“That’s just the way I am”

Have you ever heard anyone use that as an explanation? Or maybe used it yourself? I know I have. “Yes, yes, I ate far too much chocolate, actually finished the whole box by myself in one go and I feel a bit sick now, and half of the pieces weren’t even that good…but there is nothing I can do about it, that’s just the way I am. I am addicted to chocolates, always have been – that’s just the way it is.”
It’s such a trap, a trap of victimhood, removing the responsibility from where it belongs, thus making it very hard (or impossible) to change. Self-empowerment is the act of taking responsibility of your life. What is considered fair to say that I am responsible of?
  • The amount of chocolates I put into my mouth (my actions)? Absolutely.
  • How I talk about it (my words)? Oh, yes.
  • How I defend it to myself (my thoughts)? No question about it.
  • How I feel about it (my feelings)? Yes, actually that, too.

Where does Self-Empowerment start?

I once saw a picture that really illustrated this so well, it made me laugh out loud. The picture showed a number of face sized mirrors hanging on a wall. Under the first one, there was a text: “Meet the person responsible for your actions” – haha, I bet you can already see where this is going! “Meet the person responsible for your words”, “Meet the person responsible for your thoughts”, and “Meet the person responsible for your feelings” followed closely, all with their own, face sized mirror above the text.
There are a couple of things I’d like to elaborate on regarding this, and you may already have pondered the first one: are we really responsible for how we feel? Don’t feelings sort of come by themselves and it is then rather our responsibility how we act on them? Well, actually, no. We are very much responsible for how we feel, since we ourselves manufacture how it feels to be in our own skin. Just think of that: we manufacture how we feel – wow, that holds such promise and freedom! But…how?

Self-Empowerment in Care & Growth

We know from Care & Growth and what we’ve learnt about Intent, that we have the choice in each moment to either see what we can get out of the situation at hand, or we can choose to see how we can contribute to it. Contribution is the key, since the intent to contribute (with generosity or courage, depending on the situation) will fill us with feelings of gratitude and trust. Therefore, how we actually feel is not a question of what happens to or around us, it is a question of our intent – our intent to act in self interest, or to contribute. Therefore, you can have a look in the mirror and meet the person who is responsible for how you feel!

Accountability VS Responsibility

Empowerment is defined as the authority or power given to someone to do something. Therefore, if you have the power or authority to do something, it is in your hands. As we know, self-empowerment is the act of taking control of your life, an example of an aspect that is in your hands. Another matter which needs to be elaborated, on has to do with the word “responsible”. It is true that we are responsible, but it is actually more than that: we are also accountable for all of the above! We know, from the model for Empowerment, the importance of all these three ingredients: means, ability, and (most importantly) accountability to truly empower someone.

Responsibility is not enough for empowerment, it actually takes accountability. And that reasoning includes also our dealing with ourselves. We cannot leave it to anyone else to account for our actions, words, thoughts, or feelings. They are our own job. And a job it is! It is a transformation job, to go from “That’s just the way I am”, to being empowered to be and become a person who feels good in their own skin. That surely must be worth your time and attention! I believe you can do it! Do you?

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