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1. Responsibility means ‘fault,’ and this sure ain’t my fault.
True, responsibility in daily conversations often has the meaning of ‘fault’ or ‘blame’ as in the statement: “This is your responsibility. You fix it!”— not exactly a compassionate statement of understanding and support. When we divert into the realm of blame and fault, we’re starting to think in terms of justice and retribution. Who is guilty of wrongdoing and going to pay for this atrocity? Who is at fault for the totality of the event? Who can I punish in order to restore the divine scales? So, if I was robbed, and someone asked what my responsibility was in the situation, I might startle at the question: “What do you mean?! I was ROBBED. Some jerk broke into my house, stole my stuff, and then left. How could you think this was my fault?” We might also struggle with a sense that we’re trying to double-victimize someone here, that they were the victim of an assault on their property, and now we’re asking them to take all the blame.
To the contrary, we’re not saying here that somehow the world is a cruel and wicked place, and we’re 100% responsible for whatever happens to us because we somehow didn’t prepare enough for the eventuality (“oh yeah, I got robbed and it’s my fault because I didn’t put bars on my windows, and I didn’t buy a guard dog, and I owned property in the first place, and I didn’t have a motion-tracking machine-gun turret to protect my house. You’re right, if I was a penniless monk, I could never be robbed again… so really it is my fault.”) Instead, we’re saying that we lack the power to change either the event itself (as the camera would see it) or the other person involved in the event.
What we do have the power to affect is our understanding of, and engagement with, that particular event in that present moment. No matter how much we dwell on the break-in and robbery, we’re not going to think that event out of existence – waking up and seeing all of our stolen stuff back in our house. Similarly, even if they catch the robber and put him/her in jail, we’re not going to be able to affect a change in his/her life directly. We cannot psychically invade his/her thoughts and get him/her to think and behave in a different fashion. What we can affect is our understanding and feelings around the event in the present moment. We can turn our focus to our feelings: sadness, anger, regret, mourning – and in turn we can focus on our needs: safety, order in our world, beauty. From there, we can recognize that we have the opportunity and power to affect our actions and feelings in the present moment. We can let go of those beliefs that invite us into anger and sadness: and we can call in those beliefs that bring us peace, wholeness and balance. In this, we’re recognizing our power to go forward through focusing on ourselves – what can we do for ourselves in this moment to support who we would like to be?
Maybe that involves letting go of an attachment to our property, or maybe that involves rethinking our ability to experience safety in this world – how can we still be safe in a world where there is home invasion? This particular path will look different for everyone depending on their needs (and here NVC can be helpful). And, what we’ve started to do is to take responsibility here – responsibility not in the sense of fault; responsibility in the sense of power and opportunity. We have power over our present actions, beliefs and feelings – and we can rewrite them to better serve us. Sometimes this may be an easy re-write, and sometimes it may be far more challenging. In both cases, it starts through shifting our focus – from the visions, realities and people that do not serve our needs, towards the stories, emotions and understandings that do serve us.
As a final frame, fault and blame are a double-edged sword: they cut both ways. If we seek to make an event the fault of someone else, we enter into a battle (usually with ourselves) in which we take up the position of judge. Whose fault is it? What part of the fault do I take? How much fault must the other person take? We cut ourselves in hoping to cut the other person. We always have the opportunity to put down the sword, to take off the mantle of judge, and to instead meet ourselves in Rumi’s field beyond right and wrong: where we encounter ourselves in love and power, rather than victimizing ourselves with cutting evaluations. True responsibility never involves fault or blame; it involves power and opportunity.
2. If I take 100% of the responsibility, then the other person takes 0%.
Yes, if there were 100% responsibility total available in a situation, then you ‘taking’ 100% would mean the other person only took 0%. However, the 100% mentioned in the title refers to the percentage of focus that you’re putting on yourself over the focus you’re putting on the other person. To this extent, you each have 100%, and it represents your focus and power in the situation. When you focus on the other person (or situation) you’re throwing away your power. So, if you take 60% responsibility in the event, then you’ve thrown 40% of your power and opportunity away. You’re saying that some things are currently under your control, but 40% of things will never, ever, change even though they should (you are powerless to think differently about them).
