Personal Responsibility as Self CareSep 12, 2022
I like to think of myself as terminally curious.
I just LOVE to learn. I geek out on documentaries, and well, I’m a coach - so clearly I like to help you learn.
But lately, I’ve been learning a lot. This past year has been a bit of a personal deep dive into some topics I’ve only heard surface information about, because I was busy working, with a side-hustle, and (to be honest) there are some topics that are just, well, hard.
For instance, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “trauma,” whether or not it’s swirling around in your circles yet. In the coaching world, we hear the phrase “trauma informed,” to indicate that the coach is trained in how to help people work through those issues.
This year, I was privileged to be involved in the start up of a book club with a wonderful circle of women. We are all interested in personal and professional growth, and back in June, we read The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. Yes, in my book club. Granted we are rotating between some good fiction and nonfiction, but we’re ambitious ladies, what can I say?!
I dove into the first few chapters, and ate it up! All this amazing information on the background of how the brain works, and the discovery of PTSD as a diagnosis… and it all made such beautiful sense to me. Many of the stories and case studies were deeply troubling, but the ability to have a tenuous grasp on the role of trauma in - even - my life was, quite frankly, empowering.
I began to see things in my own past, things that I had a hard time letting go of, but never even considered that they might fall into the category of trauma. Then one day, my coach friend Lee McCraw-Leavitt said this to me - “Andrea, trauma is any experience in your life that doesn’t yet have a shelf upon which to sit,” and it changed my perspective immediately.
Suddenly I no longer saw myself as a victim of “things I just couldn’t let go,” or as unable to “live life on life’s terms,” as they told me in my 12 week outpatient bulimia program. For the first time, I saw myself as a builder. A builder of the shelving that was going to help me get all my “stuff” off the floor so I could move forward.
All the learning, and all these interviews with women who have overcome obstacle after obstacle has opened my eyes to how important personal responsibility and agency are, and how it is actually a form of self care.
Last week, I shared my conversation with Marsha Vanwynsberghe, who specializes in coaching people into what she calls Radical Responsibility. The idea that only one person can own a problem, and you have to let others own their own stuff… which then means you have to own yours.
As a follow up, I want to share a few ways that I’ve come to understand what it means to have personal responsibility or personal agency, and the difference it will make in your quality of life, relationships, and your effectiveness as a leader. It all begins with…
You know, like where you end and others begin. This goes to Marsha’s point about one person owning a problem. You see, in general, I’m not a super “black and white” kind of girl. I’m totally fine with all the nuanced gray areas. But there are a few things that either are or aren’t… and understanding that is crucial to understanding personal boundaries. There’s you, and then there’s “not you.” Sure, there are people you are willing to share your space with, but in general, the YOU space is just for you. So understanding what falls inside (or outside) that space is imperative.
Things like your thoughts, your words, your values, your beliefs, your actions. These are all on you. Other people’s thoughts, values, beliefs, etc… those are NOT you. When you have well defined boundaries, you can then build your own shelving upon which to place experiences or events that might not currently have a home… and are floating around in your head and your heart, showing up in the most inopportune times as “triggers,” or grudges.
If you have some bigger traumas, please seek out a professional who specializes in trauma recovery, but if, like me, you just need encouragement to take responsibility for your role in a situation or event, then this is your opportunity.
Next, you need to…
Own your issues:
Start naming them. Take a look at the things that pop up and hinder your ability to enjoy your daily life, build strong personal relationships or authentically lead your team. Start one by one, taking responsibility for your thoughts, words and actions, allowing anyone else involved the space to own theirs.
Yes, I know, this is MUCH easier said than done, and you might need help. I certainly do! I have great coaches who help me identify these areas, and call me to my own personal responsibility. So if you have a good friend or co-worker who can help you with this one, please take them up on it. Otherwise, find yourself a coach or counselor, and start putting these things up on the shelf and out of the way.
Doing this will help you take responsibility for everything that’s inside your space, and within your power.
Because here’s the beauty about personal responsibility.
Personal responsibility always brings a friend. Say “hello” to “Personal Agency.”
Personal agency refers to “the sense that I am the one who is causing or generating an action. When you have a sense of personal agency, you see that you influence and affect your future by your own choices and actions.
Having a sense of your own agency makes your boundaries pop really clear. Which then gives you confidence to both share them and stay within them.
So, I have some questions for you:
- How well defined are your boundaries? These are your personal boundaries - and they can be better defined by understanding your Core Values, your beliefs, strengths, all the things that inform your personal agency.
- In what areas of your life, past or present, do you need to take personal responsibility? This is where you own your stuff. You can start with things that keep you from enjoying life - like unresolved anger, old hurts, or grief. How about personal relationships that are broken or hurting. Look at the challenges you’re having at work or in your team. If you need to, write these things down.
- What issues do you have that need to find a “place on a shelf,” and do you need help with that?
My passion is to equip and empower YOU. I’m here to equip and empower the next generation of female leaders to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively - in any situation, team or organization. My hope is that the information we bring on this podcast will give you the inspiration to move forward with confidence and strength, to lead in your own unique and beautiful way. In your personal AND your professional life.
It brings me GREAT joy to watch you realize your own leadership potential as you develop trust in yourself. So how can I help? Set up a 30 min consultation where we can figure out exactly what you need.
Ok, before you go, scroll down to the comments and answer this question: What do you need to do in order to take more personal responsibility so that you can HAVE more personal AGENCY?
Until next time!
Episode 103: Personal Responsibility as Self Care
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