The word responsibility is made up of two words: response and ability.
This word not only describes your innate ability to respond but also your choice as to how you respond.
Victor Frankl said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Let’s say there are two types of people in the world:
The one group consists of people who take responsibility for themselves. We can call them the empowered.
Then there are those who don’t. We’ll call them the victims.
Here follows a short description of victims: They live in a stimulus-response world. Things, events and people (triggers) make them respond in a certain way. Something happens and they automatically respond mentally, emotionally, verbally or behaviorally. There is a stimulus and response, with nothing happening in between. These people are referred to as victims, not because they have been dealt a bad hand in life or because they have been victim to more bad fortune or treatment than others, but because of their mindset. They believe their condition, state, behaviour is the way it is because of someone or something else. But never because of their own decisions or actions.
They use language like:
“You make me feel…”,
“You make me do….”
“You make me say…”.
Excuses and blaming is in the order of the day, never owning up to anything. With them there is always transference of responsibility.
These people are defensive, reactive and generally un-resourceful.
They are always at the mercy of their mood, state, emotions or whatever is happening around them. They are relegated to be a product of their environment. Their fate is determined. They are the slaves of today.
Most animals also live in this world.
Then on the other hand we have the empowered. Here follows a short description:
They live in a choice world. They live, act and respond as if they always have a choice about how to respond to things around them. They recognize that responses operate as a function of thinking that happens between the moment of stimulus and response. They reflect a consciousness that is exclusively human. They live a life of empowerment and are in charge of their own lives.
They use language like:
”I choose to…”.
They own their responsibility. They also own who, where and what they are. They hold themselves responsible.
These people don’t have the need to defend themselves and are often very resourceful.
They intentionally choose and manage their emotions and mind states. Their future is their choice. They are emancipated. They are the free.
They have matured to realize and make use of that “space” between stimulus and response. That space that Victor Frankl refers to as: where our “growth” and “freedom” lies.
Paul Tillich said: “Man becomes truly human at the moment of decision.”
If you fall within the victim group, you are not very different from a one celled amoeba organism that responds directly to the stimulus in it’s environment
People remain victims right up until they make the decision to take control of their four basic powers that makes them human. The four powers are:
Conditioning yourself to have more constructive responses
The human body-mind-system is hardwired to survive. It has numerous unconscious adaptive mechanisms that are geared toward survival. One of these adaptive traits is to conserve energy. This trait comes from ancient times when energy (food) was not available in abundance.
We can compare the brain (mind) to a very complex garden. In this garden of the mind there are many footpaths. These footpaths represent neural networks and pathways. The pathways and networks are established through learned responses as you go through life. As your brain develops you form connections between neurons and you re-enforce those connections to become patterns of thought. Patterns of thought lead to certain actions and behaviours.
The well-trodden pathways in your garden are your normal and default ways of thinking-feeling and responding. The brain likes to use these well-used paths as they offer least resistance. The brain is designed to conserve energy. Carving new pathways in the garden takes energy.
The brain will always revert to old ways of thinking-feeling and responding until you establish a new path. This will require a little effort and work, but it’s absolutely possible to condition yourself to have more constructive, empowering and resourceful responses. By operating from a more empowered and resourceful state, you will naturally achieve improved results. You will be more successful in whatever it is that you are doing.
We often have footpaths that we prefer to use, as they were the best paths to navigate through childhood, adolescence and early stages of life. The reality is that we change, our environments change and we need to update our footpaths to reflect a dynamic ever-changing world.
Freedom is a choice
Freedom is not something that gets handed to you. Emancipation is not something we wait for our leaders or rulers to dispense. It’s a choice. A decision: to take control of your inborn God-given powers and your ability to respond.
Only the empowered are truly free. Victims remain slaves.
You can intentionally choose to manage your states, emotions and responses. Become aware of that “space” between stimulus and response and realize you have a choice in how you proceed. It is quite literally in this space that your growth and freedom resides.
New ways of thinking, feeling, speaking, acting and responding are all about creating new connections and re-enforcing those patterns. You have the ability to tap into this power. Neuroplasticity (the process during which the brain undergoes constant rearranging and remodeling in response to the changing internal and external environment) is something you can utilize for personal growth, joy and satisfaction.
Make the decision to be free, to be human.
About the author: Reinhard Korb is a thought leader in the application of psychoneuro-endocrinology, neuro-semantics and epi-genetics. He optimizes health, wellness and performance while preventing disease and disability. As the founder of Thrive, he has facilitated and helped organisations and individuals actualize their potential. He is a certified Fitness & Nutrition Coach, Meta Coach, Neuro Coach, Stress Management Coach and Wellness Coach.