- ‘Responsibility’ is not something external to myself that I take a part of [the responsibility cake that I have a slice of!]
- Responsibility is internal measurement of focus – how much power am I giving myself, and how much am I throwing away?
- In any event, every participant has the opportunity to take 100% responsibility for themselves and their beliefs.
- There are as many 100% as there are people. You can only take your own 100% responsibility, you can’t take it from, nor give it to, anyone else involved – any part of the 100% that you don’t take, you throw away to the winds.
3. How do I advocate for, and create, change within a 100% responsible framework?
Ah, the impasse of change. If we’re walking through the world owning, understanding and living our contributions to, and opportunities in, the situations around us – then how can we possibly advocate change? In an odd way, it might seem that all change is about personal change – the altering of our perceptions that then allow the roses underfoot to become visible (hello Rumi!).
True, this is a component of the 100% responsible concept – and there is another element. Gandhi, for example, is famously quoted as saying “be the change you wish to see in the world.” A beautiful and 100% responsible quote – we look inwards to our change, focus on what we have control over, and hope that those internal changes radiate outwards from ourselves. Productively for this conversation, however, is the little fact that Gandhi never said “be the change you wish to see in the world.” The closest attributable statement we can find is this: “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” The nuance in this second statement is that change in the world is still a loose goal (more on ‘loose’ in a second). What Gandhi is speaking to here is that the world will run along the same habits until people start to change the ways they interact with those habits – in this example, as long as the people of India thought of themselves as Imperial subjects they would continue to be Imperial subjects. The first step towards creating a change in the world was creating a change in the way they interacted with the world. When the people of India began to think of themselves not as subjects but as sovereign individuals with desires and wants that existed outside the current scope of the British Empire, they began a revolution. The subsequent acts of the rebellion echoed out from this fundamental re-understanding of the relationship between India and England.
Now, in a basic understanding of 100% Responsibility, we might jump up and say “See! There are things in the world that are WRONG! The occupation of India by England was WRONG and the people of India needed to overthrow the tyrannical English government in order to achieve liberty, freedom and all those lovely good things that are so right and good!” And, in this declaration, we miss the ‘looseness’ of the goal mentioned above. Gandhi’s goals, life and outcomes are incredibly complex (he’s a human being after all!) – and to measure them against a single right/wrong dichotomy is to miss the various ways that Gandhi advocated for change. For example, Gandhi advocated for a free India characterized by a diversity of religion – and yet the religious fractionality of colonial India eventually led to the formation of Pakistan. What does this have to do with 100% Responsibility? Well, if we were holding tight to our definition of ‘change’ as ‘the creation of a religiously free and unified India’ then this solution would be bad/wrong – and Gandhi would have failed. Yet, he is still hailed informally as the Father of India and a great liberator. Why? Because the change itself was not based on rightness/wrongness – but on passion, advocacy, possibility and benefit.
To break away a bit from this exploration of Colonial India and mid-century Imperial politics, we can take this stance to the workplace. Let’s say you heard a bunch of your coworkers talking about another coworker and saying “Ugh… I hate Robin. Robin is so stupid! Who likes what she does ANYWAYS?!” How is this person avoiding a 100% responsibility stance? They’re focused externally on a problem ‘out there.’ How might they reframe this in terms of 100% responsibility?
First, they can focus on where they are located and what’s coming up for them – ‘Where am I not connecting to Robin?” “Where am I failing/refusing to see the value of her work? What (if anything) in her actions triggered something in you?
Second, they can focus on how they’ve contributed to the scenario. In what areas do they not know Robin / Robin’s work? Where might they have misunderstood Robin, their role, or their actions? Where have you potentially contributed to a larger culture that makes Robin ‘bad’ to other coworkers?
