Updated: Aug 2
If you consider yourself a spiritual person, you’ve probably studied and practiced a bunch of methods that focus in on developing qualities like compassion, forgiveness, self-love, and empathy. You might have learned some form of energy healing like Reiki so you can help others deal with their physical or mental and emotional issues, or perhaps you’ve learned to meditate to deal with stress or depression or to achieve enlightenment. Maybe you’ve learned how to enhance your psychic abilities and can read the cards or coffee grains and divine the future?
A topic I can pretty much guarantee that you haven’t studied is how to take personal responsibility. It’s dry, doesn’t sound very spiritual and seems like a lot of hard work. It might even come across as a bit cold, dogmatic, or authoritarian. It’s certainly doesn’t have the same woo-woo factor that words like ascension, channeling or transcendental have.
Taking personal responsibility and being accountable is a mindset, however, that is vital to anyone embarking on a journey of self-growth. Without it, any spiritual journey is doomed to being akin to a mouse in its cage, spinning relentlessly around in its wheel, going nowhere. But taking responsibility in the context of your spirituality, or your spiritual journey is critically important.
In my classes one of the key elements that underpins all the practices, even down to how someone sits for meditation is how to take responsibility. So many times, in various workshops, on announcing that I’m going to take the group through a guided meditation, there is a scurry for cushions and blankets and before you know it, there are cosy meditation ‘nests’ lining the walls, ready for the occupant to drift off into a warm dreamy slumber. Having experienced this too many times to count, I now spend time discussing the importance of posture in meditation: the need to be alert and focused, and, if possible, physically independent of external supports such as walls and the backs of chairs. When you can sit like this, you are being responsible for your own physical state. Nothing external is impacting on you.
Then of course there is the ever-present New Age penchant for playing music during meditation. As I’ve said elsewhere and discussed in my book Mindfulness Meditation and the Art of Reiki, when was the last time you saw monks wearing headphones, listening to their favourite tunes while they meditated? Answer: never. If you’re playing music, you’re not meditating. You’ve already abdicated responsibility for the state of your mind to the music. If the music gets sad, there’s a good chance it will affect you emotionally and you’ll get sad. If it gets happy or dreamy or excited, it’s likely to bring up the same emotional response in you. When you can turn the music off, you take responsibility for your mental state of being. Nothing external is impacting or conditioning your mental state.
If someone annoys you or makes you frustrated, envious, stressed, or anxious you need to realise that even here, you are responsible for your emotional state of being. When others cause you to have an emotional reaction, it’s not their fault. Your emotions are caused by your own thoughts and feelings. Other people and circumstances may trigger emotions, but they do not cause them. You are always responsible for how you respond to the world and what others say or do. When you can own this and recognise its truth it’s very empowering. Nothing and no one can make you feel a particular emotion without your permission.
If you don’t own this, you will stay permanently in the role of victim. You’ll allow everyone and everything to dictate how you feel, how you respond, the state of your wellbeing, your finances, the circumstances of your life. Nothing will be in your control. It will all be the fault of others, of society, your parents, your DNA, the state of the economy, your relationships and whatever else you can hand over responsibility too. Such an abdication is unhealthy and damaging to your sense of self as well as impactful to your spiritual journey.
Owning your state of being and becoming accountable on all levels is a declaration of freedom from victimhood. It is a pronouncement to the universe that your destiny will not be dictated by others and that you can claim every setback, misstep, or wrong decision as a lesson from which you can grow and move forward. When you do this, you move into your power.
It can be very empowering and freeing to realise that where you are right now is down to your choices in life, that every single choice you’ve made, every thought you’ve had, every emotion you’ve felt has led you right here, right now. You have spent your life sculpting time, carving out experiences and selecting from an infinite number of choices to create the reality that you’re living in this moment. Some of those choices and decisions may have been good, others bad, but you own them all. Once you have this gut-level realisation, you can become the conscious creator of your reality, of your spiritual existence and where you go from here.
Taking responsibility frees you from everything. There is nothing to hold you anymore. You must be ready to be okay when you screw up as well as when things go well. Bringing love and acceptance and gratitude to the downturns of life is a critical aspect of ownership. The screw-ups are your true treasures. These, more than anything, require an attitude of forgiveness, love as well as ownership so that they can be appreciated for the precious gold that they are. Every failure is an opportunity for growth.
Complete liberation is yours as soon as you take responsibility for every aspect of your being and move into your true power.