Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Taking responsibility and freeing your mind.

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to listen to a presentation made by a renowned author and ex-military man.  It wasn't a motivational speaking seminar, but he spoke on a variety of topics.

One thing he said really resonated with me.  He said that we always have a choice in every single situation.    He also said every choice has some consequence, positive or negative.  Take the example of someone asking you to go somewhere or do something that you don't really want to do.

You have a choice.  If you really don't want to go, don't.  Of course, this may have some consequences that you'll need to weigh.

On the other hand, if you do decide to go, take responsibility and go with an open and positive mind.

Where we get in trouble is in the middle ground.  We go, but we're resentful and negative, and we blame the other person for 'making' us go.  This negative attitude means you have a rotten time and chances are you'll ruin the other person's time as well.

The message is simple.  Go or don't go.  But take responsibility either way.  If you do decide to go, let go of all the negative energy and thoughts.  You never know, with an open mind, you might even enjoy yourself.  Some people live their lives blaming external factors, people and circumstances for their woes. This perpetuates the notion that we are living a helpless existence.  Taking responsibility and realizing that you've made a choice is very freeing and often opens you up to new and positive experiences.  It also frees you to live in the moment.

Food for thought.


  1. Interesting. When I studied some psychology we learnt about 'locus of control'. This is a personality trait and your locus of control can either be internal or external. This affects the way you perceive events and governs your behaviour and reactions. If you have an internal locus of control then you generally feel in control of events around you and are willing to take responsibility for your behaviour and choices in life. If you have an external locus of control then you have a more fatalistic attitude and blame others when things go wrong. It may be that people with an external locus of control have more difficulty taking responsibility for the consequences of their decisions. To what extent an individual can change their locus of control I don't know. Here's a link:

  2. Quite insightful post. The end struck me as very Buddhist - we are responsible for our own suffering through our perception of a given situation. Thanks for the post, it really makes me think.

  3. Sue, thanks for the information. It seems very much aligned with what I'm talking about. I also am reminded of a friend and coworker of mine and his attitude. A few years back, we were working a traditional work week and it was a long weekend, with us having Friday off. Thursday afternoon, an hour before the end of our shift, we were called out to an emergency. I was complaining a bit and other people were downright miserable. My buddy was running around excitedly, happy as anything, making jokes and being excited.

    Later I asked him why he was so happy about it. He looked at me and said he wasn't happy, but since we didn't have a choice (other than quitting), what was the point of being miserable? It turned my attitude right around and I've never forgotten the lesson. The rest of the day was far more pleasant when I wasn't lost in pity and wasting my time thinking about how I didn't want to be there.

  4. Yamabushi,

    The concepts that were brought up definitely have elements of Buddhism in it. And it doesn't end there either. There are parallels in a variety of beliefs, faiths and attitudes. So many things really are as good (or bad) as you make them.