How a delusion of ultimate self-responsibility is affecting your business and sanity
Do you know how it goes?
They say, Tina, dear, but you ARE a CREATOR of your own life.
And I say, well, just fuck that, thanks.
Because yes, I may be a creator of my own life, and I surely am, but things are not as simple as everyone wants to persuade me. Or you.
After all, we're humans.
We're neither goddesses nor machines. This isn't to say that we cannot create a good life. Of course, we can. Absolutely. However, we must rigorously bypass some seriously ill concepts that the world offers us, such as this one: the ultimate "self-responsibility."
Self-responsibility is an exquisite diction, but it somehow twisted as with many other beautiful things that once got into human hands.
Let's look WTF happened.
It's difficult not to notice, talking about inner growth, how self-responsibility is an attitude praised in almost evangelical keenness. It's a cornerstone of Western wellness obsession pushing longevity and high performance as the ultimate prize. Many are amazed by this concept of self-responsibility, talk about it, align their lives with it, earn money from it, and teach others to do the same.
There is no getting around this concept in psychotherapy and inner work in general. After all, ultimate guidance and personal power do come from within ourselves. As adults, we're responsible for ourselves. It's up to us how we respond to our emotions generated biochemically in our bodies, to our thoughts, and, of course, what kind of actions we take. Being aware we always have a choice about ourselves, which is a hallmark of self-responsibility, is profoundly therapeutic. However, is this always the case? And, are there different possible ways how one can use this concept of self-responsibility?
You are the creator of your own life, they say
People understand the concept of self-responsibility in different ways.
The most generalized interpretation includes the promise that we're ultimately the creators of our own lives. It says that everything that happens to us happens because of us. It's egocentric and gives the impression that I exist in the universe and there is nothing else besides me.
And then, there is an upgrade because self-responsibility gets "mutated" by the itch for ultimate positivity, which people call "toxic positivity." I think these two together are exceptionally potent and seductive. In that frame of reference, if something doesn't work out, it's our fault because we didn't think positively enough or try hard with good intentions; only when we're positive and work hard does everything works out. Causes lie individually within us, either unconsciously or karmically or whatever.
The promise of self-responsibility states that every person has the ability to perceive and respond to his or her circumstances and to choose actions in such a way that he or she actively shapes his or her entire life, down to the smallest detail.
And is this one wonderful promise, isn't it.
It's a bit grandiose and omnipotent, simultaneously, yet still somehow seductive. Self-responsibility sounds generous, simple, and logical. It sounds like solidarity because the promise of personal responsibility is built on equality: we're all equal; we're one, and if you can do it, so can I. It also sounds inviting because it builds on the human need for control, and the perception of control isn't only desirable but probably a psychological and biological necessity.
Self-responsibility also means being self response-able. Self-responsibility is not only about the deep organic awareness that we're the authors of our own conscious decisions and that we decide here how to direct our attention, what to focus on, and what to exclude from our mental processes and actions.
Self-responsibility is also about being able to respond to ourselves in a way that we can make choices in our highest good. Yet, are we? Equal in these "abilities"?
And this is a questionable stance about self-responsibility. It implicitly imposes that we have abilities, potentials, and opportunities to influence ourselves and the world around us in the most practical ways and ultimately create reality for ourselves - and there would be no problem if this wouldn't be put out as a general rule, no questions asked.
I say: I do what's humanly possible.
I imagine the self-responsibility concept could pass the unified field of consciousness test. Because we may live in a multidimensional universe that can ultimately be derived entirely from a unifying form of energy, we could all be the same at the level of the unified field of consciousness. At the most subtle level of our existence, in the pure vibrational field of energy, we might all be the same and One. And if we weigh everything in our 3-dimensional reality on this planet, we're all born, breathe, eat, excrete, and die one day. But aside from that? What about all our lives, multicolored and tangible, dense, material, practical realities? Life is pretty diverse.
As much as attitude of self-responsibility sounds nice, and generous, and even soothing, it also ignores the complex individual conditions and circumstances we all have on a very material plane, and it dismisses how they have shaped and continue to shape us.
It's common knowledge that our entire personality is shaped by innumerable interactions with our environment, literally from birth. To ignore or overlook these practical, biological, psychological, and socio-economical imprints and neglect it with the belief that "we can all do anything because we're all energy beings" is, at the very least, narrow-minded.
However, experience shows that this view is well-received by some or even many. For some reason, people seem to like to hear motivational pamphlets, and they enjoy success stories. It's reassuring to hear that we alone are responsible for our success, no matter what it means - a happy marriage, happy children, a successful business, an agile body, and a network of friends.
Case 1. A neurodivergent woman entrepreneur
Imagine a woman building her business. This might be you, or your friend, or your daughter. Imagine she is neurodivergent and she's not aware of it. Her brain works differently - her ways' of perceiving, learning, and communicating are different from people with a neurotypical brain. Neurodivergence is neither a diagnosis nor a flaw nor a disorder that needs to be “fixed”, healed, or corrected.
