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After spending more than 30 years teaching Choice Theory and 10 years as the executive director of the Glasser Institute for Choice Theory – US, I have decided it’s time for a social movement. I am calling for a social movement that parallels the Serenity Prayer, but with a modern twist. It’s time for society to ban together rather than pull apart, and I believe it’s a cause that is bipartisan. I’m calling it Radical Responsibility and Awesome Appreciation. It embodies the Serenity Prayer, the principles of William Glasser’s Choice Theory psychology and John Demartini’s, The Breakthrough Experience, along with good old fashioned commonsense.
In everyone’s life, things can pretty much be divided into two categories: what you can control and what you can’t. For some unknown reason, we tend to shy away from our responsibility to manage the things we can control; instead, we often work diligently to change what we can’t change. This is what causes much of the misery we humans endure, and that misery is totally within our control to change.
Everyone needs to take up the cause and start living with radical responsibility and awesome appreciation. Start with the things you can control and have influence over. The one thing you have absolute control over is yourself—mainly what you do and what you think. No one can make you do something you don’t want to do. Don’t believe me? Try feeding a baby who doesn’t want to be fed. Sure, people can raise the cost so high that you will choose to do what they are asking. Because I want to live, put a gun to my head and I will do practically anything the person holding the gun asks. However, there is a choice. I can refuse.
At some point, you may encounter someone bigger, stronger and more committed who could physically force you into something you are not even participating in. Unfortunately, people can be forced or overpowered, but they are not making a choice. They are being victimized, and this can happen to anyone—you have no control over that. But everything else you do is a choice, and I’d bet it’s a choice you want to make. If you didn’t want to do it, you wouldn’t. I know this is a challenging concept to grasp because humans love to blame other people for what they do. It sounds like any variation of the following: “I really wanted to go to the party, but I couldn’t. My parents needed me at home.” “I can’t stand this job, but I have no choice. I have to make a living.” “Taking care of this family is a thankless job. Sometimes I wish I could just run away, but I couldn’t do that. You guys wouldn’t know what to do without me.” “I’m so tired of loving you and putting more into this relationship than you do.”
In each of those situations, the person speaking is blaming another person for the choices he or she made or continues to make. No one is to blame; you are 100 percent responsible for what you choose. You wanted to go to the party, but your parents needed you at home? What did you want out of that situation? Was it your parents’ approval or love? Was it a trade so you can have some freedom later? Whatever the reason, you chose to stay home—you, no one else. Stop putting responsibility for your decisions on someone else.
You hate your job but you have bills to pay? Why not instead say, “I’m so happy to have a job so I can pay my bills”? You may not love your particular job, but you can find another. You could quit. You have options, but you choose to continue to work there. Why? Because you like the idea of having heat in the winter, electricity in the dark and food on your table. Take responsibility for the choices you make.
Conversely, you want to also take radical responsibility for the choices you don’t make. Many times, we are faced with options we don’t choose, often out of fear of leaving our comfort zone. There is nothing wrong with this. Staying with the familiar and comfortable is always a choice. If it’s yours, own it. Stop trying to make it sound like you have no choice or were a victim of circumstances. Circumstances typically fall under the category of things you don’t have control over which will be the topic of next week’s blog.
If you are tired of taking care of an unappreciative family, why do you continue to do it? There is a reason. Perhaps it’s that you love them, or maybe you want to make life better for the people you care about. Whatever the reason, I know you have one or you would have left or stopped by now. Get in touch with the reason you do it, own it and take radical responsibility for your actions. Stop trying to guilt your family members into showing more appreciation for what you are gladly doing. If you genuinely want to stop, then stop. No one has a gun to your head. Are you doing it because you’re worried about what people would say if you didn’t? Then take responsibility for that.
If you are all in on radical responsibility, please type yes in the comments. I’m not ready to launch this movement yet until I’ve collected 100 names of people willing to take up arms in the cause. Let me know if you are one my 100 foot soldiers in the war against irresponsibility. Next week, we’ll talk about awesome appreciation.
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