Third, we can advocate for change based in a sense of balance, understanding and 100% responsibility. Advocating means presenting your findings from the first two explorations – what’s coming up for you, and where have you contributed to the experience of others – and then proposing (loosely yet potentially passionately!) a solution or a series of solutions. Advocating differs from attachment in that someone might throw away your particular suggestion, and you remain passionate about a new change that may be different from your particular proposal. In this example, someone might say “Ok, we we like Robin…” and they may respond “Awesome. Ok, so what could we do that meets my desire for Robin and I to have a good work relationship that inspires everyone? Here, they’re pushing for a change – and they’re not attached to what that change looks like.
4. What about acts of violation? Rape / Murder / Physical Assault?
In testing the boundaries of 100% Responsibility, these examples often come up. One reason for this is that the acts all represent a moment in which the victim is victimized. We think of rape, murder and physical assault as the ultimate moment of powerlessness and victimhood: a person with a physical strength greater than mine (or through weakening me) imposed upon me a reality that I viscerally and powerfully would have rejected if I had the power. We may also be the recipients of second-hand trauma, when a loved one is taken from us through the act of murder, or viscerally harmed through physical assault or rape. For complete clarity, 100% responsibility never advocates that these acts are the ‘fault’ of the victim – never, never, never. The victim of a sexual or physical assault is not to blame for his/her assault; and the culture of blame, stigma and shame with regards to victimhood is toxic to the health of those individuals, and we believe, culture in general. With that clarity hopefully gained, let’s tip toe into how ‘100%’ interacts with these extreme moments of violation.
Victimhood as a state tends to focus on our lack of power in the particular moment: what we couldn’t do, what we couldn’t stop, how we couldn’t change what happened. 100% responsibility leaves the past to the past – it invites us to think through how we continue to make that past present for ourselves. What do we do, say or enact currently that is limited/restrained by our past?
Perspective 1: I was physically assaulted in a bar by this drunk guy. Without provocation, he struck me in the back of the head with his beer glass and knocked me unconscious. While unconscious, he kicked me in the ribs, breaking four of them before the other bar patrons pulled that person off of me and called an ambulance. During my recovery, I was unable to continue to practice climbing or Kempo because of my soreness. I gained 20 pounds in fat and lost some of the muscle-mass that I worked to maintain because of my love for climbing and Kempo. When I was finally able to return to those activities, I found myself at a considerable disadvantage – having to re-train myself and re-strengthen my muscles. After every disappointing session in the gym, I cursed that jerk who assaulted me in the bar – he took away my ability to climb to the level I was accustomed, and he stole my joy in those activities. More than that, he stole my peace of mind. I haven’t been back to a bar since that night, even when all of my friends invite me out. I’m terrified that after the months it took me to get better, another drunk bastard could take it all away again. My friends and I still hang out – we go to movies, we have game-nights, and we climb together when we can – but silently hanging over all of this is the night we don’t speak about. It’s like a small splinter in the relationships, and they all know about it too, but none of us talk about it. They don’t invite me out to the bars anymore because they see how I cringe at the suggestion. A few months ago, I missed my best-friend’s birthday celebration because it was a huge night out. Sure, I went out to dinner with everyone, but afterwards they went out to the bars, and I went back home in a cab. The entire ride home I was pissed off; here was another thing that guy ruined, all because he got drunk and decided to have a fight with a total stranger.
