My daughter at age 3, the nurturing instinct is innate.

How To Be (Truly) Responsible.

Cultivating responsibility without resentment is key to navigating this moment of extreme change.

What Is Responsibility (Really)?

What is healthy responsibility? How can we know when to take responsibility for someone or something? Does our capacity for self-responsibility effect our ability to take responsibility for anything or anyone else?

The spiderweb, the flower of life, Indra’s Net…The sacred geometry of our existence has an infinite number of nodes, all connected, and all reflecting all the others. It’s a representation of our interdependence and a very real clue to how we construct reality.
Our torroidal energy fields exchange information constantly.
Atlas is a symbol of the “weight of the world” on our shoulders

When Responsibility Becomes a Burden

Sadly, much of what we call responsibility today is born out of our trauma and fragmentation. It’s more a function of survival in an isolationist paradigm — I need to take responsibility for my finances (health, property, dependents, etc.) because I don’t want to end up penniless in old age, a burden on my children or the system. It can arise out of a deep existential fear that no one and nothing has our back here or that our future happiness depends on a kind of martyr-like self-sacrifice in the here and now. It can also arise out of deep-seated feelings of guilt, grief, and shame related to the collective trauma of the past…some activism is born from this place.

  • Want to avoid inconvenient or uncomfortable truths by jumping ahead to fixing things.
  • End up hurting the people we are trying to help by making decisions out of fear, avoidance of embarrassment, or shame.
  • Mistake occupying a position of authority with the actual ability to take responsibility effectively.
  • Overstep boundaries and take on other people’s stuff.
  • Feel righteous in our views; blind to other positions and possibilities.
  • Feel resentment when it all becomes “too much” for us or when those we are “trying to fix” resist fixing.
Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

“Who” Takes Responsibility Matters

In responsibility, our ability to respond depends in large part on which of the many “me’s” inside takes on the task.

  1. Notice: I notice that I feel overwhelmed or resentful and I tune into how that lives in my body. Not the thoughts or the stories, but the sensations. Does my heart hurt, does my belly feel hollow? Is there an emotional resonance present? I often notice that I feel “young” in this state. And usually scared, frustrated, or even sad. Disconnecting the feelings from the stories helps me get some “distance” from my attachment to what is happening.
  2. Call On the Higher: Holding these feelings, I search with my awareness for the adult in me — the experienced, capable, mature, wise one. We might call this a “higher self” or “Buddha Nature” or “Christ Consciousness.” (Or if it resonates more with you, call a deity, ancestor, or other protective guide.) I ask for help; call Wisdom forward to put my adult self back in charge. I know I’ve found her when I feel my sense of agency return — when I feel I actually have a choice in the matter (whatever the matter is). Ah, as uncomfortable or overwhelming as this seems, I choose to be here. I choose to face the situation as it is.
  3. Connect: The adult me/higher self must connect to the younger parts. She spends time soothing and holding them. And then — this is important — she helps them see that she is in charge. As a good mother or father would. The responsibility must shift from their hands into hers. Sometimes she has to wrest it from their grip. They will tell her all the reasons they need to handle it. She listens patiently and then vows that she will take care of it and will not let them down.
  4. Restore: As the young parts relax their grip, they melt back into being blissfully without responsibility. Natural order is restored when the inner children can play and the inner adult is in charge. My whole system relaxes as this equilibrium returns and I can feel my center again. I literally feel myself grounded, and with fresh perspective. Calm.
  5. Create: From here, creativity, confidence and courage are restored. Even if the situation is highly stressful, even if a lot is on the line, I know I can trust myself. Solutions that emerge from this place are usually good ones.

Responsible for the Whole

Responsibility is something we must practice. I know that I must take responsibility for myself. As they say, if you don’t no one else will. And I know there are ways that other peoples’ suffering is my responsibility. Not, as a martyr, but as a neighbor, a citizen, a friend, a fellow human being, and in my Buddhist practice: a bodhisattva.

Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Limitless Compassion has a thousand arms for helping all sentient beings reach enlightenment. The bodhisattva attitude for helping humans can be summed up: as soon as possible and for as long as necessary.


--, futurist, facilitator, intuitive strategist, teacher of feminine wisdom principles.

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Schuyler Brown, futurist, facilitator, intuitive strategist, teacher of feminine wisdom principles.