I wrote a post on my other blog recently about responsibility and how it underpins an ancient Hawaiian healing process known as Ho’oponopono. Ho’oponopono works on the premise that we have to accept 100% for everything that happens in our lives and whilst this is a massive thing to take on board, it is in fact the only way to bring harmony into your life.
Our life is a mirror of our mind – what we perceive in the outside world is what we project from our inner mind as wonderfully illustrated in the ode below:
‘Why is everyone here so happy except me?’
‘Because they have learned to see goodness and beauty everywhere’ said the Master
‘Why don’t I see goodness and beauty everywhere?’
‘Because you cannot see outside of you what you fail to see inside.’ Anthony de Mello
If we fail to see love in the outside world it’s because we fail to see it inside ourselves. If we fail to see generosity in the world around us it is because we fail to see it in ourselves and in our minds. What we see in our minds – good or bad – is what we see in the outside world.
We project a mirror image of our internal world onto our outside world – ‘perception is projection’. What we perceive in others or the world is what we see in ourselves (project) based on our past experiences. What we see in our world can be very different from what other people see and we tend to overlook this fact especially in our relationships.
If two people go into a relationship with different views, beliefs and opinions they will no doubt see things differently but also have different expectations from one another too and that’s okay as long as both parties recognise that each is unique. Problems occur when we fail to see other people as individuals with individual needs.
For example, if a woman goes into a relationship believing that she isn’t good enough, she may seek continual reassurance from her partner in order to feel less inadequate or insecure. If she doesn’t receive this continual reassurance she may feel let down or even rejected and/or she may begin to see the other person as cold or withdrawn.
Her partner on the other hand may value freedom – perhaps he has been in a controlling relationship in the past – so he expects to do what he wants when he wants. So as their relationship progresses she becomes more demanding – seeking continual reassurances in order to make her feel good enough and he begins to feel smothered, so he asserts his right to freedom by pulling away from her. This leaves her feeling even more in need of reassurances and him wanting more and more freedom to escape her continual demand for attention and so the cycles begins.
So when the relationship ends (she feels let down because he was ‘cold and uncaring’ and he feels disappointed because she was so ‘needy’) both seek to blame the other because they feel so hurt and let down. Neither accepts any responsibility in the doomed relationship though both we involved, so they go on to do the same thing in their next relationship and the one after that and so on and so on. How many times have you heard people saying ‘I always seem to attract the wrong man’ or ‘I always end up getting hurt’?
By accepting 100% responsibility for every relationship in your life you can break the continual cycle of disastrous relationships. If you blame every one else for your failed relationships then how can you begin to change future relationships? You cant! By looking at how you, not the other person, contributed to the relationship breakdown, you begin to gain some valuable insight into how you see yourself and other people and how this impacts on each and every relationship you have.
When you ask yourself ‘what can I learn about myself from this relationship?’ you can begin to gain a better insight into how you contributed to the success or failure of any relationship. You can begin to see that perhaps it was your continual need to be valued that drove the other person away or perhaps it was your fear of rejection which meant that you were too demanding?
Yes the other person may well have treated you with little respect but how did you contribute to this? Did you allow them to disrespect you? Did you speak up about how you felt and allow the other person a chance to change how they treated you? If you did and they still treated you disrespectfully, did you walk away?
If you continually seek to blame the other person you continually fail yourself. If you accept 100% responsibility for your relationships you allow yourself the chance to let go of blame, bitterness and the desire to always be right. Instead you find it easier to say ‘I’m sorry’ and move on with your life. Each of us is responsible for how we treat others and each one of us is responsible for how we let others treat ourselves.
However – and this is where most of the confusion occurs regarding accepting 100% responsibility for every relationship you have – whilst I accept 100% responsibility for my relationships – I do not accept the ‘blame’.
If you mistreated me or abused me or hit me I accept that there was something in me that allowed this to happen however I neither condone or accept responsibility for your behaviour. You are 100% responsible for how you allow others to treat you, for your behaviour, your actions and how you treat me. I am 100% responsible for how I allow others to treat me, for what I say and how I behave.
We all contribute to every relationship we have (and if you don’t contribute then perhaps that’s why you are on your own!) so we each need to accept 100% responsibility for them. I can accept 100% responsibility for my relationship with you but I can not accept 100% responsibility on your behalf – only you can do that.
Whilst I can accept 100% responsibility for my relationships I can not expect others to accept any responsibility for theirs and neither can you. Some people have neither the emotional intelligence nor the maturity to accept any responsibility for anything let alone for the relationships they have however once you begin to notice that you are allowing these people into your life, you can begin to weed them out!
All people come into your life to teach you valuable lessons – whether it’s to teach you to respect yourself more or to show you how wonderful you truly are – they are in your life for a purpose. The more you learn from each and every person in your life, the more fulfilling your life will become.
Be the person you want others to be and they will become the person you want them to be. If you want respect you need to respect yourself. If you want to be valued you need to see value in yourself.