This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Feel Positive in Tough Times

Power Skill 3

take the curious view to positive action

Taking Responsibility

There isn’t much in this world that you have the power to control. Understanding that fact will provide freedom from a lot of stress.

Just as we have the power to control our reactions to situations, we also can control the next action we take. 

If you’re able to take a step back and look at what is happening objectively, you can to use these observations to inform your next steps. It takes humility to look at a situation and see what you could do differently.

Every situation is an opportunity to learn more about yourself. If you can look at yourself while taking a step back to understand with compassion, you’ll be able to make wise, well-informed decisions in the future. 

 

Get Curious 

Taking responsibility for your part of daily interactions can help you take charge of your life. When you’re able to look at your life and take a look at your role in it, you can realize your power to overcome. 

Begin by getting curious about the situation. For example, if you were fired from your job, you might ask, “Was there anything I could have done differently?” or “What can I learn from this to help me in my next job?”

Remember to take a stance of a non-judgmental attitude. If you’re criticizing yourself, you’re not taking responsibility but, instead, digging yourself further into the challenge. 

You don’t have to think that everything is your fault. Most of the time, it isn’t. However, it will strengthen your resilience to take an honest look at your part in your circumstance.

 

Are there people you need to apologize to? 

Sometimes taking ownership of your actions can be difficult. It’s important to have humility, especially when you’re apologizing to others. Your ability to verbalize your wrongdoings will display your maturity and ability to regulate emotionally. 

Follow this process to apologize effectively:

 1. Before you approach the person you need to apologize to, ensure you know what you’re apologizing for. It helps to write down a few key behaviors that could have been different and that you would like to adjust.

2. Let the person know that you’d like to talk to them about what happened and schedule a time. If you bring this up unannounced, the other person may not be ready to talk about it yet. This gives you both an opportunity to enter the conversation mindfully.

3. Begin the conversation by saying, “I’m sorry,” and don’t stop there.

4. Explain in detail what you’re sorry for. That way, the communication will be clear, and you’ll both be on the same page for the conversation.

5. Ask the person you’re talking to if there is anything else you left out. This part can be difficult, and it’s important because it can teach you new things about this situation. It can give you new ideas for how to move forward.

6. Ask if there is any action you can take to help ease the situation. Collaborate together to come up with something that works. 

Resentment can hinder the ability to apologize. If you feel resentment toward anyone, you can take responsibility for your forgiveness process. 

 

Forgive Others 

Sometimes people wrong us in significant ways that impact our lives. Sometimes we feel resentment toward someone for something small, but we just cannot seem to shake it. Regardless of the situation, there are things you can do to forgive. 

Others don’t always live up to our expectations. They disappoint us, or they intentionally interfere with our lives. Once trust is broken, it’s easy to place high expectations on what that person must do to prove their worthiness for your forgiveness. 

Believe it or not, you have control over when and who to forgive. You can decide to forgive someone right now, if you want, without the offender doing anything in return for you.

The process of forgiveness can be long, primarily if you’ve held resentments for a long time. However, by repeating a forgiveness exercise over and over, you’ll ease the weight that bitterness puts on your shoulders and weighs down your heart. 

 

Follow these FIVE steps to forgiveness:

 1. Identify your emotions. Take a moment to get quiet and identify three emotions you feel when you think about this resentment. There is no need to react to these emotions – you can simply identify them.

2. Recognize what you need to forgive this person for. How did they wrong you? How was your trust broken?

3. Say that you forgive. Imagine that person calmly standing in front of you. Visualize yourself speaking to them, and say, “I forgive you,” to them, over and over again. Say it at least three times and feel yourself releasing the tension of that burden.

4. Notice how you feel when you release your resentment. Imagine being free of this resentment. Visualize what your life would look like if you did not have to carry this around anymore.

5. Gain positivity. As you begin to feel better, pay attention to those good feelings, and invite more to come in. 

You may need to do this practice many times while forgiving one person. Over time, you’ll notice less emotional pull to this person when you think of them. 

 

Making Changes 

It’s challenging to figure out precisely how to take responsibility for your own happiness. When things feel out of control and chaotic, it can seem even more difficult. There are a few ways you can really begin to implement changes that will last. 

Begin by implementing consistent daily routines. Do the same things each morning that help you get prepared for your day. Include five minutes for a mindfulness exercise.

You can schedule your time to help you set boundaries and keep track of your personal growth. 

Set reminders to go off throughout the day that will guide you back to the present moment. These reminders can help you to pause in the present moment and move forward from there. Maybe you’re in the middle of a crisis, and a reminder goes off. This will remind you that you get to make your own decision. 

Check-in with yourself a few times a day to identify some emotions. By getting in the practice of identifying your feelings, you’ll be better able to take responsibility for them and make changes that meet your needs. When you can define your emotions frequently, you’ll be better able to identify them in times of confusion and doubt. 

Remember to see every moment as a learning opportunity. Continually ask yourself, “what am I learning from this?” Thinking about this will help you feel more empowered to make changes in your life because it will increase curiosity and self-confidence.