selling out

We "sell out" whenever we fail to take ownership over who we are. It's much easier to default to the expectations of friends/work/society/church rather than taking responsibility for our thinking and actions. It's a "sell out" in the sense of turning control over to someone/something else when we fail to take ownership over what God has entrusted us with.

Stephen Goforth

Accountability

Holding people to the responsible course is not demeaning; it is affirming. Proactivity is part of human nature, and although the proactive muscles may be dormant, they are there. By respecting the proactive nature of other people, we provide them with at least one clear, undistorted reflection from the social mirror.

Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Expecting Initiative

Holding people to the responsible course is not demeaning; it is affirming. Proactivity is part of human nature, and although the proactive muscles may be dormant, they are there. By respective the proactive nature of other people, we provide them with at least one clear, undistorted reflection from the social mirror.

Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Good intentions are not enough

Movement is not necessarily progress. More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly. Nobody -- remember this -- neither Hitler, nor Lenin, nor any despot you could name, ever came forward with a proposal that read, "Now, let's create a really oppressive and evil society." Hitler said, let's take the means necessary to restore our national pride and civic order. And Lenin said, "Let's take the means necessary to assure a fair distribution of the goods of the world."

In short, it is your responsibility... not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones. Not merely in their ends, but in their means. That is perhaps the hardest part of being a good human being: Good intentions are not enough. Being a good person begins with being a wise person, then when you follow your conscience, will you be headed in the right direction.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Commencement Address at Langley High School

June 17, 2010

Good intentions are not enough

Movement is not necessarily progress. More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly. Nobody -- remember this -- neither Hitler, nor Lenin, nor any despot you could name, ever came forward with a proposal that read, "Now, let's create a really oppressive and evil society." Hitler said, let's take the means necessary to restore our national pride and civic order. And Lenin said, "Let's take the means necessary to assure a fair distribution of the goods of the world."

In short, it is your responsibility... not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones. Not merely in their ends, but in their means. That is perhaps the hardest part of being a good human being: Good intentions are not enough. Being a good person begins with being a wise person, then when you follow your conscience, will you be headed in the right direction.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Commencement Address at Langley High School

June 17, 2010

Two Ways of Relating to the World

Most people who come to see a psychiatrist are suffering from what is called either neurosis or a character disorder. Put most simply, these two conditions are disorders of responsibility, and as such they are opposite styles of relating to the world and its problems. The neurotic assumes too much responsibility; the person with character disorder not enough. When neurotics are in conflict with the world they automatically assume that they are at fault. When those with character disorders are in conflict with the world they automatically assume that the world is at fault.

Even the speech patterns of neurotics and those with character disorders are different. The speech of the neurotic is notable for such expressions as “I ought to,” “I should,” and “I shouldn’t” indicating the individual’s self0image as an inferior man or woman always falling short of the mark, always making the wrong choices. The speech of a person with a character disorder, however, relies heavily on “I can’t,” “I couldn’t” “I have to,” and “I had to” demonstrating a self-image of a being who has no power of choice, whose behavior is completely directed by external forces total beyond his or her control.

As might be imagined, neurotics, compared with character disordered people are easy to work with in psychotherapy because the assume responsibility for their difficulties and there fore see themselves as having problems. Whose with character disorders are much more difficult , if not impossible, to work with because they don’t see themselves as the source of their problems; they see the world rather than themselves as being in need of change and there fore fail to recognize the necessity for self-examination.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Risk Management

When we say that someone has fallen on bad luck, we relieve that person of any responsibility for what has happened. When we say that someone has had good luck, we deny that person credit for the effort that might have led to the happy outcome. But how sure can we be? Was it fate or choice that decided the outcome?

Until we can distinguish between an event that is truly random and an event that is the result of cause and effect, we will never know whether what we see is what we’ll get, nor how we got what we got.

When we take a risk, we are betting on an outcome that will result from a decision we have made, though we do not know for certain what the outcome will be. The essence of risk management lies in maximizing the areas where we have some control over the outcome while minimizing the areas where we have absolutely no control over the outcome and the linkage between effect and cause is hidden from us.

