Both my and Kristen’s parents are loyal readers of this blog. My mom, in particular, will be thrilled to see what I’m about to share because I’m giving her public acknowledgment of the fact that I was wrong (which, if you know me at all, is a rare commodity).

The long story, short: I never used to take responsibility for anything.

As a kid and teenager, I know that’s pretty par for the course. Even though it sucks for your parents, they probably got pretty used to hearing, “It’s not my fault!” “My brother did that, not me!” and “Why do I have to clean these dishes?!”

My mom would have required smelling salts from the shock of me picking up a vacuum without being asked, or asking her what needed to be done around the house, or offering to cook anything.

I was most certainly not thoughtful. Or considerate. Or responsible.

And while I, and most Millennials I know, eventually learned how to cook, clean, and take responsibility for our physical crap, I’ve got to be honest …

MANY OF US NEVER LEARNED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR EMOTIONAL CRAP

Failure to take responsibility for yourself {emotionally} shows up in one of two ways:

  1. You feel “at the effect” of your situation. As in, you feel so stuck that it seems like there’s nothing you can do about it. You feel powerless to change your circumstance, which can make you lethargic, mopey, bitter, and dejected. You basically start to resemble Eeyore.
  1. You get angry and blame other people or circumstances for what’s happened to you. As in, you resort to finger pointing, bitching, and complaining. It’s not your fault. It’s his, hers, the economy’s … or whatever else’s … fault. This leads to you being pretty resentful, prickly, trigger-happy, and chronically annoyed.

And when you’re in either of those states (let’s call them Mopey and Angry … like a couple of twisted members of the Seven Dwarfs), the result is the same: You end up feeling like you don’t have the power to change your life.

THIS IS COMPLETE B.S., BY THE WAY

Let’s say that you’re in a job you don’t like.

A mostly-Mopey person is going to feel tired, all the time. You’re going to half-heartedly job search every now and then, when you have the energy. You’re going to say things like, “I’ve tried applying other places, but no one wants me. So why bother?” and “Well, the economy is really bad right now, so whatever.”

A mostly-Angry person is going to be constantly triggered by everyone, and everything. You’ll be rubbed the wrong way by co-workers a lot. You’ll say things like, “Ugh, that person is so incompetent she makes it impossible for me to do anything.” Or “Well everything would be fine if he was out of the picture.”

Either way … hating your job isn’t your fault. It’s out of your hands. It’s happening to you, without your consent.

And because it’s out of your hands … you don’t have to take responsibility for it.

Yeah, this is where it’s going to get really uncomfortable. Because I know, without a doubt, that:

THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE IS TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR CRAP

Being Mopey or Angry is really convenient, when you think about it.

Because when your circumstance has nothing to do with you, then you don’t have to do anything about it. You don’t have to take action, or take risks. You get to continue wallowing or blaming it on something else … safely and indefinitely.

And you also get to cling to your rationale, and your excuses. You get to feel vindicated and validated, and even somewhat martyred (all of that “hand to the forehead,” woe is me type stuff).

The bottom line: Whether you’re doing it accidentally or intentionally, when you hold on to being Mopey or Angry, you don’t have to change. (Because change is scary).

I’m sure you know how I feel about this by now.

I’m not saying you can control everything and everyone and that you can snap your fingers and create the life you want to live. That takes time and effort.

Which is the “whole point” of this: If you want your situation to change, you have to make an effort to take responsibility for your situation.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO START OFF BIG

If you want a better job situation, or a better kind of situation anywhere, with anyone, start by asking:

How can I be more proactive right now, instead of reactive?”

Because when you’re moping, whining, complaining, bitching, finger-pointing, or blaming … you are most certainly reacting to someone, or something.

And reaction is very different than being proactive.

Proactive means intentionally and purposefully asking yourself things like, “How could I get more clear on what I value?” or “How might I be interpreting this situation in a way that’s not really accurate?” and “What difficult things might I need to do in order to change my circumstance?”

It’s not always easy being proactive. It requires effort, movement, and change. It means setting down the security blanket that being Mopey and Angry affords you, and owning up to the fact that it’s no one else’s job to change your life but you.

twitter-bird-1-380x285 Reacting to everything will keep you trapped. Being proactive will set you free.

Take responsibility. Own up to your crap. Don’t foist blame. Swallow your fear. And be the one to change your life.

Oh, and maybe pick up a vacuum now and again, too. It’d make your mom happy.

Much Love,

Rachel (+ Kristen)

5 comments | add a comment | Share this > Tweet this > Email this >
  1. Thank you for this. I definitely can be one of the Mopey ones, but I am working on this every day. The “emotional crap” you talk about can weigh very heavy on a person. Getting rid of it and being proactive like you explain has opened my mind in so many ways. I feel more focused, and I am taking some risks, which scare me, but I am trying.

    I discovered your blog about a month ago and it has been a blessing.

    Keep sending your wonderful messages.
    Beth

  2. Hey Beth!

    Thank you so much for reading. I’m glad that you’re continuing to take risks, even though it scares you. Realizing that you don’t HAVE to feel Mopey is really empowering!

  3. Please add me to your Clarity on Fire blog post email list. I loved reading your blog post and was glad for the frank language and honest tone.

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