Self-responsibility: The sword in the stone
There is a sharp double edged sword that is in the toolbox of every spiritual warrior: Self-responsibility. It is the sword in the stone that all of us must dare to grasp to realize our destiny.
You and only you can decide to change your life.
Such a statement can feel cold and unfriendly, as if we are being thrown out of a warm place into a dangerous world. But, it is actually the most hopeful message I can think of. Because it means that you already have all you need. You do not have to wait for the right stars to align, you do not have to wait for the right lover, or your parents to be change, or your bank account to grow. There is nothing external to you that must be different so that you can realize your own true nature. Nothing. This moment is sufficient. Nothing whatsoever in the outside world needs to be different.
This naked truth is exhilarating and frightening all at once. There is nowhere to hid from it.
And the human habit is trying to hide. Taking responsibility is a lot easier said than done. We are constantly trying to give the responsibility of our peace and internal well-being to others. In almost every case this is because we did not get our emotional, and often our physical, needs met when we were very young children. The pain and disappointment of these experiences created a psychic fragment that is stuck in time and still looking to mom and dad, projected now onto the external world, to make everything better as it desperately tries to feel okay again. It is understandable and predictable and inevitably fruitless. As Omar Khayyam observed so long ago:
The moving finger writes; and, having writ
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line…
So what to do? It is in the freedom to take responsibility for ourselves that we actually prepare the way for our fragmented psyche to integrate and come home.
The truth is that if we still look to our parents, or any other person or situation that is their proxy, to heal and comfort us then we are doomed to remain in the pain of fragmentation. There is simply no way to reverse the trauma that we experienced. And, truth be told, to do so would be too high a price to pay as we would also lose all the ways in which that experience shaped and called forth our particular beauty and strength. We would not even recognize ourselves if somehow we turned back the clock and undid all the events that scarred us. The only way out is by moving forward and learning how to show up for ourselves no matter what. Ironically, perhaps, when we take this step the universe shows up with an abundance of support.
This practice of showing up, pulling the sword from the stone, is a journey of a lifetime but I know from my own experience and that of my clients that perfection isn’t necessary – big changes are possible with every small step we take and the resolve to keep learning and moving in this direction. Our wounds are our guides in this work: they tell us exactly the medicine we most need to offer ourselves. If we have been abandoned then we will learn how to be present and faithful to our hearts. If we have been abused then we will learn to be safe and trustworthy to our hearts. If we have been betrayed then we will learn to be honest and steadfast to our hearts. And when we realize that nobody else can do this for us and nothing outside ourselves will ever heal that wound…life changes. All the energy we poured into trying to eke out this emotional healing from the external world is released to fuel our passion and our purpose.
I certainly can’t make this decision for you, no one can. My own purpose is to teach and hold space for those who wish to take this journey for themselves. If you are tugged to explore how this might unfold for you I would love to chat.