Peter Bernstein, Against the Gods

Taking the Abuse

When someone stays in an abusive situation, there must be a measure comfort in that identity for the victim. The abused, in effect, says to themselves, "I know what to do when playing this role." To become someone different means acknowledging there is a choice--and with that realization comes the uncomfortable recognition of responsibility.

A victim may tell themselves, “At least in the abusive situation I know the old pain and its ways."  Moving toward change means stepping into the unknown. Fear can freeze the victim into making no decision, defaulting to the status quo, keeping the situation the same as it has always been.

Perhaps the abuse fits some part of how they have chosen to define themselves. To choose not to be abused means redefining the identity. In the end, some people would prefer to keep the painful but familiar abuse rather than entering a new kind of pain--one that accompanies building a new identity.

Victims who choose to no longer be victims take an heroic step. It's an empowering choice--and only those who have made a similar decision can fully grasp its breath and courage.

Stephen Goforth

Other People are Responsible for the Way I Feel

A consistent characteristic of imperative people is the desire to persuade others to be just like them. When encouraged to look back to their childhoods, most imperative people can recall a history of strong persuasion. The parents have been so intent on keeping order that their behavior said, “If I can get you to behave in my world, there will be order.” Developmental years were full of relationships that featured arm-twisting, intimidation, or threats.

Jack told me that he had learned early on that it was not safe to be vulnerable. He told me, “I remember a scene when I was only five or six years old. I had just stepped onto the back porch of our home to set something outside when a very loud clap of thunder sounded. Scared to death, I ran indoors, where my father grabbed me and told me to quit acting so ridiculous. Then my mother scolded me for upsetting my father. I was immediately defensive and told them they were both mean. The next thing I knew, I was smarting from a spanking.”

“In a sense you were in school at times like that.” I said, “You witnessed how effectively they persuaded you to be what they wanted, so you eventually learned to do likewise with your family.”

While it is a good thing to express opinions (as opposed to repressing them), it is not healthy for us to become bossy or condescending or explosive in order to get our way.

Les Carter, Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control

Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control

Imperative people can have too strong a sense of responsibility. In pushing themselves to do right, they often pay the price of burnout. When others encourage them to slow down, they won’t for fear that a bad habit of laziness might develop. Or perhaps someone will be displeased. The saying, “When you want something done, ask the busiest person in town to do it” may contain a lot of truth. Especially if the busiest person in town doesn’t have the ability to say no.

Les Carter, Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control

Living Responsibly

Consistently happy persons live responsibly. They take responsibility for their actions. They do not blame their situations on their parents, teachers, pastors or others. They do what they do for sensible reasons. These reasons are based on precepts, especially Biblical ones. Following the biblical principles, devote men and women gain personal authority and confidence. This may be the essence of freedom. In it is inspiration, enthusiasm, originality, and roominess.

Mark W. Lee, Who Am I and What am I Doing Here?

What Overinvolved parenting does to Kids

When parents have tended to do the stuff of life for kids—the waking up, the transporting, the reminding about deadlines and obligations, the bill-paying, the question-asking, the decision-making, the responsibility-taking, the talking to strangers, and the confronting of authorities, kids may be in for quite a shock when parents turn them loose in the world of college or work. They will experience setbacks, which will feel to them like failure. Lurking beneath the problem of whatever thing needs to be handled is the student’s inability to differentiate the self from the parent.

When seemingly perfectly healthy but overparented kids get to college and have trouble coping with the various new situations they might encounter—a roommate who has a different sense of “clean,” a professor who wants a revision to the paper but won’t say specifically what is “wrong,” a friend who isn’t being so friendly anymore, a choice between doing a summer seminar or service project but not both—they can have real difficulty knowing how to handle the disagreement, the uncertainty, the hurt feelings, or the decision-making process. This inability to cope—to sit with some discomfort, think about options, talk it through with someone, make a decision—can become a problem unto itself.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

owning the failure, too

We humans are the victims of an asymmetry in the perceptions of random events. We attribute our successes to our skills, and our failures to external events outside our control, namely to randomness. We feel responsible for the good stuff but not for the bad. This causes us to think that we are better than other at whatever we do for a living.

