Lie #2 goes hand in hand with Lie #1. If you feel like you can’t change, it’s probably because you believe whatever is tormenting you or whatever you don’t like is someone else’s fault. We blame lots of people and situations—our parents, our upbringing, our ancestors for giving us these genes, our children or our spouse or our families for causing us to feel this way, our employer for not paying us what we’re worth, or people we don’t even know because they’re destroying our neighborhoods and communities or corrupting the government. Mostly we blame forces we cannot control, like God or the devil, because that’s really easy to do.
The truth is that it’s no one else’s fault. You and I are responsible for everything that happens in our lives. We are responsible for situations, our feelings, our behavior—everything. This may be hard to accept, but once you accept it, your life will change. Instead of living as a victim, you become free. You become empowered. You become in charge of your life and what happens to you, and if there’s anything you don’t like, you can change it. Carol Tuttle wrote what she called a universal truth: “Your beliefs create your experience.” In these posts I will quote a lot from her book Remembering Wholeness, because it changed my life and helped me to understand and implement that universal truth.
Author Jack Canfield wrote this: “You have to take the position that you have always had the power to make it different, to get it right, to produce the desired result. For whatever reason—ignorance, lack of awareness, fear, needing to be right, the need to feel safe—you chose not to exercise that power. Who knows why? It doesn’t matter. The past is the past. All that matters now is that from this point forward you choose—that’s right, it’s a choice—you chose to act as if (that’s all that’s required—to act as if) you are 100% responsible for everything that does or doesn’t happen to you.” (For the rest of this really great article, click here.)
My LDS friends and others know that “A central part of our Father’s plan was that we would be free to choose. This gift is called agency, the power to choose. The companion of agency is always accountability. We are individually responsible for the choices we make.” Robert Hales, an apostle in the LDS church said: “We teach that agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and “to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon.” Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions. Our agency is essential to the plan of salvation. With it we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.”
For many years I collected and stored a lot of pain which I believed was inflicted upon me by others. Specifically, I blamed a lot on my mother. I chose to be hurt and angered by her behavior towards me. I chose to be a victim so that I had someone to blame for my own behavior. I realize now how ineffective that pattern was, because all of that which I had collected and stored wasn’t helping me at all. The truth was that I could choose to be hurt, I could choose to be the target of my mother’s unreasonable and confusing behavior, or I could choose to seek understanding. I asked myself a question: what was it that I was doing to cause her to treat me in a way that I didn’t like? I choose now to be accountable for what I was doing to attract unkindness from her (not having healthy emotional boundaries, in case you were interested), and I also accept that I wasn’t always kind to her either. By taking responsibility for my own behavior, I am now allowing healing in my relationship with her. Things are getting better between us.
I don’t share this example with you to make you think I have it all figured out. I just know the truth, and that is that we are responsible for our thoughts and our behavior, and when something isn’t going the way we want it to go, what are we doing to attract that situation? Looking inward and accepting personal responsibility can make something different happen.
Take a look at your life. Is there a troubled relationship? Is there a dead-end job? Do you want something you’re not getting? Ask yourself what you are doing to attract what you don’t want. Be willing to accept that. Then choose to do something differently.