Perspective 2: About a year ago my best friend was assaulted in a bar. It was a shitty night, one spent in the emergency room wondering how bad this was all gonna be. I guess one of the few plusses was that it wasn’t that bad; I mean, it could have been a lot worse. Still, broken ribs and some cuts from the glass embedded in the back of his head, that’s not something I’d ever want to go through. It’s been rough since then too. He hasn’t wanted to go out; I don’t blame him. I’ve been nervous the few times I went out after that, wondering if something like that was going to happen to me. I mean the world can be pretty messed up; if it can happen to your friend, and it happens all the time, then it could happen to you too. My friend has also given up climbing mostly. Well, he still goes, but for a while he wasn’t able to do the same routes as us, and now, well, he just doesn’t like it as much as he used to. Still blames all the recovery and the physio; makes sense to me. Last week it was my birthday, he came to the dinner and it was cool to see him out with everyone, but he left afterwards and missed a great night out. Most other people don’t even invite him out now, kinda afraid he’ll bring up the whole story again. They’re a bit more tired of it than I am – they hope he’ll just get over it, but I keep reminding them that it was a messed up thing that happened to him, and it cost him a lot, so you can’t really blame him for it.
Perspective 3: So I knew this guy who got glassed in a bar a while back. Apparently he was just minding his business and this other guy just came up behind him and smashed the glass into his head, and then broke some ribs or something. I’m not sure, I’ve only heard about it from other people. This guy is really just an acquaintance; he used to be pretty cool, we’d go out drinking with some of the other guys. Sometimes we’d chat at house parties or whatever, and then we’d make plans for bigger, more awesome nights. Well now he’s just gotten a bit mopey. I mean, I understand and it sucks that he got all jacked up from that bar fight, but you can’t let stuff like that take over your life – I mean, he’s just such a buzzkill now. The second you bring up going to a bar or doing something he’s like “yeah, I got assaulted at a bar and now I can’t climb or do kempo…” you know, and I’m like “Oh yea man, sorry about that.” And suddenly I feel like the bad-guy because I was trying to make sure he was included in the plans. So yea, I just eventually stopped inviting him ‘cause you gotta get over that stuff and he’s just dragging it out. I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but bad stuff happens.
Analyzing the Story
This is the moment just before responsibility: the moment where we’ve reached a dead-end with our current understandings. The person in our story above has few options: continue on, resentful of his past; ‘get over it’ – forget and forgive; push those away who ‘don’t understand’ and take the comfort that best-friends can give. These options may be palatable, and eventually they fail to excite and enliven. We see the effects in the jackals of the acquaintance – the failure to understand that leads to an unwillingness to understand. Eventually, the acquaintance’s need for ease trumps his desire for connection and celebration – so he dirtily moves away from our main character. The best-friend is similarly distancing himself from the pain, though he self-jackals and, in the ‘shoulds’ surrounding his role as friend [I should be understanding / I should be comforting] he validates his best friend’s story around the event in the bar. Finally, our main character, trapped in a spiral of resentment, sadness and blame. The unfairness of the event is still present for him, on a daily basis, and he lacks the ability and desire to confront the continuation of that story. And, without the knowledge of how to take responsibility and power in these situations, our main character isn’t able to make a change – he’s coping in the ways available to him.
So, where could he go with responsibility, if that way of thinking were introduced to him? Well, he could connect with today – what’s happening to him today? What decisions did he make today that didn’t seem like choices to him? Said another way, if our main character chose to not go out to the bars tonight, did he understand the choice there, or was it a forgone conclusion: another thing lost to the assault? Likely, he thought the second option, that his choice and power were taken away from him somehow – stolen in that past moment. And, we can make a change here in the way we think about the present: tonight he has a choice – to go out, or to stay in. The choice itself is unimportant – choosing to stay in, or choosing to go out: both are equally powerful – what is important is that the choice is treated as a choice: a moment where our main character enacts his power and his will to make an informed decision. Sure, he may choose to stay in, and recognizing that as his choice – storying it not as the legacy of a long-ago bar event, but as the contemporary decision to stay home – that is the first step to responsibility. From there, the possibilities multiply, because they are no longer restrained by the story that the guy in the bar with the glass controls our decisions in the present. If the character chooses to not go to the birthday party, let that be his choice, and not a forgone conclusion – there is responsibility at last!
