100% Responsibility
Ep. 184
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This week, we’re going to dive into how we can take 100% responsibility for our lives. Even when we’ve been dealt a bad hand, even when things aren’t turning out the way we wanted, even when other people won’t just act the way we think they should. Ultimately, only you are responsible for your own happiness. If that triggers you into wanting to resist or reject this notion, then today’s podcast is definitely for you. This is the hardest work I’ve ever done but it has been life-changing and I want to share it with you.

Show Transcript
It's like well, this is just me. Just gotta live with this I guess. You know, if I admit that I need help and there's something wrong with me or why is my brain like this? Or why can't I just be happier instead of like okay, this is the circumstance. How do I want to react to this? Do I want to get the help I need?

Hey, welcome to Lessons From a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you spent getting to where you are, if ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode. I am so excited you are here. I just got done doing one of my monthly free coaching calls. And I have to tell you it's my favorite time of the month. Those calls have quickly become my favorite thing that I do in this business because they're so fun. There's so many people that are coming. It's growing. I think we get so many interesting dilemmas and problems and mindset issues that people bring. And I love that people call in just to listen because I do think it's very helpful. I will try to share some of more of those this year on the podcast because I think that really listening to other people be coached is just as powerful as getting coached yourself because we all have the same human brain with the same worries and fears and faulty thinking. So if you're interested in signing up and coming to one of these calls and checking it out, just kind of seeing what it's about, maybe getting some coaching, you can go to quitterclub.com/coaching. They're completely free. They happen every month. I'll send out the time and link uh the week before. It's usually at the end of the month so join us. Alright, on to today's topic, which I will say and I might have said this a lot in other episodes so I apologize if I did, but I think this is probably one of the most important lessons that I can ever, ever, ever teach. And it is the thing that has fundamentally changed me and my life and my relationships. And I think that it is the most difficult and important work that we can do. And that is learning how to take a hundred percent responsibility for your own life.

Okay. We become victims in our own lives without knowing it, right. We're not consciously thinking that we're victims. And I think a lot of us feel triggered if someone calls us that or tells us we're behaving that way. We don't wanna think of ourselves as that way, but it just happens. And it's the way that we're programmed in our society to act. We all love to believe that it is everybody else's fault that I'm unhappy or that I'm not doing what I want. Everybody else is stopping me from living the life that I want, right. If my boss would just stop sending emails at eight o'clock at night, if my husband would just take out the trash when I ask him to take out the trash, if my mom would just respect the boundaries that I put up with her, right? If my friend would call me as many times as I want them to call me to check in on me, whatever it is, if the person in front of me would just drive a little bit faster, then then I could be happy. Right? And when you start listing it out, it's actually comical, right? It's comical to think that everybody in the world needs to act the way that I know how to act is right. The way I think everyone should act is right. Why can't everyone else see it? It's so reasonable, right? I know the perfect way that everyone should drive. The speed limit, you know, the aggressiveness, the level of whatever it is, in driving. I know how people at the grocery store should act. I know the right level of spirituality in religion that we should have in our life. I know the political, you know, it's like it's like funny that we don't consciously think these thoughts but we just think like everything I think is right, clearly, and if other people would just get in line, then my life could be so easy. And when we do that, we are basically giving up all of our control and our power to everybody else.

We wait, like I can be happy when everybody acts the way I want them to act. How's that working out for us? And it's so funny when you think about this, like the system that we have set up when you really like consciously start becoming aware of it, where we've decided that everybody else is responsible for making me happy. And what does that do? I'm responsible for making other people happy, right? Where this is where a lot of the people-pleasing comes in. If other people have control over our emotions, then we certainly also have control over their emotions. And we hate people having negative emotions. We've already established that. We cannot stand anybody God forbid having a human emotion. And so I have to bend myself backwards and kind of jump through hoops and figure out what other people need so I can give it to them so they can be happy.

