Whose Fault is it Anyway? A Question of Personal Responsibility

I am a ‘fan’ of The Arbinger Institute on Facebook, who recently posted the following Status Update:

“The view that someone else is responsible for my happiness is a symptom of collusion… I am using my agency to give power to someone else to control my life. Then I will take it as evidence that I am a victim. I am giving other people power to control me”.

This is a theme that has been running as an undercurrent in my work with clients recently.  Not least because an eating disorder is the ultimate control/out of control experience anyone can have, but also because of the specific environmental context we in Ireland are living in right now.

As the world knows, we are in a recession, and have a significant ‘banking crisis’ on our hands, where almost every day the Government, or the Banks, admit to more failings and ask for more money from the already hard-pressed tax payers, to address the black hole the Banks have created by their reckless lending spree of the past ten years.

Summarising massively, this situation has actually had one surprising positive outcome, there is a definite shift on a personal level towards taking matters into our own hands.  Clearly we cannot trust the Government, or the Banks – traditionally revered, right up there with the Doctor and the Priest, whom we now also largely do not trust due to the appalling clerical sex abuse scandals revealed in recent years – and so we are faced with a choice.  Do I leave it to others to sort it all out, or do I act for myself in the hope that I can bring about some change for the better in my life?

At an event for ‘Social Entrepreneurs’ last week, I was delighted to share the day with 41 other individuals and organisations intent on bringing about social change around for example suicide, cancer support, organ donation, use of meditation for all, disability support, and of course my own project on eating disorders.  The hope, and belief, and motivation among the participants was breathtaking – there was no recession in Ireland that day, just a fervent belief that we can bring about change at a national, and even international level, in each of our own areas of specialisation.

What is really interesting for me though, is that most of my clients, at the moment, are actually shifting their perspectives, and beginning to really take ownership of their own lives back from their eating disorder.  And whilst I would love to claim that this is simply down to my skill as a clinician (!), I honestly cannot claim that, because I genuinely feel it is coming from an energy bigger than that which we create between us during the therapeutic hour.  We as a nation are truly sick and tired of not being supported by those who should support us, and we now have a fire in our collective bellies, which I believe is motivating us to take matters into our own hands on a number of levels.

Personal Responsibility.  I can, and will, fight back.  Nobody else can do this for me.  I can, and will, break free of Bulimia, Binge Eating, Anorexia.  I deserve better than this.  I am worth more than this.  And I have the tools, and the ability, to move away from this self-destructive way of being in the world, and make my world a better place to be in.

Power to the People.  I love it.