A client was telling a story about a dynamic that occurs between her and her boyfriend. I listened until I heard the words, “he always makes me feel like I’m not good enough.” Ouch. She wanted to keep going with her story, but one cannot intend to take responsibility and get away with uttering those particular words. So I interrupted her and asked if she would re-phrase the statement from a take responsibility point of view. (Nobody’s favorite game.)
…she could feel some of the number one benefit of taking responsibility: authentic power.
She was reasonably new to the practice and looking at what her boyfriend was doing through the lens of responsibility was novel and uncomfortable, particularly because she was so focused on him and so certain that it was all his fault. That’s the whole point. When we hold others responsible for our experiences, it’s hard to see or hear things differently and it’s certainly hard to acknowledge that we might have a role in them at all. Indeed, it was virtually impossible for her that day to understand what I was talking about so I offered this take:
“I have somehow created a dynamic whereby my own sense of not feeling good enough is reflected back to me, in this case, by my boyfriend. If I stop to think about it, this has actually happened with every significant boyfriend I’ve ever had. Chronic experiences are evidence of old, entrenched beliefs at play and maybe it’s my belief that I’m not good enough that results in attracting boyfriends who seem to think I’m not good enough.”
She began to get it, bless her heart. It takes courage and effort to walk this path and I commend everyone who’s willing to do it, especially when it’s so new. She began to glimpse the whole thing about how we create our realities based on what we believe, whether or not what we believe is something we want to experience. I continued:
“And guess what? It’s not my fault that I even have this belief that I’m not good enough. I just picked it up as a young child and swallowed it whole — just as every young child absorbs and makes meaning from what she sees and hears and experiences. It got programmed in me back then and even though it’s not my fault, I do take responsibility for the fact that I have that belief and, more importantly, for doing whatever it takes to change that belief, starting here and now, today.”
Even though this was a new concept for her and she was only, in this conversation, beginning to make sense of shifting her focus from blaming her boyfriend to taking responsibility herself, she could feel some of the number one benefit of taking responsibility: authentic power. It was new to her and part of her still very much wanted to blame her boyfriend. But she agreed that what I could see in her eyes and feel in her energy was that a profound shift was underway. She wasn’t thrilled with the steps she might have to take next, but there was a qualitative difference between that and waiting around for her boyfriend to be other than who he is and behave in ways he has never behaved.