“Well, I must’ve done something to manifest that…”

Somehow, acknowledging the power of our thoughts has, of late, gone through a rough spell of Self-Blame and Criticism. Life is full of inevitable ups and downs, but in an effort to take full power in our lives, we’ve come to believe that we should also have full control. (Cue the Game of Thrones theme song.)

Newsflash: there is a LOT that is completely and utterly out of our control. So how are we to find the sweet spot between self-blame and total laissez-faire apathy?

Taking charge of our own well-being and happiness requires one big, radical thing: Personal Responsibility.

It’s Not Your Fault, but It Is Your Choice

The train was late - especially late, and you missed your barre class. The hard-on-herself gal might think, “What did I do to make this happen?!” She analyzes her day to find any hints of how she must have sabotaged her happiness.

Either that, or she silently rages at the train operator, the crowds of people, or her coworker’s incompetence that kept her at work just a little too late. But we know that gets us nowhere fast.

The Self-Responsible gal will think, “Well, dang. Nothing to be done about it now, so how will I make the best of my time?”

A lot of things happen that we don’t choose for ourselves, both pleasant and not-so-pleasant. Those hiccups could totally derail our happiness if we let them, but we won’t- we DO have control over that choice, and we can reorient our attention and energy in a new direction at any moment by shifting our own subtle behavior.  

Enter The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, one of Barre & Soul staff’s favorite reads.

Freedom and The Four Agreements

If personal responsibility is the path to reclaiming our happiness, The Four Agreements are the stepping stones to get us there. Translated into 40 languages they are, simply, as follows:

  • Be impeccable with your word.

  • Don't take anything personally.

  • Don't make assumptions.

  • Always do your best.

Practically? You may not be in control of how everything happens during your day. Things will go awry. You will make mistakes. Sometimes, things will fall apart.

Skip the blame part and don’t take it personally. Drop the assumptions that anyone or anything is out to get you, and continue to do your best.

Head up. Eyes open. How can you take responsibility for where you go from here?

So you missed your 5:30 barre class. Luckily, there’s a 7pm - you can get a few errands done in the meantime and still get your workout. You’ve still got your head on straight.

Work has been slammed, you haven’t had a chance to go grocery shopping in days and your cupboards are looking dismal so you’re grabbing take-out again. Blame-free: it happens. Eat as healthy as you can and slot “groceries!” into your calendar ASAP.

You promised your coworker you’d have something finished for her by 5pm and it just didn’t happen when other things took priority. Being impeccable with your word, in this case, means owning it, apologizing that it didn’t happen, and letting her know your plan for completing your end of the deal. No self-flagellation, no groveling necessary, just a clear plan and honest apology.

Things happen. All the time. Will you succumb to the gremlins of self-criticism and blame? Or will you take a look around, do your best, and make an empowered choice:

Ok, what now?

Go get ‘em.