Personal Responsibility is the Answer to a Better Tomorrow

Introduction

Some of my readers may know that I graduated college in December 2015. I went in as single mom in my mid 30’s and graduated right before I turned 40. Recently, I have been re-organizing my work space and started reading some of my olde papers. This piece was one of my first college papers. The quote below came from the reading I did for this paper. I am so grateful for the experience, because it has given me so much more to bring to the world.

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Personal Responsibility is the Answer to a Better Tomorrow

“Violence teaches only violence. Stress teaches only stress. If you clean up your mental environment, we’ll clean up our physical one much more quickly. That’s how it works,” Byron Katie states in “The World Doesn’t Need to Be Saved” Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World (191). Why are fear tactics being used to create changes in the world? Why is there such an attraction to pointing fingers outward instead of looking at what oneself is personally responsible for? Many people are willing to point the finger at government, schools, churches, and organizations, but the problem is having someone else to blame. We are a global community, and we all must take personal responsibility in order to change our selves, our community, and our environment for the better.

The first step is to take responsibility for one’s self. This is where it all begins. The media, politicians, family, and people who surround a person play a big part in how he or she sees the world. Many of these sources teach people that the responsibility of their problems is someone else’s fault. There is always enough blame to go around. The answer is in not focusing on who is to blame. My mother taught me, “Nobody can make you feel anything.” She demanded personal responsibility for my actions, choices, and feelings. If I reacted out of anger, it is not the other person’s fault. There is only one place to look for blame and that is in the mirror. One must choose to live a life empowered by choices over being victim of others. In this realization there is compassion, love, acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, and gratitude. In “Embodying Change” Cheryl Pallant states, “We see how the world ‘out there’ filters and reflects our inner world; conversely, our inner world impacts the outer world. The two are intimately twine” (187).

Who am I to judge the “outer world” that I created? What does my “outer world” say about how I live? Personal responsibility starts with self. When people get to this place they start operating from a place of awareness. They start to see the facts and see how their actions contribute to the problem. This leads an individual to acceptance of where he or she is right now. Only when the first two elements are accomplished action can be taken. This action is guided by a place of calm. Each individual is empowered because changing is his or her choice. This is how it is possible to attract others to one’s cause. People can be inspired from a positive place or a negative place. A loving place is the only way a loving change will occur. Energy will just get lost in the toxic fumes of one’s emotions if the path of fear is chosen.

The next step is personal responsibility in community. Every living thing is a part of a global community. Everything on this planet has a part to play. A few examples of life that contributes naturally are plants, trees, bacteria, animals, and microorganisms. Humans start life contributing naturally, but then all the outside contributors come in creating separation from the natural world and other people. This is the beginning of the conflict with community. When a person separates themselves from others, he or she creates one party as right and one party as wrong. The power of community comes from awareness that every person on the planet has at least one thing in common, every one lives on the Earth together. The more similarities that are looked for, the more that can be found. This creates a much larger community.

The next part in the process is to accept the differences of the other community members. No one on this planet is perfect. Each person may teach a wonderful lesson if others can look at the contribution with love. Even people who some might be judged a “horrible human-being” has contributed something to the planet.   People may think he or she is bad, but the lessons of compassion, empathy, sympathy, strength, courage, and love that come from what the person has done have purpose. Accepting does not mean agreeing with. It simply means the reality of the situation is known, and the only thing to do is to feel the feelings that come with it. This is when action comes into play. Something bad happened, but it brought a community together. Now, what can that community do to contribute to changes for the better? There are examples of this in churches, schools, support groups, and housing developments. All of these environments create amazing opportunities for community. The things that are accomplished when people work together are astounding. Things can go one way and create division among others or create so much love and expanded community. Those are the moments tears are brought to the eyes of many as they watch people and communities showing up for people who are hurting.

The more communities a person can become a part of without judgment of others, the more positive action comes from the community. The devastation that came to the US on September 11, 2001, is an example of this. After the event occurred, a beautiful community formed united in the healing from the event. Many people reached out from all over the world and stopped caring about the things that separated each other. Each person had a choice to be a part of this community or not. It is one’s personal responsibility to make the choice on being a part of the global community. Every person on the planet is invited. This community excludes no one. It is something we all have in common. Making the choice to be a part of a community is something a person has to feel drawn to, or the purpose it is meant to serve gets distorted.