Suppose your friend's mind is running in ADD or ADHD mode. She probably has trouble getting organized, is often hyperactive and restless, or seems disinterested or withdrawn. She may start crying when she gets lost on the streets, or she laughs louder than most of you at dinner; she's super funny and gives you gazillion reasons for wicked belly laughs and shoulder you can cry at. Even though emotionally intense, she's also innovative, finding unique solutions and connections with her unusual, out-of-the-box thinking.
Business-wise, she follows a super successful, classy, organized coach or, say, a bunch of them. These particular coaches have no issues with executive function issues themselves. She either does not know that problems with executive functions even exist. Now your friend gets into the collaboration, probably start with, let's say, goal setting. So a woman is setting goals in a usual way, she is reverse-engineering the process - a standard approach to goal setting, isn't it. But what she doesn't know is, if you're a neurodivergent ADHD entrepreneur, there's no way you can do that easily, reverse-engineer. No freaking fucking way.
A woman will then work 3 or 5, or 10x harder than her own coach for the same strategy. It's not about intelligence. Or laziness. Or commodity. The point is that she'll probably fail at that suggested approach and feel like a failure because she's competing with someone who doesn't have the same mind as she does, namely - in the case of neurodivergence - a vibrant mind that sometimes also resembles scrambled eggs with tuna, dark chocolate, and avocado. Because that's a neurodiverse brain with ADD or ADHD or dyslexia or dysgraphia or autistic traits - it just works differently.
A lot of women have these traits without knowing it. But they struggle, and some struggle really hard. And no one gives them credit for it because no one recognizes or acknowledges how much effort they've already put into their careers, their relationships, or raising children with special needs who likely have similar neurobiology.
And that's just one tiny example from the neurodiversity corner of how neurodiversity affects a woman's professional life and how she can work hard and diligently and need so much grit to accomplish things that people with neurotypical brains accomplish with ease. Even though she takes full responsibility for herself, how much effort she puts into her career is incomparable.
Case 2. A female entrepreneur with a history of trauma
Now a second example. Imagine you're an entrepreneur with a traumatic past and launch the new product you've worked on for the last two quarters. Then a trigger happens, you unexpectedly meet someone from your past, triggering a trauma response in the middle of your launch. You couldn't have planned this, but it happened.
You start to dissociate, your brain goes foggy, then you begin to wake up in the middle of the night, your heart is racing, and your belly hurts because all the muscles in your belly are tight and contracted from panic. What does it look like when you think about yourself and how you got started? What do you feel about yourself? And do you believe you are in the same position as someone who has never experienced panic attacks or dissociation? Is your success as guaranteed as someone whose amygdala never turns on red, whose frontal cortex and their ability to think straight, strategize, etc. is always functional (yes, people with neurotypical brains like these exist)?
You can invoke spells on your personal responsibility all day, but at the end of that day, your work and efforts don't put you in the same position with someone who hasn't been beaten up by their parent, calling them names instead of hugging them and adoring them like sweet little mysteries of life, deserving all good, all the best, all the most magical you can imagine.
We aren't machines or gods.
We aren't all the same. Even if we live in a unified field of consciousness, perhaps - if we consider our material bodies - there isn't a single person on the whole planet who is like you or me. And how is it that the illusion of self-responsibility has become so normal? We live in more than a unified cornfield of consciousness. Practical reality plays a crucial role. Circumstances matter, ancestry matters, your personal or family financial portfolio matters, and your upbringing matters.
So if you're trying to create something substantial, epic, or simply some random acts of kindness, and things aren't going smoothly and efficiently as you would expect or your coach would expect or the strategy would predict? And you know you have issues with your history, you've been abused, beaten up, called names, neglected? Or your brain works in wonderful but different ways?
Remember that we live in a world where patriarchal ignorance is high not only of systemic circumstances, but also of people's abilities. Neurodivergence or your trauma history are only two of them; there are more.
These are all practical things that women (and men) face as they set out on the path to self-reliance and independence - emotionally, mentally, and financially.
The concept of self-responsibility isn't wrong per se. But you have to be very careful how you take it in. You have to know who you're, and you have to approach it from there. If you know yourself, you can bypass the illusion of self-responsibility that is so bluntly propagated in this society, forcing people to feel guilty for things they can't do or goals they can't achieve. It's not that simple.
There are legitimate circumstances that impede or stop personal progress. It's immoral and perverse to claim that we all have the same abilities, possibilities, and opportunities; that is a lie and we all know it, but at the end of the day, we all try to pretend that we're all competent, all capable, and all responsible. But we're not. We're human beings; we aren't machines. We're human beings; we aren't gods.
I don't think anyone should ever accept the fear of doom, lack, and scarcity. But we need to have compassion for ourselves. We need to be realistic. We need to have our dreams and visions but refuse to beat ourselves up because we are not there yet, or even not getting there.
We must refuse to use this otherwise great concept of self-responsibility to manipulate ourselves or others away from the realistic influences we have on each other.
Feel deep, think critically - influence yourself, for yourself.
The next time you find yourself thinking about how impossible it's for you not to get what you deeply desire or to succeed, and how fucking incompetent you are, when everyone says it's all possible to achieve if you only wish hard and work for it? Instead, trade the crappy burden of twisted ultimate self-responsibility for some beauty of radical self-compassion.
