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Have you ever wondered why some people rave about self-help books, yet others dismiss the same books as useless garbage? Same book, different people: the key factor is the people, not the book. The common denominator of every successful self-directed healing is the acceptance of responsibility.

This acceptance can be explicit or implicit, conscious or unconscious—but it must exist. Accepting responsibility for healing means showing up and taking ownership.


Accepting responsibility means accepting certain premises:

  • I acknowledge the issue
  • I will tackle it head-on, without blinking
  • I will take care of it, even if I don’t know what to do
  • I will succeed, even if I encounter challenges along the way
  • I have a plan that I’m in control of
  • I feel calm about this issue

Contrast that with the person who, usually unconsciously, refuses responsibility:

  • I’m reluctant to acknowledge the issue
  • I will skirt the issue, hoping that it might go away
  • I can’t take care of it because I don’t know what to do
  • I want someone else to take care of this for me—NOW!
  • I have no plan and I’m not in control
  • I feel anxiety about this issue

Emotional responsibility

The first of these is a path that builds confidence, cohesion, capability and emotional responsibility. The second is a spiral into powerlessness, anxiety and depression. This may in turn fuel destructive cycles of behaviour such as self-harm, eating disorders, or addiction to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.

It’s the difference between emotional dependency and emotional responsibility. Dr Margaret Paul defines the latter as follows:

Primarily, it means recognizing that your feelings of anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, anger, aloneness, jealousy, irritation and so on come from your own thoughts, beliefs and behaviour, rather than from others or from circumstances. Once you understand and accept that you create many of your own feelings, rather than your feelings coming from outside yourself, then you can begin to take emotional responsibility.

In other words, your healing is your responsibility.

Hemispheric dominance

A glance at the two lists of premises above shows that the dividing line between responsibility and irresponsibility is the ability to see an issue without blinking.

The inability to stare at an issue without blinking is a marker of left-brain hemispheric dominance. The more deeply we are immersed in abstract, analytical thinking, the more we struggle to accept reality as it is.

Left-brain thinking is inherently divisive—that’s why science is so good at dissecting things. But this divisive tendency can ‘colour’ our thinking in ways we don’t realise. Problem becomes separated from solution. Perfectionism and a belief in needing to know how to fix a problem before tackling it creep in.

The intellect responds to these tendencies by refusing to see the issue. It blinks in disbelief in the face of the blindingly obvious, retreats towards idealism and abstraction, or gets lost in complex, self-absolving rationalisations.

Healing and balance

Any movement towards healing is always a movement towards balance. The conscious choice to take responsibility for our healing activates and strengthens our right-brain, realistic, intuitive mind.

The conscious choice to take responsibility for our healing activates and strengthens our right-brain, realistic, intuitive mind.

We can tackle issues without knowing how; we learn and adapt as we go. Solutions materialise out of thin air. Success builds upon success, rather than failure upon failure. Calmness replaces anxiety. Balance strengthens.

Whatever the issues in your life, consciously choose responsibility. It’s the pathway to healing, success and long-term balance.

Photo by Payam Tahery on Unsplash

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