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"All humans seek the illusive touch of another's Soul, which opens us to the sense of belonging to something bigger than the self. Dr. Kortsch has given us the true "tao" of relationship in this brilliant exploration of emotional tapestry. We will be grateful for this illumination of spiritual partnership for generations to come." Chris Griscom, Spiritual Leader, Author

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Making the Case for Responsibility


Let's say one of your friends says something you don't like. Now you may feel hurt or angry. But let's say you misconstrued or misunderstood what your friend said; perhaps you perceived it in a totally different way than it was intended. But ... the result still is that you may feel hurt or angry. In both instances - whether you understood correctly or not - you feel hurt or angry because you blame your friend for how you now feel, justifying it to yourself by the fact that what was said was not 'nice' or 'kind'. In other words, the responsibility for how you now feel rests on your friend's shoulders.

Think about it for a moment. By virtue of such a mode of thinking, your well-being, happiness, and general state of joy appears to be in the hands of another (or perhaps many others).

Does that make sense? Does that give you a feeling of freedom? Does that make you feel as though you are in charge of your life?

So what's wrong with this scenario? Could it simply be that you have not yet taken responsibility for yourself? Could it be that as long as you 'give' others power over your life and well-being, by blaming them (for whatever), you rescind your own freedom?

How do you take on responsibility for your life, your well-being and happiness, and by extension, for your freedom? What needs to change for that to happen? The short answer is that whenever anything occurs to cause negative affect in you (to create negative emotions in you), you need to first look at yourself in order to ask why this (whatever it is) is bothering you. (And by the way, this is not about social problems, but about personal, inter-relational situations, as well as situations where you are unable to change matters, at least for the moment ... a well-known example of this latter type might be Nelson Mandela).

When you ask yourself the question about why this (whatever it is) is bothering you, you begin a process that calls for self-responsibility. You look inside for answers rather than blaming outside and believing that your answer lies in the blaming: it is the fault of the other person or the situation which immediately implies that you are at the mercy of that person or situation, and therefore you are not free. So going back to my example of the friend who says something that causes you to feel hurt or angry, you would then - at the beginning of such a process; while you're still teaching yourself to think like this - oblige yourself to change your narrative. You'd come up with a different self-dialogue. You would ask yourself why this causes you to feel angry or sad, and then, instead of answering in your default mode as you've done so many times before by saying it's because your friend said such-and-such, and so it's his/her fault, you'd look inside. You'd ask yourself if perhaps you have poor boundaries, and have allowed your friend to be rude or inconsiderate one time too many (in which case a serious conversation is long overdue, which begs the question why you have not had this conversation long ago). Or you'd ask yourself if you have been jumping to conclusions regarding what your friend said due, perhaps, to a lack of self-esteem on your part (in which case you would - grudgingly, perhaps - begin the process of admitting to yourself that you needed to work on that aspect of yourself). Or you'd ask yourself if your pain or anger had to do with your friend refusing to 'fulfill a need' for you (in which case you would begin to recognize - I hope - that you are responsible for fulfilling your own needs).

While these brief guidelines are just a few of the multiple different scenarios that could arise, I am confident you get the gist of the idea of self-responsibility. It is a hard thing to accept, and yet it is one of the broadest avenues to inner freedom that we all have.

Image: Pacific Madrone Tree, National Historic Park, San Juan Island, Washington


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Note: If you are wondering why this blog is now only appearing on alternate days (excluding Sat/Sun), it is because I also post on my other blog on the others days. That other blog is Rewiring the Soul so named for my first book. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed.

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