- owning your life, and how you live it
“Do not give your attention to what others do or fail to do; give it to what you do or fail to do.”
There is a key ingredient in the development of your health, happiness and well-being —
.... the ability to take responsibility for your past, present, and future. To live self-responsibly,
you must be able to influence your behaviour freely and through conscious choice in four
1. Adopting an active orientation to life, rather than a passive or victim-like orientation.
2. Acting in ways that will help take you towards your dreams, desires, and goals.
3. Along the way, being accountable for your decisions, priorities and actions.
4. Choosing the values and beliefs that will guide you in life, rather than blindly
accepting whatever you’re told by family, friends, the government, the media, or
the culture in which you live.
Many do not know what self-responsibility for their life actually means; I have had people get angry at the mere thought of the concept. Others convince themselves that it is too difficult to take self-responsibility for their life, their health, and well-being. Some blame others for their problems. Others hope that someone will come along and rescue them. And some are just too lazy to be bothered and have told me so.
In the family, as children, when things go awry, we tend to look to mum or dad, or both, to kiss and make it better. Or if parents argue, the stance is often, “You started it. It’s your fault. You do something about it.”
If social services are failing, we tend to look at local and national governments and expect them to sort things.
And when we are ill, we turn to our doctors as first port of call in the hope that they will find out what’s wrong with us, take our pain away, sort us, fix us, and get us back to “normal!” – which for some of us means we want to go back to how things were and that includes, not making any changes to our thoughts and ways that got us to be ill in the first place.
And if we are religiously inclined we turn to our God with beseeching prayers and even if we are not religiously inclined we blame our God for our misfortunes and say things like, “What’s the point believing in you for look at the mess you’ve got us / me into!” So Laurel and Hardy.
Responsibility - the battle of selves
Always, when things seem critical, our default is to look outside of us petitioning to anyone who will listen.
But the real challenge is to put feet to our prayers and petitions and to notice that between brain, mouth, and feet, lie heart and love right in the middle. Love, that balances everything.
How often do we spend years looking outside instead of realising that the answer to so many of life’s ills lies within, and with Love?
But people cannot make positive changes in their outer life, until they have made positive changes in their inner world. .. in their thinking, their attitudes, their intentions, their beliefs.
Alas, when people set to, to make changes on the inner level, they do so with their ego mind personality, the very lower-self part of their being that perhaps has created the life circumstances and ways of being that now require to be changed. Albert Einstein told us that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. We have to think in different ways and in different ways think different thoughts.
The personal ego wants to blame others, play the part of victimhood.
The God part of us, however, our Higher Self, is whole and complete, and is the part to which we should pray or petition when we seek to make the positive changes within, in order to see positive outer effect changes. For example, if you have an attitude or belief that you always become ill in the winter, the chances are you will. You have sent that request or intention out and the Universe kindly obliges. But imagine you decide to grow up a little and you don; want to end up with the winter flus and chills, so you make sure your home is warm, you buy in throat lozenges, treatments and remedies. But all the time your mind is on not wanting to attract any winter ill – but your other than conscious mind does not recognise negatives so it hears, “attract a winter ill” and sets about finding ways it can happen. In other words, you get what you think about – even if you think you are thinking about what you don’t want! Life’s crazy little paradoxes eh?
But all the pills and potions will not stave off the winter chills anyway; the real change has to be made on the inner thought plane perhaps first by deciding that “this winter, I attract only good health” – NB you focus on what you DO want, not on what you don’t – and then you live life as if that were the case, in other words, you adopt a healthy lifestyle. You wrap up warm and head to enjoy the elements rather than staying stuck in doors in case you catch something outside.
Or here’s another case. Imagine you are always struggling to make ends meet, there is never enough month left on the 30th or 31st, money goes out as quickly as it comes in. That’s life, you say. Or is it? And need it be?
Your ego mind will come up with all sorts of strategies to get and keep more money, but equally keep on doing the things that means you spend it. Real change happens when you explore your inner world. What are the negative beliefs you are harbouring that attract to you poor financial situations? Do you fear lack, do you fear you will never have enough or never make ends meet? Did you grow up in a household where your parents always argued about money and there was never enough to go around. Did you learn that money is the root of all evil (and so it’s best to get rid of it as it comes in) or that it doesn’t grow on trees? Do you have a lack mentality instead of an abundance mentality? Do you feel you deserve? To change your external situation with money and finances, you need to change the inner world.
