Four levels of responsibility

We live in a world shaped by habits of retribution – that punishment and blame are morally justified. We habitually blame others for how we feel, and blame the world for what happens to us. It is not in our cultural vernacular to claim ownership for our lives.

We allow others to be in control, and to tell us what to do. Our health care industry is rampant with mental models of blame – its the virus, its the disease, its genetics – and disempowerment – doctor’s orders, if the doctors can’t fix it, nobody can fix it. Our justice system is built upon the premise of punishment and blame and guilt, right and wrong. This is very convenient, because we don’t have to take responsibility when we have experiences that are outside of our understanding or of our comfort zone.

If we would be willing to take up the reins of our own lives, to step outside of the personal paradigms made up of what we are taught, what we are told, what we have been given to believe, the first thing that will be asked of us is to take responsibility for that which we have re-claimed. With autonomy, with independence, comes responsibility.

There are four levels of responsibility I want to address, though no doubt there are many additional ways to think about this. I have chosen these four, to build upon each other and form, together, a holistic picture of what responsibility is, and what it requires of us:


1. Owning your feelings,
2. Owning your needs,
3. Owning what happens to you,
4. Owning your biography.

Over the next four weeks, I’ll be posting about each level. Stay tuned. Every Monday night.

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