Taking personal responsibility: I can make it easier--but only you can change your life



What I do, especially regarding trauma therapy and marriage therapy, is not much different from what an orthopedic surgeon does. If you have a broken leg, it's pretty hard to take responsibility for your life. But while the surgeon can make that possible, but he can't force you to walk when your leg is healed. And hopefully he wouldn't try to take that responsibility away from you by keeping you in his office endlessly, after it's clear the ball is in your court. Proper therapy is exactly the same.


I can take away the PTSD, and I can set your marriage up for lasting happiness, but it's up to you to take that ball to the basket. Meaning will not come from a diagnosis, as I mentioned in my last post, but meaning also won't come from therapy. What happens in my office is designed to get you out of my office, ready to engage with life in the only way that will bring meaning--taking personal responsibility, and courageously moving forward. And that's your choice, just like it ought to be. I am here to take away any burdens that keep you from fully making that choice.


Taking responsibility begins with walking into my office, and that's a good first step. But what is personal responsibility? I plan to include this theme in my blog more often, even though it's unpopular these days, so I'd better define it. Let's start at a surface level. I talk about this with my clients all the time, and they always respond positively, although some don't make the choice. Some great indicators are:


-Acting according to core values rather than circumstances

-Confronting and addressing life stressors with confidence

-Finding your identity in being an individual, rather than defining yourself as part of a group

-Valuing freedom (and the risks that come with it), over feeling secure

-Doing what's right in the face of social stigma or material loss

-Taking accountability for your situation in life, and taking pride in that, rather than blaming others

-Working hard at what you do simply because you won't accept less

-Valuing self-sufficiency, and not being content with things you didn't earn

-Valuing independence, and associating with others who feel the same way

-Intensely caring for others because you want to, not because you need to

-Considering parenthood an honor and a privilege

-Graciously accepting help when you need it, and graciously turning it down if you can work harder and get the same.


The list could go on, and I am perfectly happy if you disagree with any of these points. It's your responsibility to carefully consider them. However, take a look at the lives of the people who exhibit these qualities, and the lives of those who reject them.


For those who don't know what to do next, let's plant a seed with the advice of a famous psychologist: "Just pick something, work as hard at it as you can, and see what happens." You might find out it's wrong for you (or even plain wrong), but at least you've learned something, broken a mental barrier of fear and indecision, and faced the dragon with courage. As the same psychologist pointed out, one thing therapists of all types agree on is that when you face your toughest fears and problems in therapy, the inevitable result is healing and progress. Perhaps that progress is simply knowing that you aren't afraid anymore.


Existence itself is dangerous, but will you choose security or freedom? It's the human condition, and you can either confront it, or lie to yourself (which will eventually fail in a terrible manner)? I can help you think through that, and help break down barriers that seem totally outside of your control (or literally are). And, hopefully, this work reminds me to take some of my own medicine!