Whichever aspect of your life is in need of healing, the healing or the changing has to begin from within. This is a huge call to self-responsibility – to not abdicate your life and its responsibility to doctors, parents, others, God or, or, or. The most important question now is not, "What can my life and the people in it bring me ?" but rather, "What am I bringing to life?" More specifically, “What am I bringing to my health?” No matter what happens, our focus must be on rising to the occasion of taking whatever comes and lifting it into the light of love and truth. If the truth is that you drink alcohol to excess, you take drugs, you smoke, you don’t exercise, you are negative and critical (you get the picture – for effect) then the change has to begin with you.
To me, that means getting real. We shouldn't allow ourselves to be satisfied with healing some areas of our lives, but not others or expecting others to do it for us. Sure we can enlist others to support us but we have to do it. After all, a doctor cannot heal YOU. Only your body can heal itself, if you help it to.
Wherever and however we can, let us resolve to increase our personal responsibility for our health, for our life.
I have a fervent plea one in which all of us can say, at the end of the week, this month, this year that we were the best we could have possibly been and contributed mightily to our personal healing, and the healing of our world. As the words of an ancient Chinese general allegedly go,
“If the world is to be brought to order, my nation must first be changed.
If my nation must first be changed, my hometown must be made over.
If my hometown is to be reordered, my family must first be set right.
If my family is to be regenerated, I, myself, must first be .....”
All change starts with an individual, an individual thought, an individual idea, an individual person making a difference as far as they can.
It must, however, be emphasised that the principle of self-responsibility entails a profoundly important moral idea that the taking responsibility for our own life and existence implies respect for other people — the recognition that they do not exist to satisfy our needs.
State imposition of responsibility – without itself being responsible!
In the worlds of government, national and local, health and social care, there are many continuing controversies regarding personal versus social responsibility; some say the state should not impose rules and regulations for our health, others say if people won’t be accountable for their health, the government should not hold back but to make certain health decrees. Following a brief examination of the various arguments for and meaning of “personal responsibility for health”, one notices that attention is often focused on the arguments for and against holding the individual to be primarily accountable for his or her health behaviour.
Some writings make the case for more balanced, ecological approaches that stress individual responsibility for health within the context of broader social responsibility and government legislation and health strategies. Personal responsibility for lifestyle choices, increasingly a UK government mantra, juxtaposed with government targets fir how we should be running our lives, ie the nanny state, are increasingly being challenged as the complex relationships between sociocultural and environmental conditions and personal choice are recognised. A period of austerity, not personally caused, has made it difficult for some to put a roof over their head let alone attend to the details of putting proper food on the table.
But whatever the arguments that rage, and whatever our means, can there be any argument against the notion that says “Your body is yours, look after it as best you can. It is your responsibility.”
We all make daily lifestyle choices that affect our health from what to eat, how much exercise to have, whether to get some natural Vitamin D by walking in the sun (when we get it.) It is often assumed that all of our choices are made through our free will. But are they? And can they be?
In order for an individual to be considered fully responsible for their health and well-being, certain preconditions must be met eg
Their actions must be informed – but how well informed can we be especially with a culture where so many medical staff have a disdain for patients who are informed, do their research and search the internet? How reliable is the information we get? Much medical research papers are suspect and have vested interests so we seldom get the truth. We inform ourselves about complementary and alternative medicine, about functional medicine, but our health system, the NHS is anti such approaches. How can it work towards an integrative health care system when it means selective or on its exclusive terms? How can we as patients be fully informed when we never automatically get full results of medical tests, get no copies of correspondence between specialist and our general practitioner unless we ask?
Their actions must be voluntary, uncoerced, spontaneous and deliberate - but how can they be when we get threatening NHS letters that if we don’t attend appointments THEY decreed we shall be deleted from the list and our GP notified? How can they be spontaneous when you must wait, as I did over 12 months for two different operations, and when four months is the norm to wait? When spontaneous isn’t possible, conditions are allowed to fester and deteriorate. How can they be deliberated given the absence of quality information or doctor’s biases for “their” way?
These preconditions are problematic when applied to lifestyle behaviours.
They do not acknowledge that health behaviours are influenced by many competing factors: services available locally, ease of transport, cultural pressures, health literacy, emotional intelligence and competence, contradictory definitions of health between patient and professional, outcomes required, health inequalities, mental capacity, involvement of the law, bullying by NHS staff, genetic predisposition and in the case of smoking, drug-taking, and alcohol, addiction to a substance or even an addiction to a certain lifestyle. Understanding which risk factors are within or outside of the individual's control is necessary when discussing responsibility for health. A balanced opinion would therefore suggest that lifestyle behaviours are influenced by a complex interplay of the intrapersonal and extra personal , political and geo-political factors to say nothing of a person’s life circumstances and responsibilities at special times eg when having to be a carer, or deal with grief.
