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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Walking the Line

I have been thinking about personal responsibility today and how much we control things in our lives. There are the two extremes, of course, either taking responsibility for EVERYTHING or taking responsibility for NOTHING. I don’t think either one is particularly healthy and that the best course lies somewhere in the middle. The trick is, however, to know where.

Sometimes it is tempting to take responsibility for every aspect of my life. It is a place of great power and control. I can choose to let my feelings get hurt or not. I can choose to change aspects of my life that bother me, or not. Even though I don’t particularly like my job these days, knowing that I am there because I choose to be there is helpful. I can do a lot of things to take care of myself and knowing that is power. Real power. Not power over other people because ultimately they don’t matter, but power over myself. I can choose how I view the world.

But sometimes it is possible to take control in the wrong way. It is easy to hear a report on the news of a women getting raped all the while thinking, “That cant happen to me because I don’t walk around alone at night” I mean, victim blaming is all about trying to believe one has control over everything. I might struggle to control the uncontrollable.

The other extreme, of course, is when I take responsibility for nothing and I sometimes find myself at that end of things. It is nice in a way because once one really believes that things are inevitable, the struggle against those things ends. Life becomes a river just flowing along with me just bobbing along in the current. Rapids? No trouble...just bob on through. It works for a while at least until I get stuck on something. Then it is just powerlessness. Boo Hoo, I hate my job but I need the money. Boo Hoo, I feel lonely and it isnt my fault for not calling anyone. Boo Hoo I bounced a check and had to pay a fee at the bank. Boo Hoo, I hate George Bush being in the White House. Boo Hoo my dog pulls on her leash. Boo Hoo The world doesnt like fat people. Boo Hoo Boo Hoo BOO MOTHER FUCKING HOO. (Well you get the idea)

The thing is, of course, there actually are things that I have no control over. But, probably, most things I can either control totally or at least influence. I cant help it if a tornado hits my house but I can listen for the siren and haul booty to the basement. I cant help it that the world doesnt like fat people but I can choose not to let that hold me back. I cant help it that the bank charges outrageous fees but I can balance my checkbook (although I know darn well that I wont but I could and that is what counts).

So I know that balance is possible but I never seem to get it right. Oh well, one thing I have been learning is that I get better at such things as I get older. At the rate I am going, I expect to be perfect by the time I am 102. :)

1 comment:

mmremmers said...

Do I get this post.

I tend to go too far and look for ways I can fix problems that aren't mine to fix. That might lend a sense of control over the issue but comes with an immense amount of stress. I have to remind myself from time to time that I'm not the caretaker of all things important.

There was a famous lab study where they put rats in a boxes. Some boxes allowed the rats to push a button and avoid being shocked. Some just got shocked no matter what. Who got the ulcers? The rats who knew they could control being shocked.

So, like in all things, control in moderation. As you said so well.