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Weekly Wellness Word: Responsibility

Monthly Theme: Self Responsibility & Love

This week's word is Responsibility. We all wear multiple hats: employee, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc. With each hat comes responsibility. Those responsibilities tend to pile up making our hats heavy to bear at times, particularly on those days when we are trying to walk around with five or six hats piled high.

Then life gets really complicated because we all have a habit, however unintentional, to grab the hats off of other people's heads or to allow others to give or force their hats on our heads. We take on the responsibilities of others for various reasons. The weight of the hats of others can become heavy, indeed, because we are trying to bear them in addition to our own.

Sometimes we find ourselves criticizing our hats. Why did I put this hat on in the first place? It is making me too hot. Why did I pick this color? I don't have anything in my wardrobe to match it. Sometimes we make passing comments about each other's hats. That hat is so sad. Look how droopy the brim is. It's filthy. Don't you ever wash that thing?

Take a moment this week to draw or list your various life hats. See if you can creatively describe or detail them. Notice the emotions they evoke within you: joy, contentment, stress, weariness, etc. Are any of the hats on your list not on the right head? Name the person who owns each hat. Was the hat taken or given by force or was it given willingly? Notice any language of blame that comes up in this process. What negative banter have you noticed between you and the other person about the misplaced hat? Consider how you might graciously put the hat back on the person to which it rightly belongs.

*Quote of the Week*

"Taking responsibility for choices...does not mean taking on blame. There is a big difference. With blame, you berate yourself for not being perfect, or burden yourself with guilt that creates more stress. In taking responsibility for a problem, you accept that while you may have intentionally engineered your present life situation, and you may, in truth, be able to point to this or that ‘external’ as a contributing factor, you alone are responsible for how you choose to respond to the situation. Regardless of how difficult the challenge that you are facing may be, if you can accept with love and compassion, that there is a lesson - even a gift - to be found, you can release blame and embrace the process.

This issue may be one of the most difficult ones you will encounter in learning how to increase your wellness. Blame and guilt get mixed in with responsibility from an early age. Having heard, at a tender age, an angry voice question ‘Who's responsible for this mess on the floor?’ you may intimately link the concept of responsibility with a message of blame. These connections may go so deep, and originate so early in your life, that the word ‘responsibility’ may carry some negative charge regardless of how conscious you become. Becoming aware of how such messages have been wired in your thinking will set the stage for change.”

- Wellness Workbook: How to Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality by John W. Travis, M.D. and Regina Sara Ryan

*Next Step*

When reflecting on the various hats you wear in life, did you notice that you are wearing a lot of hats that are not your own? If so, take a few moments to review the attached Rescuers Checklist. Completing this checklist can help you become aware of ways you may be rescuing people without realizing it.

*Further Information*

Does Self Compassion Mean Letting Yourself Off the Hook?

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