it. And I’ll tell you what, it took me 30 years, more than 30 years, to do something about it. And for a lot of years prior to that most of those years actually. I felt like a victim. I felt like a victim of that loss. I felt like a victim to the circumstances that I was then after that loss, I felt stuck. I was absolutely stuck in my grave.
But what we can do is we can acquire skills to help us complete our relationship to the pain and the heartache caused by what happened. You see, over time, we develop all of this influenced learning. We develop an automatic critical response toward others or circumstances that we hold responsible for our feelings. So rather than examining ourselves, which I was not doing to be honest, until grief recovery. I take that back, about 2014 when I started to really dive into personal development that’s when I really started to do some self-examination. But prior to that, I had that critical response where I was examining the thoughts and behaviors, and actions of others who I held responsible for my happiness.
When it comes to the past, we can only control our current reaction. Otherwise, we will forever feel like a victim. We sustain and recreate the pain of the past through our own memories as well. People may say, “let it go move on, you can’t change the past.” However, they are likely holding on to the same belief system about personal responsibility that you care about something in their life, nothing changes until you take responsibility for your recovery. And so the idea is to take 1% responsibility, which can open your head and your heart to a new way of thinking and challenge those old worn-out belief systems and patterns of behavior that are keeping you stuck in your grief.
The Power of Choice
So the next time you find yourself in traffic, and you feel yourself just boiling up with emotional anger, consider that you have the power of choice at that moment, or at any other time that there is a stimulus. And you have a thought, which then leads to a feeling and then to a reaction or an action that you’ll take. Think of that loop? The stimulus, thought, feeling, action loop, and think about this podcast episode. How do you get off that loop? How do you get off the hamster wheel of being and feeling like a victim to the circumstances and to the other people in your life who make you feel a certain way, where you believe, make you feel a certain way.
My husband has a favorite phrase that he uses and says to our kids, he’ll say: “There is no such thing as try; you either do or you don’t.”And I would like to say that we can also apply this to grief that we either take 1% responsibility or we don’t. But we very much can try, right? It’s recognizing when we’re on that loop of stimulus, thought, feeling, action, loop, that is not serving us that is keeping us stuck in these old thoughts and patterns and behaviors. That keeps us stuck in certain relationships. Think about this episode. As you move about your day, the circumstances that come across your path, the people that perhaps influence your feelings throughout the day. And know that if you’re allowing that to dictate your feelings, even the rest of the day, we can have something happened to us at eight in the morning and it can do rail us the entire day. I experienced this. I know what it’s like. I know, I get it. It’s life in general. It’s not easy. I totally get it. But to have the awareness when we are stuck in that pattern. That’s when we can change how we respond and react.
P.S. Catch all episodes of Grieving Voices HERE or on your preferred platform HERE. Check me out on Instagram @theunleashedheart. If you liked this episode, please share it because, sharing is caring 💛 Much love, my friend.
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