The final area of personal responsibility is to the environment. This falls into place naturally when the other two areas are surrounded by energies that join people together instead of create separation. The more a person cares for self, the more he/ she cares for the community, and the more he/ she cares for the planet. Once the mental chaos has seized in the brain, it creates empowered thinking, and the environment gets cleaned up. An example of this is when I recently took a walk on the beach, and I cleared my head. The whole walk down the beach, I was angry, and I saw nothing. On the way back, my head was cleared, and now I was able to see there were things I could do. I picked up liter on the way back and when I got to the parking lot, I threw it out. I did not judge the people who tossed it down. I did not expect someone else to pick it up. I just did it. It was my job because I was there, and I saw it. That was all. If I see a problem and I have the ability to do something to fix it, my personal responsibility is to fix it.

Some groups think that the answer is in creating fear of the earth’s demise in order to get people to do what they want. This belief points fingers and deflects responsibility. Personal responsibility is the way to protect our planet. How is the change centered will determine which way it goes. Changes will continuously happen on the planet. The only question that a person needs to ask his or her self is, “What is my part?” The answer is, “If it is in front of me, it is my part.”

As a global community, personal responsibility has to come back to each individual. The focus needs to be on what the person in the mirror can do. Katie writes, “The most attractive thing about the Buddha was that he saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save; when he saved himself, he saved the whole world” (190). A chain reaction starts with one person, turns into a community, and changes the world.

Works Cited

Katie, Byron. “The World Doesn’t Need to Be Saved.” Keogh 188-192.

Keogh, Martin ed. Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World.t Berkley: North Atlantic Books, 2010. Print.

Pallant, Cheryl. “Embodying Change.” Keogh 183-187.

I hope you enjoyed the piece. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

BLAME, BLAME GO AWAY!

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If you knew that blaming is what is keeping you from being happy, would you stop doing it? Well, it is. I’m not saying this is easy to change. We have become a society full of blamers. Constantly pushing the blame to somebody/something else while the problems sit and grow. I love that definition of insanity that says, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Blame is one of those vicious cycles that it is easy to get caught up in, even if we know better.

Blame is destroying us in so many ways. We use it to destroy  our relationships, ourselves, our families, our communities, and our humanity.  It is hard to find working solutions when all we see is the problem and who is at fault. When we feel the need to be right, we don’t even listen to the concerns on the other side. Our minds are closed and we start a war. Things get ugly and nothing gets resolved. All we are being taught is to feed the fire and blame more.

Blaming equals disrespect. We all know it subconsciously, which is why our defenses  can go flying up and we become ready for a fight. Nobody wants to feel disrespected, ignored, and unimportant. The funny thing is we do it to ourselves more than anyone else. How many times have we gone against ourselves, our beliefs, our self-care, our peace, and our happiness? If we are not showing ourselves value and respect, how are we expected to give it somebody else?

In my teenage years, I stopped learning to blame other people for my feelings, actions, reactions, and thoughts. The problem was I put the finger on me and BLAMED myself. Blame is destructive whether it is pointed outward or inward. Even going into my adult years, I thought I was doing it right. I couldn’t understand why I still wasn’t happy, and still falling into negative patterns. I turned such a critical finger on myself that it created a monster festering inside me.

I kept trying to make things better on the outside. I had no idea the havoc that was going on the inside. I acted out in so many different ways. I had no idea the kind of harm I was causing. I still was blaming things like alcohol, drugs, work, cars, name the object, I could blame it. I didn’t realize the blame was making me blind to the truth. I had to explore the unpaved trails to learn what was real. The only way to do it, is to be aware and  watch where we place your feet. Our missteps may hurt, but they can teach us a better way.

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I didn’t learn until much later in life that it isn’t about blame at all. It is about taking responsibility for my actions, making positive changes, and then letting it go. I am only responsible for my part. Figuring out what that is can be tricky, especially when the situation is extreme. Byron Katie taught me how to take responsibility without turning it into self-abuse. I have been shown so many different ways to look at a situation through her videos and books,  which you can find by searching her name on the internet. Her work gives me the tools to get out of the vicious blame cycle. I’m not happy there. I don’t like the way it feels when I have to be right to the point where I’m in a constant internal argument in my head with someone who isn’t there. I’m letting someone else’s path wreak havoc on my peace. When I become aware that I’m doing it, I have the opportunity to change it.

