1. Truth: One of the ways I generate suffering for myself is by taking responsibility … for e v e r y thing. It can be incredibly painful. No matter what happens — someone I love is sick or someone else is in crisis or someone I don’t even know is suffering — my first reaction is I should do something. I feel responsible, think I should help or fix it, and when I can’t or I don’t know what to do, I suffer.
2. Truth: To not take responsibility is equally harmful. Someone I love very much is an addict, but the real issue isn’t so much her drug of choice but rather the ground of her addiction — her inability to take responsibility. It isn’t just that she doesn’t “take the blame” when she does something harmful, she also doesn’t see how she can make choices in her life, have some measure of control over what happens to her, that she can change things if she wants, make things better. She is trapped in the belief that her life happens to her.
3. Truth: There is always a middle way. We don’t have to take responsibility for everything, but it’s good to take some measure — to be accountable, involved, engaged, helpful. We can cultivate wisdom and compassion, have agency and practice the sanity of right action, and ask for forgiveness and make amends when we falter.
One wish: May we have “the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”