The bottom line for me comes from the perhaps irrational idea that I think people want to be happy – contrary to all experience, I still think this is mostly true (although I see people wallowing in dysfunction to the degree that they must get some “pay value” from it.)
The unknown is scary. For many of us, we like the familiar – the reasons for this can be numerous – much of it comes from how we are raised, and what doesn’t trace its roots to that – comes from our need as humans to “look good” and that means not looking like we’re surprised, or at a loss for words or actions, or are “out of control…” So we’d rather be safe and miserable (or at least a little miserable) than take real risks, even though they may not be very BIG risks, and be happy. So we continue creating misery.
In another blog Responsibility as Empowerment I wrote extensively about taking responsibility…
Saying that you create your own experience is very different from saying you are to blame for every feeling or behavior you have. When you get that you own your experience, you have created it, this is not about blame but rather about personal power. If someone or something outside of you is the cause of how you feel or behave, you are powerless -- a victim. If you, or at least your unconscious processes, are at cause, you have power and can do something to change your experience of the situation to one that is happier and more peaceful.
Previously I wrote,
“You can live in a world where other people or events cause you to feel the way you feel, but there is a high price. The price is that you will feel bad a great deal of the time. Or, you can choose to totally take responsibility for every feeling you have and every behavior you have. Having done so, you suddenly are at the "cause" end of the cause and effect process, where you can choose how you feel and how you behave.”If you are making a choice to feel something or to behave in a certain way, you can of course just make the right choice: to feel something that feels good or to behave in a way that has the greatest chance of having a good outcome. But what do you do with all those feelings and behaviors that seem to come unbidden, automatically? Since for most people, even those who are "advanced" seekers of consciousness, the majority of feelings and behaviors fall into this category, this is a very important question.
Every choice you make — including the thoughts you think — has consequences. When you choose the behavior or thought, you choose the consequences. If you choose to stay with a destructive partner, then you choose the consequences of pain and suffering. If you choose thoughts contaminated with anger and bitterness, then you will create an experience of alienation and hostility. When you start choosing the right behavior and thoughts — which will take a lot of discipline — you'll get the right consequences.
One of the hard things about understanding that we create our own experience is asking for what we want. That seems to be so hard for many people – for many, they have created the map (See my blog on maps – Principle 4) that they are unworthy of getting what they want or that for one reason or another they don’t deserve the good things in life other people get. “Other people have nice lives…not me…” Listen up because this is important - When we’re not clear on what we want, when we can’t really articulate what we need from relationships – or from work, or from our kids, or any other “other” in our life, we leave ourselves open to getting what we get, which may not be what we want. If anything, we get ambiguity. What fun is that?
Know what you want and tell people. Then the choice whether they meet your needs is theirs, and the choice whether you stay in a relationship with someone or something that doesn’t meet your needs is yours. Perfect.
There’s a big payoff in playing the role of victim, or using past events to build excuses. The downside is that it guarantees you no progress, no healing, and no victory. You will never fix a problem by blaming someone else. Whether the cards you've been dealt are good or bad, you're in charge of yourself now.
There is a cost to this philosophy – no longer can you go around saying, “you made me feel bad", "sad", "angry” or anything else. No one has the power to make me feel anything (unless you give it to them, and then you make that choice). So, you become responsible for how you feel. Not everyone is happy about that. On the upside, you become in charge of your life. The captain of your own ship. Are you ready for a change? How cool is that…