The Buck Stops Here

“If nothing changes. . . nothing changes.” This phrase is often used to express that if we want different results, we must do things differently. As obvious as that sounds, it is extremely common to think otherwise.

This avoidance of responsibility is a foundational obstacle to our happiness, and all of us do it to some degree or another. It is evident in the man with awful, dark depression, who states he wants to feel better, but who is consistently blaming “society” for his unhappiness. Or the client who has been sexually abused who rightly seeks validation of the awfulness of the abuse, but then hides behind her past and her pain, avoiding the work of healing and relationships.

More commonplace and more subtle perhaps, you and I may blame another for our unhappiness and think “if only s/he would change . . .” Or maybe we buy into what I call the “all-powerful pill” model, believing the pharmaceutical company deception that our suffering is 100% chemical, that the only thing we can do to feel better is to take medication for the rest of our lives.

What all of these scenarios have in common, is that we have effectively made ourselves helpless to a greater or lesser degree. If we are dissatisfied with our quality of life, the rock-bottom truth is that we can create change and life satisfaction only to the degree that we take responsibility for our own choices, our own healing, and ultimately our own happiness.

Taking full responsibility can be terrifying — as you may be feeling at this moment. Indeed, it may seem overwhelming. It means we have to take a hard look at ourselves: We have to identify self-destructive or unhealthy patterns. We may have to face guilt. We have to do the hard work of making changes. And it will take time. There is no magic pill.

But this is also our only path to freedom. And if we will look beyond our fears, we will discover a priceless treasure. Once you or I truly believe that we can determine our own outcomes, we are liberated! “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”


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