Response Ability

For years, I held a belief around responsibility being a burden – mostly, because I perceived I was being held accountable for behaviors I had no way of controlling. I thought being a responsible person or employee was an obligation to be in charge, manage the actions of others and/or direct a series of events. I mistakenly believed I was expected to do all those things without question nor boundary.

Recently, I noticed that my idea of being a responsible individual has shifted to being more about how I respond to a situation or thought – my response ability. It dawned on me that I could let go of the impossible task of trying to anticipate, manipulate or placate the actions of others and simply be present and respond to whatever comes up in a way that is congruent with my values and heart. Sometimes that means giving others an opportunity to figure things out for themselves; often the responsible thing is to advocate “choices have consequences” or “tough-love” mentality. Other times it seems to require a tender heart or expressing righteous anger. I’m leaning into the idea that it is not at all about me controlling anyone or anything – it’s about responding in a way that allows for whatever is emerging to have space to expand and be recognized. From that awareness, I can intentionally choose my perspective and action.

As I contemplate it, I realize my role is not to blame or take credit anywhere; it is not to be the final authority or care-giver for anything or anyone. I’m holding this new idea lightly as I explore that perhaps being responsible is more closely aligned with honing my response ability; responding to what comes into view with compassionate intelligence that embodies all of who I am, rather than acting from one narrow definition.


What is “responsibility” to you? What’s possible when you expand your definition and consider you ability to respond to your world from an authentic and aligned perspective?

Photo Credit: Neven Krcmarek

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