How to take responsibility in difficult situations

I could feel something standing in between my boyfriend and me. I wasn’t sure what exactly caused this tension. But it was there. And it felt pretty nasty.

In the past I would have blamed him. I would take offense because of him not putting his shoes where I thought he should put them. Use these minor events to let the tension escalate into a fight. We would both feel bad. Because we didn’t get to the source of the tension, the situation wouldn’t improve. If we’d continue on that path, our relationship would become fragile.

That much I learned. So I didn’t blame him. Instead, I took 100% responsibility and held myself, and only myself, responsible for the situation. If I created it, I should solve it. But I didn’t know what to solve. I got completely stuck. I felt there was a difficult situation and I wanted to change it, but I didn’t know what to change. I took responsibility and blamed myself for where we were.

I felt bad. And because of that, my boyfriend felt bad. What to do?

I decided to go back to the start and take baby steps. To very consciously define the problem and unravel responsibilities. And take action right away, even if it would involve a difficult conversation.

Define the difficult Situation

You feel something is not like you wish it to be. It’s that tensed feeling in your stomach. Or that lump in your throat. Where in your physical body do you feel it? What emotions do you feel? What actions by which persons initiate these feelings?

Before you can solve any Situation, you do need to clearly define what exactly is the problem.

In my case, I felt there was a distance between me and my boyfriend. We were not as connected as we usually are.

Decide you want to change the Situation

You can hope for the Situation to resolve itself, but it probably won’t. You need to decide you really want to change the way things are at the moment. If you don’t have the drive, things won’t change. Often difficult Situations require courage to solve them. Be prepared. Arm yourself with courage. Meditate, relax, go for a run, whatever helps you to build confidence for the battle.

Blame others (but don’t tell them)

In order to take full responsibility it can help to start by blaming others. This may sound strange, but for me it worked really well. We often blame others when we aren’t conscious or brave enough to face the fact that we are 100% responsible for all that happens in our lives. And this is where we stop. Maybe we tell them we blame them. Or we tell other people that these people annoy us. Or we sink in self-pity and stay there, feeling bad at the bottom of the well.

When I tried to take full responsibility for the Situation I faced, I first defined the problem. Following this I wanted to take it all on myself and change the Situation for the better. I didn’t want to blame anyone but myself.

But consciously blaming others is a way to clearly realize what exactly is bothering you about the Situation you’re in. When you can point out who annoys you with what behavior, you can take the next step and find out why you are bothered.

Blame all the persons that you can think of for causing the Situation. But don’t tell them. It’s not their fault. This is just a step in a process of finding out how you can change the Situation.

I realized it irritated me that my boyfriend reacted grumpy to what I said sometimes. For being not patient enough with me. So I blamed him for that. I blamed him for not paying enough attention to my physical reactions when he came close. I blamed him for focusing on his personal growth and not being interested enough in my path.

(Just in case: I intentionally blamed him for all of this for the conscious process. I didn’t tell him these things, because it would be totally unfair. He’s not the one to blame. He’s a great guy and the best boyfriend I can wish for. I share this as an example. So please don’t worry about us 😉 )

Look into the mirror

After you’ve listed all the persons to blame for their part in the difficult Situation, it’s time for some self-reflection.

Why does their behavior bother you?

What reactions, emotions and feelings in you are triggered by this behavior?

And why do you react this way?

Now look deeply into the mirror. The reactions people show you are part of you. Does their behavior cause negative feelings? Probably they show you a part of you with whom you don’t get along with very well. Be courageous and dare to face what is shown to you.

Are you annoyed by other peoples mess? Maybe you are a control freak and can learn to let go a little (it will give you so much energy stop wasting time bothering about this, I can tell!)

Are you annoyed by other people’s arrogance? Maybe you’re very insecure, and would wish to become more secure about yourself.

I felt my boyfriend wasn’t sensitive and patient enough for me and my reactions. I realized can be quite introvert. Even now I find it hard to clearly express my point of view, my wishes and desires without fear. He is much more confident doing these things, what bothers me sometimes. I could try to let those feelings go. Also I could tell him how I felt, even when I feel introvert and find it difficult to express myself. Because how can he take my feelings into account when he isn’t aware of them?

Take responsibility

You know what the Situation is about. You know why you feel the way you feel, and why another person triggers that emotions and reactions in you.

Now it’s time to take that full responsibility. Dare to take that responsibility. Take all the time you need for processing the knowledge you gained so far in the process. But don’t quit yet. You have done a lot of mental work here, but you’re not done. The most important steps are yet to come.

Take action

Is your issue an issue between you and another person? Then talk! No matter what kind of relationship you have, whenever more than one person is involved, more than one person is responsible for the Situation.

Maybe you find it hard to talk. Than write a letter or an email. Be honest, don’t beat around the bush. Be open and clear. But be respectful and gentle. It may be that the other person isn’t touched by the Situation at all. Maybe the other doesn’t realize there is a Situation to start with!

It took me about a week to define the Situation, find out what behavior of my boyfriend triggered the negative feelings and reactions in me, think of a solution that would work for us and find words to express it all.

I didn’t plan a moment in time to talk with my boyfriend. As we went dancing on the weekend, the flow of the moment was perfect for expressing my feelings. I told him all the things I felt and we held each other close. I also told him how I felt we could improve the Situation. How I thought we could reconnect with each other. I told him I would try to tell him what I felt at the moment I felt it. I asked him to be a little more patient with me. And I suggested to invest in some we-time. Involving massage-oil and blueberries 😉

Evaluate

It is important to evaluate whether the Situation has improved, or disappeared, or increased. Depending on your aim. Did things change for the better? If yes, than well done! If not, than repeat the process. There can be more layers to what you are feeling and experiencing. Maybe the first round gave you some clarity but uncovered new feelings and emotions. Figure out who and what causes these new emotions. Blame them and look into the mirror again. What do the persons make you feel? How does that connect to you? What can you do about it?

Be patient with yourself, you will get to the bottom of this, even though it may take several rounds.

Be aware that the process of personal growth teaches you new things about yourself over and over. Situations can arise at points where you never had issues in the past. Why do they come up all of a sudden?

Because you changed.

And because you changed, everything changed.

Situations can be challenging. If you dare facing them, they will not only teach you more about yourself than you ever knew, they will also make your life easier, happier and more exiting!

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