“With freedom comes responsibility.”
From early childhood we want to be independent, we want to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We don’t like other people telling us what to do and when to do it. A classic example is parents calling us for dinner, cleaning our room, doing our homework, etc. Now the reason why they tells us is, that they think or see reasons behind doing these things at the time. They might also see consequences of not doing these things based on what they experienced or saw during their own lifetime. Quite often they believe, that their experience and knowledge outweighs our own experience. While this might be true in a lot of cases, it is not a precedent to follow. We could have as much experience in certain areas as our parents, if not more. However, the point here is not to argue or create conflict between us and them, in order to prove whose theory or idea was right and result to a positive outcome. Instead, we should try to find understanding and common language between both of us. Finding the way of communicating ideas and sharing knowledge in a non-offensive / non-commanding way leads to gain of trust and mutual inspiration, instead of creating a feeling of one’s control over another.
If full trust is established between parent and child for that particular area of action, then the responsibility is passed onto the child, and parent naturally worries less about the child. If a child takes full responsibility of their actions and the outcome of the action is seen as positive by the parent, then the trust between parent and child gets stronger and deeper. If, however, the outcome is seen by the parent as negative, the parent might feel the need to take the responsibility back and provide a certain level of control over the child. They often call it protection. By nature, we want to protect those we love. Therefore as parents, we are taking responsibility for our children and their actions. In doing so, we are blindly preventing them from learning and growing, and we are making them dependent on us. The more dependent they are, the more control we have and the more secure we feel about them. As the child grows, the dependency lowers with their age, and as parents, we might start to feel powerless. If the kids grow in the direction we agree with, then we are happy and feel safe. However, if the destination is not aligned or in agreement with our belief, it creates conflicts, disagreements and very often breaks up our very precious family connection. It attacks our trust and relationship bond.
To provide a solution to this complex life process, we must put ego and our need of control aside. We must allow ourselves to be wrong, we have to let the child get hurt and learn on their own. We have to let them grow. Rather than being a commander, we must position ourselves as independent advisors, ensuring we listen to opinions and the needs of our child, while finding the right way of passing on our experience and knowledge in the least invasive way. We also must accept denial of learning from the child and respect their decisions. We can always raise questions that help our kids to understand their needs and desires better, but we should never force them to accept our beliefs. Creating space for questions helps us understand them better and empowers them too. We can help them understand and answer questions of what they are doing and why. This helps them learn quicker and grow. If they are allowed to be responsible for their actions, they can learn from them. If they fail to be responsible, we must be cautious not to rob them entirely of their responsibilities. This could be misused by the child and would allow them to be selective of their areas of responsibility, leading to reduced growth potential. Essentially, to truly express our love, we need to let them be fully responsible on their own. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.
Now, while I focus on an example with a parent and a child, this exact same concept applies to our relationships with friends, community and society as a whole. We see irresponsible behaviour of others and we think that we will prevent it by putting laws and restrictions in place. By doing that, we create more dependency on others and prevent growth in each one of us. We tend to blame others for our own actions and often we don’t see our own faults at all. We often believe we are right and others are wrong.
However, if we allow ourselves to look at our own individual actions, we start to see their impact and we recognise our power associated with it. The more we practise this, the more aware we become. If the outcomes are positive, we feel strong and have a natural need to do more because we feel good about it. If the outcome is negative, we tend to change directions, topics or focus in general. However, we have a choice whether we continue to improve or let go. We also have a choice to be responsible or pass the responsibility onto others. The more actions we take on our own, the more responsibility we have and the more powerful we feel. There is no change without action. So if we want to see a change, a positive outcome, we must behave responsively. That is to face and deal with consequences of our actions, whether they are positive or negative. By doing so, we learn, we grow and we also inspire others around us. In the same way, we get inspired. This is a cycle that repeats over and over again, and if we become active participants of it, we start to see changes reflecting our desires and needs. The more people these changes affect, the longer it takes to get where we want to be. This is due to the different beliefs and needs of each one of us. We must learn patience in achieving those dreams and sometimes learn how to let go. We need to understand that the real value of our actions is in the journey, not the destination. We learn much more on the way, than at the end. So the concept of it all is really not rocket science. Yes, to practise it regularly might require energy and awareness, but the benefits we gain are far more valuable and help move us all forward.
I believe that the freedom and responsibility we let go of in the past, can be returned back to us as individual human beings with our own unique needs, ideas and dreams, by taking control of our actions and being fully responsible again.
I believe that by being more responsible, we not only improve our own life, but lives of us all.
Whether you share my beliefs or not, I would like to encourage you to think about what responsibility means to you and how you can improve your life and the lives of others. Whatever you give, will return back to you.