This made me think about how I approach personal responsibility. I mean, there was no one I could blame for my accident. I simply did not look where I was clicking and then continued to brazenly click. (This was also before my coffee, so I wasn't at the top of my game, obviously.)
In situations where you are the only person working behind the scenes, personal responsibility gets tested. Repeatedly. No one else is responsible for writing and posting on my blog. No one else is responsible for maintaining my website. If I flounder or fail, the consequences fall squarely on my shoulders. In the same manner, if I succeed, then my hard work and investment pays off and I reap the benefits.
...but it's never that simple.
Life circumstances vary so widely that they are impossible to categorize, and they do have a significant affect on our personalities, our social status, our decision-making processes. However, there are a few key traits that distinguish a select few people from the rest of the "pack" in terms of personal responsibility. As a student of these people, I desire to learn from them and apply their principles to my daily life so that I, too, might be a good example to others around me.
Until we understand that we have a choice, we will desire these characteristics without being able to obtain them. When we begin to choose to accept responsibility, however, these characteristics will begin to grow and flourish and become apparent to those around us.
Think about that.
What does it mean to lie to yourself? Does it mean you procrastinate on everything, don't show up when you're expected, and never call? Does it mean you half-ass stuff because you're too scared to just say "no"? Does it mean that you believe awful lies about how you are incompetent and ugly because someone else has always told you that? Or maybe you just can't control your urges and you hide them instead. People who lie to themselves are insecure. They are untested youths. They don't purposefully put themselves out there because they can't be completely honest with anyone if they aren't honest with themselves first. They know they aren't up for the task at hand, and yet they can't bring themselves to own their faults, their mis-steps, their awkwardness.
In order to earn someone's trust, you have to be solidly transparent, like those glass blocks they sometimes use in weird middle-school decorative architecture (prominent in my adolescence).
- You have to be willing to share the things inside you, even if they're sometimes ugly. Sometimes that's the only way to get those things out.
- You have to be willing to give genuine praise to the people who earned it instead of garnering all the attention for yourself.
- You have to be willing to admit that you have faults that you can do nothing about.
- You have to learn to be aware of, to discipline, and to love yourself first, so that you can choose responsibility and behave wisely.
- You have to learn that you don't HOLD the light, that it shines THROUGH you. You are merely a reflector.
- You have to learn how to stand and how to be still both externally, and internally, spiritually, mentally.
At first, everything is new. Confidence is shaky. "We don't know what we're doing. Maybe we're doing things wrong! What happens if we mess up?" Eventually everything falls into place. By the time number 2 comes along, we can (and have) changed diapers in the pitch dark while half asleep. We have dropped everything (and maybe the baby, too!) on the ground at least once and forgot to wipe it off. We have discovered that there is no set rule for parenting. We're so confident now, that we start telling other people what to do. It's amazing what a couple of years of child-rearing will do to your confidence around tiny children. Why is this?
It's because confidence is a mixture of two things, experience and faith. Our experiences teach us how to handle situations and our experiences show us that faith is sufficient when we don't have enough experience in handling certain situations. In short, our circumstantial experiences provide us with a base of confidence. We can then, begin to draw on that confidence even when the circumstance we are facing isn't paralleled by a previous experience.
If we do not take responsibility for ourselves, then we are discarding heaps of useful experiences. We are throwing our confidence out the window because we think it is too hard to care for it. We pass blame to others and totally disregard our own character in favor of our distorted perception of ourselves. How do we avoid this trap of irresponsibility?
- You must be willing to step up when other people won't. You must be willing to stand alone.
- You must value an experience or a process for its character-building qualities, not for its immediate reward.
- You must be aware of the status quo. Then you must be aware that you have to do more. Then you must do it.
- You must be understanding. Other people are not your competitors, your foes. You are your only true competitor.
- You make choices every day. You must learn to make choices with direction, otherwise you will be swimming in circles every day of your life.
People who are acquainted with suffering understand the genuine need for empathy, for generosity of spirit. People who have suffered and remembered the difficulties are often the first to offer help when they see others struggling. People who are proud can never be truly generous. They will always be looking for their own gain, even in their own acts of feigned generosity.
People who are genuinely generous, who realize that their personal choices are of their own making will never demand or even contemplate restitution from the object of their generosity. They are willing to give for giving's sake. Generous people are willing to treat you better than they would treat themselves, they are willing to give things up for you, and ask nothing in return. They don't hide secret motives and try to manipulate with their gifts, they give unconditionally.
- You have to realize that every person has a story, much of it hidden, and that every person is valuable. We never know the entire story, especially if we hardly know the person's name.
- You have to understand that adding value to other people is the best way to add value to yourself.
- Being generous is rarely about money. It's about willingness to offer what you have available to give.
- Generosity is a state of being, a way of living your life, a mentality.