Benefits: Learn to identify the “things” you are actually responsible for.
So That You Can: Meet your Esteem needs and live the fulfilling life you were meant to live.
Go From Inspiration to Action With the Worksheet Below!
Are You Taking Responsibility When You Don't Need To?
You need to take responsibility for your actions. You need to take responsibility for your choices. You need to take responsibility for your life!
You’ve heard all of this before, right? And, if you’re like me, you don’t need to hear these messages again. You already know how important taking responsibility is. In fact, you’ve managed to turn taking responsibility into an Olympic event.
We are the people who not only take responsibility for ourselves, we take on the burden of responsibility for everyone and everything within our circle of influence. Plus, we feel guilty when we don’t take responsibility for things that aren’t even inside our circle of influence. We often find ourselves asking the question, “Should I be doing more?”
Well, should you? Or are you taking responsibility when you don’t need to? I don’t have an answer to these questions yet, but we’re going to work through them together. Stick with me, and we’ll see what I come up with by the time I end this essay.
To tackle these questions, we’re going to Stay Curious and Respect Other Points of View — 2 components of The Cycle of Deliberate Thinking) — by discussing what some of the “experts” on taking responsibility have to say about it:
- Eckhart Tolle — a spiritual teacher
- Dr. Jordan B. Peterson (of course!) — a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology
- J. Krishnamurti — an Indian philosopher
- Sadhguru — an Indian yogi
- Olivia D’Silva — a life purpose coach
Then, we’ll see if we can meld their opinions together into one that would make sense to Deliberate Thinkers like us.
Why Is Going Through This Exercise Important?
Because I want you (and me) to live the fulfilling life you were meant to live. In order to do that, we have to meet our Esteem needs — dignity, independence, and respect.** It stands to reason that it’s going to be nearly impossible to meet our Esteem needs if we are in the habit of taking responsibility for things that we don’t need to.
These “things” that we are taking responsibility for are not our burden to carry, but they’re also not even under our control. Yet, we will judge ourselves and value our self-worth based on how well we meet these perceived responsibilities.
(As I write this, I’m reminded of a post about codependency that I wrote a while back. I’ll put a link to that at the end of this post. Codependency may be the root cause of your tendency to take responsibility.)
How the heck are we supposed to gain self-esteem, dignity, independence, or self-respect if we’re evaluating ourselves based on something we have no control over? If we expect ourselves to always anticipate other people’s needs? And if we take personal responsibility for other people’s problems?
We can’t, right? And that’s why we’re going through this exercise — because learning what we should take responsibility for will help us get one step closer to becoming self-actualized and realizing our full potential.
Plus, quite frankly, I’m sick of fighting this fight every day — constantly reminding myself what is and what isn’t my responsibility. So, I’m hoping to gain some clarity right along with you.
Without further ado, let’s see what the “experts” had to say.
**I’m referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you’re not familiar, there’s a link to a great article that explains it at the end of this post.
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Eckhart Tolle - Spiritual Teacher
I’m going to let the cat out of the bag and give away Tolle’s answer to the question, “What is my responsibility?” — your state of consciousness. I guess this isn’t a surprising answer, given that it’s coming from a spiritual teacher, but it makes a lot of sense.
In this context, your state of consciousness is your awareness of yourself — your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions — and your environment at any one moment in time. Your state of consciousness creates your world, according to Tolle.
Tolle goes on to say that a “diseased and dysfunctional” state of consciousness produces a “diseased and dysfunctional” world, which seems to imply that we have a responsibility to create a healthy and functional world. And the way we do this is by taking responsibility for our state of consciousness.
After all, the world we create is a byproduct of our actions. Our actions are a byproduct of our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions (consciousness). And that’s why we need to take responsibility for our state of consciousness and, in turn, create a better world for ourselves and for others.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re going to feel responsible for making sure other people know that they need to take responsibility for their state of consciousness. (I guess that’s what I’m doing right now. ?) To that, Tolle says:
It’s enough for you to take responsibility knowing there’s still a few million others who don’t know that they can take responsibility because they live in such unconsciousness . . .
In other words, it’s not your problem! You create a better world by taking responsibility for your own consciousness, and that’s the best you can hope for.
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Dr. Jordan B. Peterson - Clinical Psychologist and Professor
J. Krishnamurti - Philosopher
Sadhguru - Yogi
Olivia D’Silva - Life Purpose Coach
Are You Taking Responsibility When You Don't Need To?
Only Have 1 Minute
Sources & Inspiration
Codependency post I referred to: How to Stop Being Codependent: My Personal Journey
Maslow article I referred to: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Saul McLeod, Simply Psychology, updated 2018
What Is My Responsibility?, posted to YouTube by Eckhart Tolle on 8.28.09
Are you taking full responsibility? | Danny Opheij | TEDxSittardGeleen, posted to YouTube by TEDx Talks on 4.13.18
RESPONSIBILITY – Powerful Motivational Video | Jordan Peterson, posted to YouTube by WordToTheWise on 8.24.19
Jordan Peterson on taking responsibility for your life | 7.30, posted to YouTube by ABC News In-depth on 3.12.18
What is our responsibility to ourselves and others? | J. Krishnamurti, posted to YouTube by J. Krishnamurti – Official Channel on 7.02.17,
Your Life Is 100% Your Responsibility – Sadhguru | Yogi’s Guide, posted to YouTube by Android Climber on 6.11.19
5.5 What is Your Responsibility?, posted to YouTube by Olivia D’Silva on 7.07.19
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