Feelings are the next opportunity in responsibility – how I choose to engage with a given situation. Yes, our character holds sadness around not being able to climb at the same level as before the incident. And, this sadness can exist alongside an appreciation for relearning the skills; or a re-connection with the communal aspect of climbing, in addition to the mastery of a skill. Our protagonist ultimately has the choice – to argue and rage at the event in the past, or to hold sadness, appreciation, excitement and maybe even joy in the present. If the main character wishes to experience joy and connection when he climbs, then it seems the path towards that is to again, leave the past in the past, while recognizing the options of our present.
In these meditations, we’ve avoided the position of the ‘acquaintance’ in the third passage. 100% responsibility is never about ‘getting over it’ or ‘forgetting it’ – it’s about leaving the past where it belongs, and appreciating the echoes of those events without giving them power over us. It’s about realizing that our choices in the present are open; yes, they can be informed by our past, and we are shaped by those events, and our present is ever-changing and full of new chances to take 100% of our power.
5. The big weights (Rape / Murder / Assault) invalidate the small weights (Daily Slights / Minor Theft / Rude Comments)
On a daily basis, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be utilizing the 100% responsibility framework to deal with murder, rape or physical assault. More likely, we’re going to be working through issues of less wait: work-load (what’s your responsibility for the amount of work you’re doing daily?) and issues of blame/shame and emotions (i.e., reframing “she’s making my life miserable” (0% responsible) to “I haven’t cultivated a way to find peace in her presence” (100% responsible)). Thinking about the heavier weights is helpful in testing out our personal limits of engaging with a concept, and the potential conceptual limits. And, to get to a place where the concept of 100% responsibility proves useful in these more difficult situations of rape, murder, etc. we need to start by lifting the smaller weights every day. If we try to jump straight towards rewriting advanced forms of trauma, we’ll likely find the weight far too heavy. Yet, by slowly practicing on small moments where we find our focus drifting to external factors rather than internal factors (“damn, it’s so freakin hot today! I hate that sun” becoming “wow, I’m not experiencing coolness right now, and I value that kind of comfort”), we’ll be able to slowly shift our overall mentality towards one that allows us to better meet increasingly greater challenges.
Again, it isn’t about acquiescence, or rolling over, or blind acceptance. It’s about this present moment, right now, and what choices you have, which may include moving into air conditioning or dumping water over your head. 🙂
100% responsibility will support you during the weighty problems, and it has even helped many people reframe traumatic experiences of their past. They have affirmed that, in thinking about these situations, they now experience a greater sense of power and possibility. And, those who utilize the 100% responsible mentality on a daily basis have similarly found a greater sense of ease, peace and power in the minute-by-minute of life. These individuals are empowered to ask “what possibility do I wish to live into, regardless of the past or what is going on in my present?” To end with a reiteration, 100% responsibility is another exercise to cultivate and build our power to affect change in our lives through the simple (yet complex!) act of thinking and restory-ing. In conjunction with YSL, NVC and Forgiveness, 100% Responsibility enables us to lift the light weights of personal power every day, in hopes of cultivating the mental space to meet the heavier challenges with grace.
6. Does everyone have the same internal capacity for choice?
Well, it’s a spectrum. The beauty here is that everyone has an internal capacity for choice. ‘How much’ differs from person-to-person, time-to-time. Growing up in a toxic environment without emotional coaching, for example, reduces a person’s capacity for choice and taking 100% Responsibility at any one moment.
This is critical to acknowledge, and not as a victim. Our capacity is something we can guess at, and train (like through mindfulness) but can’t necessarily know.
Yes, we want to be keenly aware of this. Yes, we want to support people in taking as much Responsibility/Choice as they can (always a guessing game). Yes, we want to offer aid to those who struggle beyond the capacity to reach/grasp choice. Yes, we want to be aware that someone with enormous privilege may yet struggle with 100% Responsibility. Yes, we want to notice that each situation/choice has nuance and context to it; someone normally adept at 100% R at work, may be poor at it with their intimate partner, for example.
And, yes, we want to be aware (without should or righteousness or “be tough”) that even drug-addicted child-soldiers in Africa that have killed dozens of people can graduate Harvard with a law degree. And, that a billionaire can get divorced from his wife for failing at that relationship.