Getting away from blame is a process. I stopped beating myself up when I get caught up in it. I acknowledge how I participated in it, and I pray for the awareness to catch it sooner next time. If  I can take an action to change the situation, I do it. Writing is one of the ways I use, sharing pieces that spread compassion, passing on positive messages, being apart of love in action, volunteering, or simply becoming aware of when when we are participating in the blame game all helps to spread seeds for change. Whatever we choose to do in a more loving and compassionate way is contributing towards finding solutions. How we want to live our life is a choice we each need to make as individuals. What other people choose is not our business. They have their own journey. We can hope and pray that they find happiness and peace within themselves. When we know that we want peace and happiness in our own lives and commit to becoming aware of the times we stray from it, life will get better. When we find peace within, we won’t stir up chaos outside of ourselves. We will start seeing what is working, what is beautiful, and what is real. There is nothing real in chaos, just hurt and ego.

My awareness helps me to see and accept my responsibility and change faster. The lessons become less dramatic, and easier to spot.  As I have grown, I am able to see clearer, live happier, and as Byron Katie says, “Be a lover of what is.”

Wishing you all internal peace and outward gratitude,

Rachael Wolff

 

 

Why Did I Choose Him?

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“The unloving person continues to blame bad luck or a series of external factors for their not having a loving relationship. Love can only be attracted by and returned by love.”

-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, The Power of Intention: Learning to Co-create Your World Your Way p.204-205

One night, I was lying in my bed, the tears would not stop coming. I kept asking myself: Why do I keep ending up with these guys who treat me like shit? Why do I keep falling for the traps, when I see the red flags flying from a mile away? Why do I keep ignoring what my friends and family already see? After around thirty years of dating, I finally  got it. I was getting exactly what I asked for. Who would ask for this? Me. The real question is why?

Even though, I have read plenty of books on the laws of attraction and have seen it work a million times, I somehow overlooked how it worked the same way in my relationships with men. One of the key steps in attracting the things we want in life is to focus on the affirmative. That means stay away from thoughts and statements about what I don’t want. If I say, “I don’t want another addict” my thoughts are lining up with that next addict while I think that very thought. It may be a different type of addict, but guaranteed he will come into my life in some way, shape, or form.

When I didn’t believe in myself, I chose men who didn’t believe in themselves and who didn’t believe in me. They couldn’t, we were together because we both agreed not to believe in ourselves. Neither one of us could give what we didn’t have.

When I didn’t want to look at myself, I chose people who were looking to avoid themselves too. I would assign myself the role of fixing their life, and they would in turn try to fix mine or they would play the child role and let me act more like a parent.

When I was abusing myself physically, emotionally or mentally, I chose partners who would treat me the same way. My personal journey does not include physical abuse in the form of hitting, but in the form of physical self-care, or I should say, lack of care. My most severe abuse to myself was emotional and mental, which is why I projected that out in the majority of my relationships. An amazing thing happened when I changed the abusive thoughts about myself, I stopped attracting people who would reflect them back to me. I was even able to stop the pattern in a relationship that built itself around the abuse. The relationship didn’t last long after that, because as I got healthier our paths no longer connected, and the road split.

If you are anything like me, you’re asking, “OK I get it, but how do I stop doing it?”

These are the steps I took in order to put my thinking right to attract the person I TRULY wanted in my life:

  1. I wrote a list of all the things I wanted in a relationship. I was clear and specific about the partner I was looking for. I only used positive terms. Here are a few examples: Lives a healthy lifestyle, is active, is adventurous, is spontaneous, uses actions to show he cares, respects me, loves my kids, shows up for me.
  2. I became everything on my list for myself. I used the premise of Byron Katie’s “the turn around” to stop projecting what I wanted onto others and “turn it around” to me. I knew that if I wanted it in a partner, I needed to become it for myself first. Once I had my list, the tools were easy to find. I found tons of books on every subject I needed to work on, I watched videos and seminars on-line, I took notes, I attended AL-ANON, I found the right friends, and I opened my eyes to all the signs leading me in the right direction.
  3. I fell in love with myself. It was amazing how this worked. I started playing out my list and living the way I wanted to with a partner. I started to go on more adventures, engage with my kids more, become more active, talk to myself in a loving way, and the list went on. Life became beautiful.
  4. I stopped Looking! Once I became the list, I stopped looking for a man. I wasn’t missing anything in my life. My life was full and wonderful. I was happy, my children were happy, I had no complaints about the way my life looked. This was it, I was content.
  5. I opened my doors. When I first stopped looking, I thought, “This is it! This is what I want, I don’t want a man in my life. I love this freedom!” It took a little while until I opened my doors and said, “OK, if there is a person out there that could fit into my life, I will allow them in”.

Little did I know, I had already put the positive energy out there and would be getting what I asked for in a very surprising way. I had no idea that simple request for information about fishing would turn into my best adventure yet. My relationship now is exactly what I TRULY want. I respect myself, and he respects me. I take care of myself, and he takes care of himself and we work as team to take care of each other. I still feel free to be exactly who I am.

I recently went back to the list I wrote almost three years ago, and I am completely amazed how far I have come. It is possible! Invest the time in yourself and watch the miracles happen.

If this post helped you, check out my full blog: From A Loving Place. Each post offers the tools I used to transform my life. Take what feels right, and leave the rest behind. Have a transformative day!

Photo Credit: Rachael Wolff

 

 

Embrace the Breakdown

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When I was 17, I struggled with severe depression.  I could send myself into a tailspin within seconds. It got so bad that I agreed to be admitted into a hospital to get help. I used to believe that it was only going to get worse, and that there was no hope in my future.  There was a period of time that I’m surprised I survived.

This was the time frame that I learned to embrace the breakdown. Like many others, I used to do anything I could to avoid the breakdown, but learning to embrace it made me see breakdowns as good things. I wasn’t going to hit an emotional bottom. I was going to break through a barrier that was holding me back.  It is empowering to be in charge and  head down a downward to have a break through. I say I’m getting ready for a  growth spurt. The bigger the spiral, the bigger the growth spurt.  Learning this skill did not keep me from experiencing dark times, but it helped me see that the dark times would pass as soon as I got what I was meant to get out of the situation. A lesson could take a day, month and sometimes longer. It really depended on how stubborn I was being and how tight I was holding on to the problem.

Growth spurts are what I call my emotional break throughs that lead me to better places. I  usually have something great happen after one of my breakdown to break through episodes. After I embrace the breakdown, which is feeling all the feelings that are going through me. Sometimes I am hit with a lot, all at once. Those are my category 4 hurricanes. Next, I look at the situation from other perspectives. I’m not going to lie, I had a great role model for this part. We lovingly refer to my mom as “Pollyanna”. She modeled the skill of looking at things from a much brighter and less sinister angle. I remember getting so annoyed when I wanted to stay in a bad mood. Eventually, I came around and realized it wasn’t that bad. It’s funny watching my kids’ reactions when I do it to them. The best part is, they have now started to keep me on track too when I slip. After that, I look at the lessons in what’s causing me stress, anxiety, and/or depression.

In my early thirties, I was introduced to the work of Byron Katie. A friend gave me a CD series called, Making Your Thoughts Work for You By Dr. Wayne Dyer and Byron Katie. I had already done a lot of work on this, but her methods are truly amazing and easy to use. There are tons of videos out there of her work. Her method is brilliant. She even has an easy to use worksheet on her website. Katie’s way of looking at a perspective is a tool I use on a regular basis when I get triggered by anybodies actions or words. For the parents out there it is a great tool and a great way of life to teach children. It gives us great tools to see our children clearly and teaches them to take personal responsibility, while not getting caught up in what my mom calls, “awful-izing”. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but just like anything else it plants a seed.  When they are ready, it will grow.

Another thing that works for me was suggested  by my first sponsor in AL-ANON. She said to stand on a chair and look at the room from a different angle, then do your daily routines in a different order. My favorite was to change the order I put my foot in my underwear. I had to literally put a note in my underwear drawer to remind me to get out of my head and make different choices. I’m in my head a lot! I am one of those people who have to do a lot of work to get out of my head. I love hiking off-trail to help me with that one. When I have to pay attention for sticks, snakes, and direction, my mind stays clear!

