Self responsibility is part of individual sovereignty
“I can do nothing for you but work on myself and you can do nothing for me but work on yourself”
Would you agree? I remember when I first read this amazing quote from Ram Dass I was a bit taken aback by the “can do nothing for” because I’m such a believer in the collective, being of service, community and one consciousness. As such, I’m motivated to do for others and have always resonated with another phrase “to find yourself, lose yourself in service to others”. This is precisely what led me to do my work; I’m happiest and most fulfilled when I see my Kinesiology clients, when I teach my yoga students or when I perform random acts of kindness. So all of those would seem like “doing for others”… but then the realisation came; whilst they are doing for others they are very much part of my own growth, my dharma and my purpose. So in effect they are working on myself.
Whilst those were my first thoughts when I read this quote, I wonder if Ram Dass was looking at it more from another angle. When we are hit with challenging moments in our different relationships, whether they be with loved ones, colleagues or strangers we meet in our daily lives, it is so easy to want to lay blame at the other person’s feet. Let’s be honest, most of us prefer to be right.
Imagine a strained relationship; in order for there to be long term success in healing and repairing it, both parties need to come to the table. One party doing all the work won’t allow for success in the majority of cases. So it’s a matter of “I’ll work on myself but you also need to work on yourself and then we can come together to work on the relationship itself.”
So how do you work on yourself?
I think the answer to this is multi-faceted. And a helpful way to come at it is to consider all our needs; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. On a physical level we need to be honouring these magnificent bodies of ours through regular exercise, a nourishing whole food diet and restorative sleep. When we have too much processed food, alcohol, refined sugar, saturated and trans fat, additives etc we place a strain on our digestive system. This in turn will have a cascade effect into our emotional and mental states.
What about your other higher needs? What do you need to do to feel mentally and emotionally stable? Maybe it is creating enough “space” in your day to have some downtime to “just be”. For my evening yoga classes I’ll occasionally remind my students that they have probably been “human DOings” all day and their class with me is an opportunity to become a human BEing again. This idea of allowing “being” is slowly making headway after the last few decades of a pushing, go-go, consumerist lifestyle. Worldwide I would say that we are currently at our unhealthiest, unhappiest and most unfulfilled.
We need a grand remembering of what it is to be a human being. My thought is that we’re here to fulfil our purpose of this lifetime. And how do we do that? We work on ourselves and allow others to do the same.
Change is necessary, and I believe creating space, both on a physical and mental level allows us to evaluate the true nature of what is going on in our lives. For example, people don’t overeat because they are hungry, they are doing it as a form of bandaid to another part of their lives that needs love. People with anger issues most often are fulfilling something else, whether it be generational or stress related. When we create the time and safe space for examples like these to be explored then we can work on releasing them, and moving into a space of unconditional love for ourselves and everyone around us.
Conditional love implies an expectation. In many spiritual teachings we are taught that having expectations of others can lead to disappointment. Of course it is human to have expectations of others but these expectations have the potential of caging you and locking you into disillusion as at the end of the day we cannot make anyone do anything. It all boils down to self responsibility, ie. working on yourself.
When we lack self responsibility we give up control over our lives, we become a rudderless boat out at sea, responding only to the tides and the vagaries of the weather, ie. external circumstances.
There are a couple of other pointers that develop greater self-responsibility. Firstly, being good with setting boundaries; when we over commit we become burnt out, whether that is at work or personally. “No” is a complete sentence, I invite you to use it next time you become overwhelmed with requests, whether from someone else or yourself. Learn to discern when you have reached your limit, it will keep you happier and healthier.
Perseverance is another good quality to develop in taking charge of our lives. Knowing that during our lifetime we will all have tough times but seeing the big picture in that everything that goes down will eventually make its way up again will allow us to keep on keeping on. You might like to consider what lessons you are being offered in these confronting times so that if they are offered up again you potentially have a strategy to move through them quicker.
Additionally, be brave and humble enough to admit when you are wrong. Honesty and acknowledgment of any errors you have made is the best policy. It creates a clean energetic slate from which to springboard off into a smarter and expanded you.
Discipline around all these aspects mentioned above will allow you to be free to be your authentic self. When you are being your authentic self, then you are living on purpose, doing what you came here to do and you feel a genuine embodied alignment.
I also think this quote symbolises release, as in you can only do what you can do. You are released from being responsible for others, rather it is their duty to be responsible for themselves.
It is an acknowledgement of individual sovereignty, a real understanding of “it is what it is” which then creates for both a powerful and peaceful existence .
I’d love to hear your thoughts, comment below and i’ll be sure to reply.
This is one of the things I provide guidance for with my clients in my Kinesiology sessions, both online and in-person. Guidance around developing self-responsibility, all those things that allow us to live on purpose and in alignment with our true nature. If this resonates in any way and you would like to do some work with me, please either message me to discuss your needs or alternatively book in for a series of sessions using the link below. Please note that my work is not a quick fix, you need to be committed to your own growth. Book in for the 3 or 6 session pack; single sessions are for current clients who need an additional check in around work they are currently doing with me.
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