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Personal Responsibility

While I think the subtitle pretty much tells you all you need to know, I'm going to elaborate anyway on the subject, because it's one of those things that is critical to this path.

You are responsible for everything you do. No excuses.

Sounds pretty harsh, doesn't it? Nobody said what you "did" wasn't the best of a couple of bad choices, but you're still stuck with the consequences. That's not a popular viewpoint in today's world of litigation and passing the blame, but I have yet to meet a spirit who will take an excuse when they call you to task. Furthermore, and as a bit of a reality check, you do still have to deal with the consequences of everything you do, whether you like it or not. I just acknowledge that fact, accept it, and work within that framework

This is one of those that bleeds over into real life too. Once you understand that you are responsible, it somehow seems to worm its way into your daily life. You find yourself being more careful in your choices, and before too long you start to get frustrated with excuses. That's something to be wary of... Not everyone agrees with this perspective, and while I'm not saying it's right to bow to other people's beliefs above your own, it's also a pretty high standard to hold to. Not everyone's ready to maintain it.

Personal responsibility extends to things you don't do too. You can screw up by omitting something, just like you can screw up by doing something wrong. And while I'd love to say ignorance is an excuse, I'm afraid it hasn't helped me to cry ignorance yet.

When you think about it though, you really have to see that the issue of personal responsibility is tied up in a lot of things in this path. If you're not ready to take responsibility for your actions, and you start doing shadow journeys as defined in this path, you're either not going to get anywhere, or when you find yourself faced with your darker side, you're not going to be equipped to handle it.  Dark sides don't take excuses either, and they don't tend to give second chances.

You can get put in a nasty situation and be forced to make the best of bad choices. In this case you're not only responsible for the decision you make, you're also responsible for letting yourself get put in that kind of position. I've found that when I get in these messes it's generally smart to keep track of my reasons for doing what I do, and using the whole thing as a learning experience - learning what not to do next time.


I would like to point out that what I discussed above is a completely different world from the world of abuse. I'd like to sugar coat it and say none of this applies there, and while that's not quite true (since you are still responsible for the choices you make while in that situation), I'd like to remind you of the phrasing of the statements above. You are responsible for everything YOU DO. Not what is done to you. That's a whole different world, and at least in adults is often (not always, not even most of the time, just OFTEN) the consequence you get stuck with for bad decisions earlier in the situation. Getting into the abusing situation we often do ourselves. What happens after that is what is done to us, and generally not our responsibility.

That's why I'm not quoting the familiar threefold/sevenfold/pick-a-number-fold law that whatever you do comes back at you X-fold. Because from the perspective of the person living your life (as opposed to the cosmic level), it doesn't add up. Contrary to the words of certain public officials, life isn't fair, and never will be. We deal with consequence, not retribution.

And before you start sending me mail saying I don't know what it's like to be abused - I do. I put myself there. I didn't walk away when I could. I took the consequences. Dealing with the result nearly killed me. But it didn't, and I'm here now.

If you're in this situation and reading this page, you're probably not a prisoner tied hand and foot and unable to do anything. Get help. Now. Get off this page and call a hotline, or go to a shelter, do whatever it takes. Get out of there. You don't deserve it, and while it is a consequence of an action, it's a consequence of the action of STAYING THERE. Break the cycle and go. Please.

-Jaelle 7/2001

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