For example, you can start and end your day with:
I love and accept myself completely, no matter what.
This works wonders.
Always feel deeply and think critically about your reality, where you live, what kind of support you had or have in life, and what kind of society you belong to and had. Don't pretend you were born with a silver spoon in your lovely mouth if you weren't. Ground yourself in your reality first*, and only then find ways to exercise your power or will.
If you feel weak, exhausted, stuck or frustrated? That's not a problem. Just start making choices that make you healthy, whole, agile and content - as much as you can, as much as your body allows it, as much as your mind enables it, as much as you budget supports.
Sit with the animal of your body, have a cup of mint tea with your soul, and then decide what is right for you. Acknowledge your needs, not those of the powers around you or some impossible ideals inside you. Influence yourself, for yourself. Be realistic, stay with your reality, and move with your intuition, dreams, and visions. Stay grounded, but move, and always remember to celebrate yourself, and your precious life.
Then, how to co-create your slice of reality? How about this...
Amidst the growing chaos in human society, we each create our own energetic reality in ways that can be more elegant and efficient than ever. A wise man said:
"The only thing that will help us survive this change is for each individual to be powerfully committed to their goals and willing to act and serve in a way that is true to their nature."
I'm watching our ability to meet chaos gracefully and glad to see them grow. We're in great time to consciously co-create our part of reality in a grounded way, without any pressure of how we should do it to satisfy anyone.
Suppose you are on this path of inner work for some time. In that case, I think that after majority of emotional work is done, even when you know how to connect deeply with ourselves, dealing with the growing chaos of humanity's challenging times isn't a walk in the park.
It's not that life gets more manageable when we know better who we're, how our minds and emotions work, what triggers us, and what behavior makes us content, fulfilled, and peaceful.
Sometimes people who don't have enough experience with emotional work expect a finish line at the end of the road of their emotional recovery, and they expect to "get it" when they cross it, which will change their lives for the better once and for all. But that never happens.
With deep emotional work - listening carefully to our depths and reflecting on our own ways, life always changes for the better, but not how you'd expect it. It doesn't become "good" per se. A good life is not a prize. It happens, and sometimes it doesn't... no matter how hard we try or how vigorously we exercise our self-responsibility philosophy.
The truth is that life doesn't automatically respond to our good nature, good intentions or the highest levels of self-responsibility. Our father didn't stop drinking because of us, and our mother didn't stop cheating on him because we kept our room clean and our grades good. Life is not only about us.
The journey to lost self-love - because self-love is the basis for co-creating our piece of reality - usually begins with the unexpected, with the adventures we didn't want. Conflicts, body aches, fights of all kinds, crying games that turn into sleepless nights that turn into deep self-confessions... all this is triggered by a crisis. Then our journey continues through lots of reading, journal writing, meditation, therapy, body work, womb work, soul work, dream work, inner journeys and prayers... and we start doing things differently in our daily lives. We start reacting differently, speaking differently, and even dreaming differently. Things start to change because we change, and even though we have no control over how everything will turn out, things inevitably change.
To consciously co-create our part of reality, it helps if we build a firm mental concept of self-love that opposes the shadowy forms of self-inflicted pain and suffering. Only then will self-love one day become a lived experience. What was once a word, a phrase, an idea, a shy fragile vision... it becomes flesh and becomes the truth and nothing but the truth that rests deep within the animal of our body and leads us to an even better future.
We must love the acorns before we know the oak. Manifesting your soulful desire will challenge you where you least expect. It will challenge you where you think your emotional work has already been done. It will twist your courage, stretch your faith, amplify your judgments, and call you to face your beautiful self with love, compassion, and fierce honesty.
If you are wondering, "Why can I not move on with my New - relationship, self-love project, or work project... why I’m still stuck?" This is why. Parts of you need to recall the unconditional love and support and perhaps some skill of dealing with all those inner parts that are inevitably evoked by your sacred hunger for New.
It is not easy to be ensouled in this century, living a soulful life in a world with so little Soul, where so many people pretend they get it when they actually don't.
Bringing our unique soul expression into this life and society demands a lot of courage. A lot of od resilience. A lot of resources on the inside and out. A lot of inner emotional work. And plenty of love.
In a nutshell
Self-responsibility or personal responsibility is a wonderful concept that helps people satisfy the innate, and thus probably biologically motivated, desire for control and personal autonomy. However, there is a fine line between a genuine concept of self-responsibility and an unhealthy approach that creates feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and other adversities. The attitude of radical self-responsibility sounds nice and generous, and promising. But it also got twisted somehow, and now, using it more or less means ignoring the complex individual conditions and circumstances we all have on a very material plane. It dismisses how they have shaped and continue to shape us.
* Samo Božič is my husband, and he is also body psychotherapist. Above mentioned link is link to his evergreen online course, Grounding Fundamentals.
** Tina Božič is a psychologist and psychotherapist. In her private practice, she helps women heal deep soul wounds to build lives on their own sacred terms. Tina specializes in energy work in psychotherapy tailored to heal the painful effects of trauma in relationships.