What a wonderful system we've created. Where everybody else is responsible for other people's needs and then we can all just live in frustration that we can't fulfill other people's needs. Cuz the reality is is that we can't control their thoughts. So no matter how much we do, they're gonna still have the same thoughts and feelings they want to have. Of course, we can influence their thoughts and that's what we try to do. We try to manipulate it with people-pleasing, like if I just keep doing more, then maybe one day they will just, my mother will just be happy. My husband will just be, whatever, content, whatever the thing is. My boss will realize that I'm the best employee and be so over the moon and, you know, never have a stressful day again. And so we bend ourselves backwards. And I am just here to propose: what if we just take back our own power and we don't need anybody else to make us happy and we're not responsible for making other people happy. We are just all responsible for our own life. You are a hundred percent responsible for yourself. Only you. That's it. I mean, for a lot of us, we are responsible for our children but not for their happiness. And we'll talk about that in a second. I want you to just sit with that for a second. What comes up when I say that you are a hundred percent responsible for how you feel, how you act, how you think, what you experience, it is your responsibility. For a lot of people, we get very defensive at this. We feel triggered, right? We wanna come up with the but but but but… all of the reasons why that's not true. And one of the biggest things I hear is people saying like I don't control what happens to me, right, in life. Life is very uncertain. It's very unfair. Lots of terrible things happen in this world. I can't control when a tragedy hits or when someone does something that negatively impacts me. You're absolutely right. I'm not saying that terrible things don't happen to you. Of course, they do. They happen to all of us, right? We all know there's terrible circumstances out in this world. There's racism, abuse, trauma, misogyny, patriarchy, whatever. It all has a hand in shaping our lives, okay? So in in no way am I saying like you just get to be happy all the time for yourself. You could just get to decide. That's not what we're talking about here. We don't ever control the factors outside of us. The only thing we control is our own thoughts and feelings and actions. All we control is how we respond to what is happening in the world. And it's funny when you look at the word responsibility, if you break it down, it's your ability to respond, right? It's how we decide how do I show up in face of these? And so what I wanna make very clear right now is I'm not saying whatever has happened to you is your fault. I think a lot of times when we say taking responsibility means like I have to take ownership of what happened to me or I have to, you know, I think a lot of us, and we can get into another episode on forgiveness and whatever blame and all that. I'm not getting into any of that. There is a huge difference between fault and responsibility. Let's take, for example, if you get hit by a truck, okay. You're walking down the street, crossing a crosswalk when it's your time to cross, doing everything right. And you get hit by a truck and you end up in the hospital. It is clearly not your fault that you got hit by a truck. It's that driver's fault. And there are systems that will deal with the fault and the blame but when you are laying in that hospital, okay, and you have to do the physical therapy to start walking again and to mend your bones and to be able to get back to normal. It's your responsibility to do that work. Is it fair? No, no one's saying it's fair. No one's saying you should have to bear that burden but you do like here's the fact in the world: I got hit by a truck and my bones are healing now and I have to relearn to walk. That's the hand I was dealt. How do I want to respond to that? I have every right to lay and decide like this isn't fair. I shouldn't have to do this painful, painful work of having to walk again. You know, other human being did this to me. And I wanna sit in my anger and my bitterness and my resentment and think about how unfair it is. And I'm not gonna do any physical therapy. Totally your choice. The result you're gonna get though might not be something that you want. And that's what a lot of us do, right. Even with emotional wounds, emotional trauma, like it's not fair that this happened to me and it isn't fair, you're absolutely right about that. And so I'm not gonna get the therapy I need. I'm not gonna do the things that I need to heal because I shouldn't have to bear that burden but you do have to bear it. Like that's just the reality. And we can argue with that reality all we want and we're gonna keep getting results that we don't want in our lives. So the difference becomes like this happened to me, how do I wanna respond to it? I want to do the physical therapy to be able to walk again, right. To lower my pain or whatever it is. I'm gonna do the hard work because I am responsible for my own life. If I don't, then I don't get to walk. And I think with a physical example, it's really easy for us to understand, right? Like if something happens in your life and you have, let's say you have a disease, something comes up, right? Like you get sick somehow, like your body, let's say cancer or whatever. You end up coming down with a disease, right. Nobody's fault. But it's a part of life. It's unfair. You get it. And again, your decision is how you're gonna like react to it, how you're gonna heal it, how you're gonna show up for it. Okay. And