Fulfillment Through Responsibility

present -awarenessFor many of us, responsibility is a tremendously loaded word. We often think of it as a demand to meet someone else’s expectations. There is a lot of negativity associated with responsibility. The word represents a heavy burden that many of us would secretly rather be rid of. Accepting responsibility in this light involves a sense of helplessness and resignation. It doesn’t permit choice.

I don’t believe any of these views of responsibility are helpful. In the sense that I use the word, responsibility is not a moral issue coming to us from somewhere outside of ourselves. It doesn’t come from a book or a system of ethics and it doesn’t come from your Father or Mother either.

Responsibility is simply the ability to respond to ourselves to become aware of our own needs in the present moment. Once we are aware of these needs, we’re also willing to take actions necessary to fulfill them. Of course, when your needs are in conflict with someone else’s you need to negotiate and compromise but negotiation is possible only when everyone is clear about his or her needs. This is what I mean when I use the word responsible.

Awareness and responsibility go hand in hand. You can choose when you want to be more aware or less aware. That’s your responsibility.

There are basically two points of view on the issue of awareness and responsibility. The active one is, “I am in control of my awareness.” The passive one states, “Awareness happens to me.” Each point of view leads to a different result.

Those people who believe that awareness just happens to them would say something like, “I’m not responsible for my awareness. After all, I can’t control what goes on around me, like the sounds, sights and smells. I’m unable to control how they affect me or the roll they’ll play in my life.”They believe their happiness depends on forces outside of themselves and feel helpless much of the time. Walking around with this passive mind-set is likely to lead to hopelessness, and even despair at times. After all, they see themselves as having very little free will.

People who accept responsibility for their awareness on the other hand, are likely to see things very differently. First of all, they make lots of choices for themselves. They’re more active and independent. Of course, they don’t have the power to change a cloudy day into a warm sunny afternoon but they won’t let the weather throw them into despair either. They’ll make choices that lead to their growth and fulfillment. Their outlook is full of hope and they respond to their present needs and their surroundings as they choose their course of action. These people are alive and truly responsible.

Awareness isn’t a passive occurrence that happens to you rather, it’s an active reaching out. Your responsibility in terms of awareness is to acknowledge your participation in the process.

For example, there are countless elements you can focus on at any given moment in the perceptual zone alone. Therefore, what you focus your attention on is strictly a matter of choice. That’s why no two people share an identical awareness. Your awareness is unique to you.

You can control your awareness only to the extent that you accept responsibility for it. To experience this for yourself, try this exercise. Simply observe what you become aware of, and then describe out loud the awareness, beginning with the words, “Now I am aware . . .” Then end each description with the words, “. . . and I take responsibility for it.”

After following their awareness, many people feel a stronger sense of reality in the present moment. That’s because the untrained awareness usually bounces frantically from object to object. By consciously following your awareness you can discover where you focus your attention. This knowledge allows you to assume more responsibility for your moment-to-moment experience.

Taking responsibility for your awareness is a courageous act. When you live in the now both the present moment and your future are what you make of them. There are no excuses to be made; only life is to be made each moment. You are in total control of shaping your life.

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