Nassim Taleb, The Black Swain

 

the power of labels

Most patients take too much responsibility for the wrong things, and not enough responsibility for those things about which they can do something. Furthermore, on the positive side, the naming (of their condition) helps the patient feel allied with a vast movement which is "science"; and, also, he is not isolated any more since all kinds of other people have the same problem that he has. The naming assures him that he therapist has an interest in him and is willing to act as his guide through purgatory. Naming the problem is tantamount to the therapist's saying, "Your problem can be known, it has causes; you can stand outside and look at it."

But the greatest danger in the therapeutic process lies right here: that the naming for the patient will be used not as a aid for change, but as a substitute for it. He may stand off and get a temporary security by diagnosis, labels, talking about symptoms, and then be relieved of the necessity of using will in action and in loving. This plays into the hands of modern man's central defense, namely intellectualizing- using words as substitutes for feelings and experience. The word skates always on the edge of the danger of covering up the daimonic as well as disclosing it.

Rollo May, Love & Will

Conditional acceptance

Too often we claim that we accept others for what they are when we truly mean that we accept them as long as they do what we want them to. When we truly accept others the way they are we no longer have to take unnecessary responsibility for others’ emotions an behaviors, we maintain emotional balance at a time when it is most needed, and we encourage the other person to be more responsible for his own emotions and behaviors.

Les Carter, Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control

Independently Connected

We must help the individual to discover how commitments may be made without surrendering individuality. We must help him to understand and resist any impulse he may have to flee the responsibility of individual choice by mindless submission to a Cause or Movement.

In short, he must recognize the hazard of having no commitments beyond the self and the hazard of commitments that imperil the self.

John Gardner, Self-Renewal

Overinvolved Parents

Madeline Levine, psychologist and author of The Price of Privilege, says that there are three ways we might be overparenting and unwittingly causing psychological harm:

  1. When we do for our kids what they can already do for themselves;
  2. When we do for our kids what they can almost do for themselves; and
  3. When our parenting behavior is motivated by our own egos.

 Levine said that when we parent this way we deprive our kids of the opportunity to be creative, to problem solve, to develop coping skills, to build resilience, to figure out what makes them happy, to figure out who they are. In short, it deprives them of the chance to be, well, human. Although we overinvolve ourselves to protect our kids and it may in fact lead to short-term gains, our behavior actually delivers the rather soul-crushing news: Kid, you can’t actually do any of this without me.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult

Opportunities...

Opportunities present themselves thousands of times while children are growing up when parents can either confront (children) with their tendency to avoid or escape responsibility for their own actions or can reassure them that certain situations are not their fault. But to seize these opportunities… requires of parents sensitivity to their children’s needs and the willingness to take the time and make the often uncomfortable effort to meet these needs. And this in turn requires love and the willingness to assume appropriate responsibility for the enhancement of their children’s growth.

M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

Let Kids Struggle

When children aren’t given the space to struggle through things on their own, they don’t learn to problem solve very well. They don’t learn to be confident in their own abilities, and it can affect their self-esteem. The other problem with never having to struggle is that you never experience failure and can develop an overwhelming fear of failure and of disappointing others. Both the low self-confidence and the fear of failure can lead to depression or anxiety.

I (am not) suggesting that grown kids should never call their parents. The devil is in the details of the conversation. If they call with a problem or a decision to be made, do we tell them what to do? Or do we listen thoughtfully, ask some questions based on our own sense of the situation, then say, “OK. So how do you think you’re going to handle that?”

Knowing what could unfold for our kids when they’re out of our sight can make us parents feel like we’re in straitjackets. What else are we supposed to do? If we’re not there for our kids when they are away from home and bewildered, confused, frightened, or hurting, then who will be?

Here’s the point—and this is so much more important than I realized until rather recently when the data started coming in: The research shows that figuring out for themselves is a critical element to people’s mental health. Your kids have to be there for themselves. That’s a harder truth to swallow when your kid is in the midst of a problem or worse, a crisis, but taking the long view, it’s the best medicine for them.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, How to Raise an Adult