I have worked with a lot of people on the topic of personal growth and I can share a couple of observations about what has kept myself and others in the vicious spin cycle longer.

  1. We try to run away from it using people, places, or things. I have used the busy world of doing, relationships with my children, family, and friends to keep me distracted from looking at myself. I have seen others use excess alcohol and drugs. In my experience, it never works to solve problems. Create problems, YES! Solve problem, No! I learned that when I feel over emotional about something I avoid alcohol completely or keep it to one glass of red wine in a relaxing environment. The relaxing environment part is essential.
  2. There is something about the chaos that makes us feel comfortable. Here’s an example: I used to be in a relationship with a lot of yelling and name calling. I was always on edge. I never knew what was going to come next. The reason it was comfortable to me is because it was what I experienced as a child watching my parents’ relationship. There was a normalcy in it. It took a lot longer to break that pattern than it did others. I had to consciously study healthy relationships and surround myself with friends in healthy relationships.

I’m sure there are other reasons, but for me, these are the ones that always stand out.  Don’t be scared to feel everything that comes up. This can take time. This is not a quick fix. If it doesn’t work, go deeper. In the beginning for category 4 breakdowns it would take me a month or longer to get through it all, and some days were downright ugly. As I have practiced the skills and have learned to spot warning signs, I can tend to get through the process in about a day. But, not all the time. Around three years ago, one of my breakthroughs was from a failed relationship that was a carried pattern of many failed relationships. I had tried before to go deep, but it obviously wasn’t deep enough. I had to deal with childhood shame that was buried deep down. That took a lot of time and tears to get through. If there is shame involved, face it. If there is guilt involved, forgive yourself. If there is anxiety involved, get present. Anxiety comes from fears of future, and future in not predictable (at least for most of us). If there is anger, forgive them. Don’t forgive for the other person, forgiveness is personal. Repeat the mantra, “Breakdown to break through, breakdown to break through!” I will share my break through reading list soon.  First, I have to do some digging.

Most importantly, treat yourself kindly from a loving place. It has been said many times by many different people, “We are our worst critics.” We are all doing the best we can with the tools we have been given. You deserve love and compassion just as much as all the people around you.  Cry, scream, let it out! Stop running and embrace the breakdown.

 

From a Loving Place Introduction

The most attractive thing about the Buddha was that he saved one person: himself. That’s all he needed to save; when he saved himself, he saved the whole world.

-Byron Katie, Hope Beneath Our Feet p. 190

Hi, my name is Rachael. I am a single mother approaching 40 (and I mean within months). I’ve spent the last 4 1/2 years earning my degree in Human Development. In my first course in college I read the quote above ,and I felt like I finally learned the secret to an abundant life. I have one of those pasts that gives a long lists of reasons to be miserable, but I have chosen to not let my past to be in vain.

My life has been a series of lessons that have strengthened me and made me who I am now. My past has helped me show compassion and understanding for others who are having a hard time finding their way. It has given me space to be less judgmental and remember what it is like to struggle. Overall, my past has made me a better person. This is because I do not let shame and guilt way me down. This was a process and it cannot happen overnight. I had a friend once brought my attention to the fact that it took me over thirty years to get sick of my warped way of thinking. It takes time to undue patterns that I have survived on and built walls with. I need to take down the walls one brick at a time.

Why did I decide to write a blog? One, I want to stay on the right track. By writing, I will keep reminding myself of how blessed my life has become because of all my realizations. Two, if there is even one person out there that my journey helps, then I am fulfilling my purpose. Lastly, I love to write. I plan on sharing not only the things that have worked to make my life better, but also my darkness and how I let it stop dragging me down. I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, when I am feeling alone reading about tools to get me out of it, I can sometimes feel more alone. Logically, I know what to do and how to get me out of the chaos. The problem is that when we are down in it, logic does not apply. The connection from our emotions to logic has a short. No matter how much I have learned, I can always get to that place, and no one should feel alone there.

This blog is about how I save myself and my journey to show up to life from a loving place.