Are you taking responsibility for your intentions, thoughts, actions and decisions? You may not be able to control everything in your life, but you can take responsibility for those things that are within your power to change.
You can recognize that you’re not taking full responsibility when you find yourself using phrases like “I can’t” and “I have to,” when they aren’t literally true. For instance, “I can’t go to your party, I have to visit my in-laws that day,” or “I can’t just tell her the truth; I have to make her feel good.”
In fact, you probably know that the things you “can’t” do may actually be possible, and the things you “have to” do are things you may be choosing to avoid. But at some level, you really believe what you are saying: that you are powerless to choose whether you go to a party or our in-laws’ house, or to tell the truth instead of lying to make someone feel good.
What happens when you exchange “I can’t” and “I have to” into purposeful, responsible choices? When you say, “I won’t be attending the party, because I’ve agreed to see my in-laws,” or “I’m choosing not to tell her the truth because I want to avoid hurting her feelings,” you re-claim both your responsibility and your power. Make choices on purpose, and take responsibility. Try this.
List five different ways you feel you can’t, because you have to by finishing the sentence “I can’t , because I have to … “ five times.
Now, reread the statements you’ve just written. Are they literally, physically true? Is it completely impossible for you to do the things you “can’t” do? Do you truly “have” to do the things you say you “have” to do?
To say you “have to” or “can’t” in a situation that really involves your choice, you are probably giving up your power, blaming others, and playing the victim.
Instead of “I can’t,” rewrite the phrases above with: “I choose not to,” “I’ve decided not to,” “I will not,” or “I want to.” Where you have written “I have to,” change the words to “I choose to,” “I’ve decided to,” “I will,” or “I want to.” By doing this, you have shouldered responsibility for the things you really can change, and set yourself free to co-create the life you want.
Debra Betterly, PhD is an Integrative Wellness & Life Coach and Metaphysician whose passion is to help women expand their health, joy and purpose in midlife and beyond.
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