100% Responsibility does NOT argue that all external choices are available to you; it DOES offer that you have the capacity to make the most powerful choice you’re capable of in terms of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. What line are you willing to draw in the sand for yourself/others? How sure are you that that is where the line really is?
Why Not Take 100% Responsibility?
- Short term pain over long-term gain is as seductive as Vegas gambling, and pays out about the same.
- Like the Soul Nature document notes, when people are not up to something significant in their lives, shortcuts are a useful way of being.
- Yes, one can be happy without being 100% responsible, indeed quite happy. Generally, like happiness itself, the more resources you have up to a point, the easier it is to take less responsibility and be happy.
- Most people believe they are above average
- Similarly, people believe themselves to be exceptionally responsible, and acting in near-perfect integrity (self-serving bias).
More Questions and Answers
The sticky wicket is that one would need to be CERTAIN of “God’s” will in order to be certain that one did not have a full (or any) range of choice. If there is even a nanometer of doubt in that certainty, then there is all the room needed to take 100% responsibility, remembering that responsibility here is equivalent to being at choice/cause for oneself (not anyone else). If there is even a nanometer of doubt that one may have gotten even a smidge of God’s will incorrect/discernment error, then that is all the room needed to take 100% responsibility. If God has presented you with one choice, and no options, then how you think, feel, and act are entirely puppet like. The mind (thoughts and feelings) and actions of others bear no weight on one taking 100% responsibility.
Whether you choose gratitude or indignation or frustration is up, ENTIRELY, to you.
If God gave, or did not give, you something, you have 100% responsibility in how you view that boon or bane.
There isn’t an objective measure, as that is likely through someone else’s eyes, and 100% responsibility is only through one’s own eyes. My guess is that when starting out, what stands for 100% is a pretty small bubble, and that increases in size/volume exponentially as one exercises that muscle. After several years, the vastness one considers as available options is like Everest to the ant.
What happens outside of you is information/data for your consideration. In that consideration, you would maintain the belief that you are 100% responsible for your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
You may imagine another course of action you could have taken that might have made a difference, and mourn that you didn’t take it. Asking the question, “Why do I feel responsible?” likely leads your attention outside of yourself. And, you’re always responsible,100% of the time. 🙂 Again, you did not cause global warming, the war in Syria, famine in Sudan, or racial disparities. Nor is there a”right” answer in what you do choose in your responsibility, as that implies a morality, and 100% responsibility is amoral. You may, for example, choose to recycle, turn off lights, buy a hybrid, work for what you believe is social justice, or the opposite of all of that.
The key is your understanding/belief that you have choices, and are free to make them. How those choices work out (in your mind alone) are fodder for your continued thoughts, feelings, and subsequent actions. When you feel restrained by outside circumstances/people, it is an invitation to examine what choices you have available to you. When you have the sense that you are not making a powerful, free choice irregardless of others, then you are taking less responsibility / have less choice / are at effect instead of cause.
Not every physical/action choice is available to you. For example, if you were chained to the floor, the choice of running isn’t available. 100% responsibility does not assert that every choice is available to you, but rather that you have choice amongst options (which are nearly always far greater than you imagine they are). You may examine how it came to be that you were chained to the floor, and the exhaustive chain (ha ha) of events that lead to such an outcome; at each stage/step, you had choices that may have (very likely) resulted in a different outcome than the one you are experiencing.
Yes, you’re not physically moving in that moment, but should you survive being chained to the floor, you future options will become more numerous, as you examined your range of choices across a wide history of events/options. And, chained to the floor, you can imagine numerous Hollywood-esque options for the most pressing problem. 😉
The word “responsibility” in the idea has some inherent confusion associated with it, as people often think of responsibility as outside oneself, like taking responsibility for another/others. The responsibility, absolutely, is for your actions, not the (re)actions of others.