Increasingly in Forth Valley NHS we hear the mantra of patient centredness which in reality I find is a health professional’s way of passing responsibility to the patient. Pass the buck. Never in two years have I had any encouragement for being self-responsible and informed. not even from the chair or the CEO.
Professionals' attitudes to patient centredness lack authenticity or a real understanding of the concept. Most professionals when I have asked for their definition of patient centredness then other than putting the patient first have been unable to say what this means for their individual approach and practice. Most also have a pretty poor definition of "health."Most in Fort Valley have said to me, and note the emphasis, “We are MEANT to be patient centred these days.” That sentence alone, in the tone of voice delivered, speaks volumes. It suggests to me the practitioner does not believe in the concept, is not practising it, does not know what it means. So, as the parent says to the growing-up child, if you want to be treated like an adult, act like one. If you want us to be patient centred and take responsibility, treat us differently. Listening would be a good start. And a Government and NHS changing the overall paradigm and system is essential to lead a cohesive change. (I appreciate that somewhere in the world of health, there will be brilliant examples of being patient centred. But it is not universal - yet.
A medical paradigm, a system which treats symptoms instead of causes, which deals with people as bodies with bits and parts and not on the interconnectedness of all things – conditions, lifestyle, diet, spirituality etc, which sees things and not the person, is not conducive to a patient seeking holistically to take responsibility for their total health and well-being.
Individual personal responsibility for health is dependent on cultural pressures, health literacy, emotional literacy, health inequalities, mental capacity, genetic predisposition and in the case of smoking, drugs and alcohol, addiction to a substance.
Individual personal responsibility for lifestyle choices lies on a continuum between complete free will and no choice at all and is also influenced by a person’s mental state, their ability to comprehend, their level of consciousness, what health services are available and the systems through which these are offered.
Doctors and other health professionals are not currently trained in lifestyle issues and are in no position to advise, moralise, or lecture.
A person’s behaviour which affects a person’s health is determined in part by perceptions of how much control over performance of the behaviour they feel they can have and in fact can have and varies from individual to individual.
Advances in our understanding of and the currency of the training in the genetic aetiology of so‐called lifestyle diseases and their associated behaviours present new challenges for determining those risk factors that are under a person's control and those that are outside of it.
Providing people with genetic risk information may induce a sense of ‘fatalism’, the belief that little can be done to reduce the risk. Fatalism may be particularly relevant to perceptions of responsibility and control now that many diseases are thought to have a genetic aetiology.
Habit and addiction introduce an additional layer of complexity when debating personal responsibility for health. The very nature of dependency suggests that the individual is unable to control their use of a substance which is usually damaging to health.
Therefore, determining the precise degree by which an individual can be responsible for lifestyle‐related health outcomes is complex and problematic.
Self responsibility and you
Which are you? Someone who takes 100% responsibility for your life and all it holds or someone who is constantly complaining about what “they” did to you, about how they made you feel, about the economy, about doctors, about things always being down to someone else and never down to you?
"If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life, as in hoping for another life, and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life."
Can you see the beauty in a rainy day?
Can you see the gift in illness?
Have you taken ownership of your life? And decided to live it to its most beautiful?
When we own our lives, we accept our lineage; sometimes we inherit bad genes but science now tells us that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed.
Ownership means we accept what we've inherited and the experiences we hold in our memories not just in this life but in any other lifetime.
For some it may be about acknowledging karma - in Hinduism and Buddhism it means the sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as determining their fate in future existences.
But whatever our beliefs, life doesn’t stop at acceptance of “it is what it is.” That is only the starting point. And beliefs limit and confine us. Believe you are lazy and you have nowhere else to go but lazy!
Acceptance is simply the first of what I call the face, embrace, replace continuum. Face what you’ve got, embrace it for all it’s worth, what it’s there to teach you, then if it ain’t working, replace it or learn to live with it differently.
If you are mostly negative, face it. It may be teaching you that life as a kid was tough, that people were always out to get you, so you learned to be negative and critical. You weren’t born negative; you learned to become negative. Now you have a choice. To stay with that awareness or decide to work in therapy to resolve your childhood issues (if you must) or simply make a commitment to live life through a more positive lens, by being positive, by looking for the good and not the bad in self and others, by praising instead of judging, by taking personal responsibility.
We can all lay claim to our right to create new conditions if we're not happy with what's come before or the deck of cards we’ve been dealt!
We can choose differently, always; we can choose to assume responsibility for changing what does not suit us. We can choose to think differently. We can choose to shift our perspective on an unhealthy condition. We can see a prisoner as a villain or someone who for whatever reason, genes, poor upbringing, poverty, getting in with the wrong crowd, came off his or her path of their higher self. And who are we to judge anyway?
