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Responsibility, Responsibility, Responsibility!

I attended my first yoga class 3 years back, and in the 2nd or 3rd session, the teacher kept on going about responsibility. About how I was responsible for my life, I was responsible for all the things that happened to me in my life, and I was responsible for even things that happened before my life! That I had the ability to respond, that I was response ‘able’. I did not get this point at all. I remember sitting there wondering why was I being taught about responsibility in a yoga class. Well, it was only after a few sessions, did I understand that I might have joined expecting a ‘stretching the body into impossible postures’ kind of yoga class, but what I had got here was something beyond just the physical aspect of Yoga.

So anyway, even after all the sessions, I still could not grasp this responsibility business.

I thought, ok I am responsible for my life. I do all the things to take care of myself, I am responsible! I certainly did not consider myself as irresponsible.

And so, life went on and so did my assumption that I was a responsible being. And then, as life happened (It happens doesn’t it?), situations came into my life at a much faster pace than they usually had before. And in each of these situations, the lesson of responsibility used to come back to me, and I would wonder at every juncture “Am I responsible for this happening to me?”. But then there were so many factors that were responsible for the situation that was happening to me. How could I be responsible for this?

My razor-sharp logic found a way out. It always could; I was blessed that way – capable of coming up with a logic/rationale for everything that happened to me and to others.

But every time a situation came up, this questioning didn’t stop. Though my dear logic was quick to come up with an explanation, still this question persisted, presenting a challenge to my logic every time – “Am I responsible for this?”

Every single time. When I had my heart broken “Am I responsible?” Did I screw up here?

When I had career problems “Am I responsible?” Could I have handled this differently?

When I had ambition/money problems “Am I responsible?” Did I act stupidly?

When I hurt someone (of course the answer might seem that one would take responsibility here, but still the mind would ask) “Am I really responsible here or am I the victim?”

And the damn questions kept getting stronger with every subsequent situation that popped up! What voodoo was this I thought! But I knew, somewhere deep down, this was a very deep issue that was being tackled. This was something that was within me, an inherent characteristic within me that was being thrown to the surface, something that I had avoided facing up to because it did not put me in a very good light – this basic fact that all my life I had not been responsible at all. Or rather, I had avoided responsibility. And now, I was being confronted with it. Each situation that came, whenever my logic came into the rescue, I knew it was just a ‘way’ that my mind was finding to avoid being response ‘able’ to the situation. I was either avoiding confrontation, difficult conversations with others and myself, avoiding uncomfortable situations, not acknowledging my lack of decisiveness, or whatever it may be, I was avoiding responding to the situation.

I would wait for an out, or would rather search for an out hiding behind logic or what I considered as a reasonable explanation for my situation/predicament.

But this avoiding, avoiding that I had been doing, had kept things half simmering to blow up in my face later on. And then I would not even acknowledge responsibility for that situation as well. It became very apparent, that in avoiding the difficult situations in life, I was living half a life. Always hoping for the middle path, the diplomatic way, the ‘let's get on’ way, I was neither here nor there. That is why life had become such a series of drag events, one after the other; because if you keep avoiding living life, to whatever it throws you into, then it will keep throwing you in until you get the point. But once you get the point, then handling life becomes much better (not easier, but you get better at it. And if you get better, naturally, it gets easier too!). It is not that situations will ease up, but you become much more adept at handling them.

With more of the questions persisting, I kind of looked around me and tried to see what other people said or did. I became very aware of the kind of vocabulary that others used around me.

What did I find?

2.   Emotion, Reaction, Action & Outcomes too…
3.   Being able to respond, the way of life!

About the writer - Vishal S Rao

An MBA from IIM Bangalore and a rank holder Chartered Accountant, Vishal is a deep thinker. A man of few words, Vishal more than makes up for it through his writings. His words are measured with intricate meaning hidden in them.

Vishal has worked for KPMG and was in a leadership role at Aditya Birla. Currently, he is trying his hands at the restaurant business.


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