Freedom Rings

"Most people do not really want freedom
because freedom involves responsibility, and most
people are frightened of responsibility."
Sigmund Freud
Civilization and Its Discontents

 
What intrigues me about the word responsibility is how we define it based on our beliefs, upbringing, cultural norms, religious views, etc. Don't take my word for this, ask four or five people how they define responsibility and then let me know what you learn.
 
By doing this exercise I've noticed the myriad ways we foist or shed responsibility for our lives on others, on situations, events, anything but us. But what if we re-framed the concept of responsibility to include the word responsiveness? By making this slight shift we are giving ourselves the chance to be sensitive to the thoughts, feelings and circumstances of others and ourselves.
 
Being responsive seems to include the qualities of sensitivity, the chance to practice kindness/compassion --a trait that goes missing when we feel responsible for people and things because we don't feel like we have a choice.  
 
Another way to investigate the word responsible is to ask yourself if you are more reactive than proactive. Does your life seem like a series of tasks to which you feel obligated?
 
If you're noticing your discontentment meter swinging heavy to feeling responsible you may want to investigate this idea. As you are moving through life, ask yourself if the choices you're making come from a place of kindness for yourself and others, or are you strictly reacting to the sense of duty you have accepted?
 
When we shift the burden of responsibility to a practice of responsiveness, we're being generous and kind, traits that allow us to see more clearly how best to respond in this moment.
 
Remember that you have a choice no matter how serious the condition presented. The sense of freedom we experience happens when we give ourselves the chance to respond. 

Posted on November 5, 2013 and filed under November 2013.