We commit to being a victor, not a victim, to enjoying life’s journey, not just tolerating it. In short, we embrace the meaning and purpose, the mystery and the beauty of our lives.
"Recognize that life is what you get when you're born ... living is what you do with it."
-- Jim Allen
A guide to self-responsibility - the radical-healer approach.
Be aware. Keep a diary of you. What do you think, believe, do that works in your life. Become aware of how you waste – food, clothes, produce, products, opportunities, emotional energy eg being angry over things you have no control over.
Be aware of your regular patterns of thinking, both your thoughts and how
you think, of what triggers negative and positive emotions. Be aware of how
your environment triggers in you compassion, joy, dislike, humanitarian needs,
calls to action.
You are now noticing what it is you do that causes your life. Take steps to
change those things and ways you think, believe, say and do that are working
against you. Be aware that without uttering one word out into the world, you
are still transmitting energy. To become more aware of this, it’s called social
coherence, then have a look at this video then become aware of the thoughts
and attitudes you are sending out into the world all the time.
Be aware of how your eating and alcoholic drinking is badly affecting your
health and how that maybe impacting the cost of health and care services.
Be courageous. It takes courage to admit you are depressed, have cancer, are living with some debilitating disease. It takes real courage to face up to the fact you have an addiction, you are broke, your life isn’t working. Face what is going on, embrace it, learn from it, and decide how you would intend it to be different. Replace it. IE no wishing or hoping – manifesting it into action. Start by saying “not this – that” and demand more of yourself, questing for and putting effort into a different life style.
Be informed. Take an inventory of what is and isn’t working in your life. Take responsibility for eliminating or changing what isn’t working. Consider building on what IS working.
Be radical and bold and ask for what you want. Be clear and concise. Do what it takes. Complain, advocate, remonstrate, give feedback but at all times be clear what is not working and what you want instead. Not this – that. I don’t want this – what I want instead is …! The radical bit is that most of us don’t like to do this! We want to stick with the familiar, to our believe that we are right, and often are just too lazy to change.
Be open. You can’t expect things to change whilst clinging on to old and familiar ways of thinking and being.
Be open to challenging your status quo, to breaking out of it, to constantly learning, to trying new ways.
Be open and willing to forgiving, to changing your negative thoughts to more life enhancing ones.
Be blessed. Be a blessing. Blessings often just happen, we bump into someone who does something good for us. We receive an unexpected gift. Someone smiles at us, says thanks. We see a magnificent sunset, we have a fabulous swim when we feel right in the zone. A prayer is answered. A seemingly unresolvable problem somehow, through divine Grace, is resolved, just not in the way we imagined and we learn from it, a blessing for another time. We find ourselves giving gratitude more often. Rich in blessings, be a blessing. But even if you don’t feel rich in blessings, that’s no reason to deny others the blessings you can bring to them. Here are but a few ideas:-
Take your litter home. Create a beauteous landscape for all.
Don’t leave litter on beaches. Join a litter-tidying campaign eg ones run by the Marine Conservation Society in Scotland
Be well. That’s what this whole site is about. Encouraging and supporting you to be happy, whole, and complete, to be well and live a life of well-being. But it doesn’t just happen. It takes dedication, discipline, commitment, and effort.
Commit to being well and living a life of well-being. Eat, drink, exercise, and behave responsibly.
Notice what you do that works against that commitment – and change. It takes just a change of thought, or thoughts, to get you started. It all begins with a thought.
Be clear what a well life and a life of well-being would be and mean to you.
Ensure your every action, thought, behaviour, belief, is taking you in that direction.
Be happy. Life does not just happen to you. You make life happen. Consciously or not. Mostly it is through our unconscious thinking. If you see your glass as half empty, commit to seeing it full. Commit to happiness. Commit to the possibility that your beliefs and thinking and actions are what are preventing your happiness – and commit to happily changing them. Work out – what would make for a happy life, a happy you and how can you bring that around. Be bold and break out of the constraints you place around you.
When you exude happiness, you attract happiness and happy people and circumstances to you. Like attracts like. Be a happy magnet.
And cease with the blaming
So often we blame life or others for our awfulness. But as you point one finger out at
others, three at least are pointing back at you - a reminder that your life is mostly down
to you. There's a thumb pointing up, and that's a reminder that we always can connect
to our higher power, our Divine power for guidance. So no more blaming, even blaming
yourself. Simply acknowledge that at some level you cause your life circumstances.
How our energy impacts the world