I talk a lot about the past, mainly because I like to think that it’s so relevant to who we are in the present. The past is powerful. The events, the people, the all of it has contributed to who we are. This step asks you to do something that may be difficult for some out there. It asks you to take ownership of some of the events that occurred and leave the past in the past. For this step, be extra careful with yourself and be gentle. Take your time and slowly work your way through it.
The first exercise is going to be an easy one. You’re going to admit 3 things: one that’s something fun, one that’s something personal, and one that’s something hard to say. Here’s mine:
1. Something fun: I admit rollercoasters scare me, but they’re so fun!
2. Something personal: I admit that I can hold grudges for long periods of time.
3. Something that’s hard to say: I admit that all I dream about is being a blogger full time.
This one is a fun exercise- If your life was a care, how do you treat it? Are you: Owning, renting, borrowing, leasing, or stealing? Explain your answer.
– I know the correct answer should be owning, but I feel like I’m borrowing someone else’s life. There are bits and pieces that I don’t feel like are mine. I feel like I’m borrowing these moments. The biggest thing that has been bothering me is my career; though I’m glad I have a job and someone took a chance on me, it doesn’t feel like it’s where I belong. I’m just going through the motions.
Imagine yourself at a fork in the road. One path leads you to your messy past, the other path leads to the limitless future. Which one would you take?
– I’m pretty sure that this is an easy answer for everyone! Who would want to go back towards their messy past? I’d love to walk towards my future because it’s a clean slate and anything is possible.
The next 2 questions are great questions to ask yourself every couple of months. What does taking responsibility for your life look like? How does this lead to freedom?
– To me taking responsibility of my life looks like me fulfilling the promises I make to people. In my mind, promises are like debts, and you have to pay off those debts to people. How does this lead to freedom? It’s easy. When I fulfill my promises, not only does it give me a sense of peace and pride, but nobody can hold things against me because they know I keep my word.
Another good set of questions to ask yourself:
– What are the most common ways that you hurt others?: I demand that my needs be met by others, I use blame and shame to emotionally hurt others, I label others with my negative traits, I make decisions without regard to the consequences, I pretend to agree with others to get what I want, I express negativity in indirect and passive ways, I use indirect and evasive communication to avoid conflict, and/or I withhold expressions of appreciation. How do you justify that behavior?
– Personally, I mainly withhold expressions of appreciation. I do it because when I was younger, I was never really good at expressing love and appreciation and I always think, “this person isn’t going to be around for long, so why bother?”
– What are the most common ways that you hurt yourself?: I minimize or deny how I truly feel, I mask my pain in anger, humor, or isolation, I am embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts, I accept sexual attention when I really want love, I am afraid to express my opinions when they differ from those of others, I have trouble setting healthy priorities, I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long, I avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy to keep my distance, and/or I believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness. How do you justify that behavior?
– I mask my pain in anger, humor, or isolation. This again goes back to when I was younger. Whenever I was feeling sad or upset about something, my parents never really validated those things, so as I got older I learned to mask my hurt. To this day, I sometimes find it difficult to tell people how I really feel because I’m afraid that they’ll just tease me for it – so I hide it.
Now that the exploring is done, here are some questions to ask yourself. These questions are great to answer on a bi-annual basis and it’ll be fun to see how your answers change.
- We blame and complain for a reason. What do we get out of it? What do you tend to whine about?
- How does complaining about something get in the way of us owning our problem, circumstance, or situation? Explain.
- What are some things you’ve discovered so far from this series that would be healthy for you to own? What would it look like to take personal responsibility for your life right now?
Some things to keep in mind as you go about your week:
When we do something wrong our first instinct is to hide or run away from the problem. We say things like, “Well, if you didn’t put it there I wouldn’t have broken it,” or “If he hadn’t hurt me emotionally, then my life wouldn’t be such a wreck.” We minimize our guilt by blaming others. In life, it’s inevitable that we’ll get hurt; nobody has lived their life “scratch-free”.
We often here victims of horrifying crimes say, “I took control over my life. I took ownership of that situation” and by saying those things that horrific past is no longer something that prevents them from creating a fulfilling life. It becomes a stepping stone to a more purposeful life. They become stronger individuals and they take away power from the other person and inherit it.
You can’t blame your way into a better future and how you respond to the circumstances that happen to you is your responsibility. It’s your decision. You can blame others for your past hurts and circumstances, but if you don’t own those circumstances, they become your identity. I’ve heard some rape victims say things along the lines of: “When he raped me, I became a rape victim, but by moving on with my life and making amends with what happened to me, I became a rape survivor. I took control of my life and I created the life I deserve, which is a life full of happiness.”
- If you don’t own your part of the past, you’ll never receive freedom.