Your mother took responsibility for her actions to meet her need for cleanliness, contribution, integrity, whatever. She can make anything her problem, or not, and that is an important freedom (100% responsibility) to recognize. Likewise, she could choose frustration, curiosity, anger, guilt, depression, sadness, or a myriad of other feelings based on the information/data of your choices. Were she to believe her specific feelings were tied (to any degree) to your actions, then she loses ultimate responsibility, and thus power, and thus choice. Your mother, for example, could have CHOSEN (100% responsible for her choices, knowing other options were always available to her) the action of controlling what you wore, frustration around that act, and the belief (thought) that you were bad as a result of your actions (information).
You can only lose when you assign some percentage of responsibility for another, for when you do, you are very likely to assign yourself something less than 100% responsibility for your thoughts/feelings/actions.
Importantly, although 100% Responsibility and Effectiveness are related, they are not necessarily causal — a cascading series of poor choices could result in destitution, loss of love, or loss of life. You are taking responsibility for your choice, not the result of your choice. If your action doesn’t result in the outcome you were HOPING for, then you can make a new choice to refine your aim/choices for a better chance of achieving your goal/outcome/desire.
Your taking responsibility for the choice that you made is independent of the outcomes, assuming you made the best choice you could have made at the time. Making a poor choice when you knew you had a better choice available to you is taking less responsibility. Ideally, one would examine/learn from the long chain of choices that lead up to the current choice, but that strategy isn’t necessary to take 100% responsibility in the moment.
You can take 100% responsibility for your inaction, and mourn that choice, and know that you can make a different choice in this moment. Were you to believe you could not have made a choice other than the one you did, then you slip away from 100% responsibility; there is never a single choice available.
To be more clear about responsibility for the result of your choice, you would take that responsibility in that you might imagine other choices you could have made that might have resulted in a different outcome you would have enjoyed more. Such a path can dangerously occupy the Jackal or self-flagellation, believing you are Wrong with a capital W, rather than human and perhaps choosing remorse/regret/forgiveness.
And, beating oneself up for making a poor choice is optional and unnecessary, although common.
And, you’re not magical — you can’t control everything that happens in the world.
Dividing up how responsible (how much choice you have) you are in the domains of feelings, thoughts, and actions independently may be instructive in where your attention/learning/power stands to be improved. Otherwise, the result is less than 100% overall, and thin slicing it is unlikely to yield your taking greater responsibility for your choices. Recognizing that you are, or are not, free is likely all that is needed. Any degree less than 100% is a vertical cliff away from responsibility.
Nothing wrong with the “dark” or “bright” side, and 100% Responsibility doesn’t argue for either one — it supports choice, not happy or sad choice. One could readily chose a path that brings great sadness or pain, and willingly do so.
And, no one practices 100% Resp. 100% of the time. It is a striving, not a destination.
Asking “Why” is a dangerous question/beginning to inquiry, as Why Questions are often directed outwards — “why did __(something external)__ cause me to think/feel/act in this/some manner?” A similar one is “I feel/think/act in this way because . . .”
In both cases, the ability to freely chose one’s feelings/thoughts/actions is likely usurped by something outside of ourselves. The closer one comes to a true wondering, and gathering of information, the higher quality the Why question is.
The victim perspective suggests that phrases like “I have a bad temper! I’m Italian!” or “He was hitting on my girlfriend! What could I do?” are acceptable times to ignore the space between stimulus and response.
Remember: What am I not able to do that other people can do? Are all Italian’s going to act in the same manner? What would your mentor/hero do?
Generally, the more one examines their independent choices around how they are choosing to feel, think, and act, the more power they will have available to them, and the more choices they accordingly afford themselves. Such a “simple” commitment is one of the most transformative orientations a person can make. Every element of one’s life takes on deeper colors that reach more areas on one’s life, as well as the lives of others. The ideas of “Makes me” or “I feel/think/act BECAUSE. . . (instead of freely choose)” disappear, and the onus of actions/reactions centers in oneself.