a lot of us it's like yeah, of course I'm not gonna blame myself. This stuff happens. It's a part of like science and human biology and it's, you know, how do I wanna react to this? And a lot of us get the treatment we need, you know, we had the suffering of the like why me? Of course. And again, that's okay to live in that for a while. It's okay to grieve. It's okay to be disappointed. It's okay to be sad. But then a lot of us get the treatment. Yet with emotional wounds and emotional trauma and emotional illness, we don't, like mental illness we don't. We look at the fact that like I have depression or I have anxiety or I have, you know, these maladaptive behaviors or something has happened and I respond in a way that's not healthy. And it's like well, this is just me. Just gotta live with this I guess. You know, if I admit that I need help and there's something wrong with me or why is my brain like this? Or why can't I just be happier instead of like okay, this is the circumstance: I have depression. How do I want to react to this? Do I want to get the help I need? Do I want to have that compassion for myself? Do I wanna let myself be upset about the fact that it's not fair that I have this and other people's brains don't? It's fine. But like what am I going to do about that? You see this with people who really have like huge tragedies in their lives and you see both sides where some people bounce back and others don't. And again, I'm not saying either one is right or wrong. I'm not saying you have to bounce back. Like I think there's absolutely a season. I think part of our culture, the problem is that we don't give ourselves enough time to grieve and mourn and be sad and be in a season where we don't need to heal. I'm not saying it's like let's just jump into healing the next day. But you do see like they’ve done tons of studies on kids who grew up in very difficult circumstances. And they looked at the difference between the ones that were able to make it out of that childhood and be well-adjusted, be happy, be able to uh function better, be able to like have a quote unquote successful career, whatever the thing might be like how did they fare so much better than other children who didn't? And one of the biggest findings they found in a lot of these scientific studies is that the resilience of people came back to where they believed the locus of control was. If they believed that the locus of control was outside of themselves, that they didn't control anything about their future or their path, then they gave up, obviously, right? If you don't control it, then it's a fool's errand to try to change things. And so you give up and you have that result. And the people they found, the kids that fared the best, their thoughts were that the control was within them, that they got to decide how they responded to those circumstances. They got to decide what they did with the trauma that they were experiencing. And again, I just wanna make this super clear. I'm not in any way saying that you shouldn't, like the exact opposite of what I'm saying is like you should deal with the healing of the trauma, right? You should do the grieving. You should do the mourning. You should be sad. You should be disappointed. You should get therapy. You should get coaching. You should heal it because that's your responsibility. Is that, it isn't fair what happened to me. It isn't fair what I went through in my life and for the rest of my life, I don't wanna carry those wounds around. I don't want this to bleed into the result that I want in my life. I don't want to keep carrying this burden. Right? I want to heal whatever sickness has been within me because other people are at fault for what happened. At the end of the day, it's still now my life and nobody is coming to save me. Nobody can come and just like magically make all that hurt go away or make the trauma go away or make the injustices in the world go away. So the question becomes like how do I wanna show up for that? How do I wanna keep viewing that? Does it help me to hold on to a lot of this anger and resentment, right? It sure as hell isn't changing a lot of other people. It's not changing the systems. It's not changing what happens in the world. It's just boiling over within me. And it's stopping me from being able to live the life that I want. And so I want you to stop being a passive observer of your life. When most people come to me and they say they can't do something well, they'll tell me they're stuck. I know instantly what they really mean is that they don't want to because it's hard because we're never stuck. Very rare, I mean, I haven't seen an instance. I'm sure there's a couple instances where you might actually be stuck in a situation but for the most part where we are in our society, the people that are listening to this, you're not stuck. You always have a choice. You always have things you can do. You always have decisions that you can make. And sometimes those decisions are hard. And that's what you're trying to say. Not that you can't do it, it's that you don't want to because it's hard. That's okay. Let's not lie to ourselves. Right? Let's know that's what I'm saying. When I hear like I can't quit. Of course, you can quit. You can walk in there today and quit. You can go get any other job. You can go sell off half your possessions and you know, pare down. You can go live with a friend. You can go work at as Uber or whatever. There's a million things you could do. You don't want to because it would be giving up certain things. So know that. Say that. Don't say I can't. Right. I can't set boundaries. Why not? Cause people are gonna be upset. Of course, they are. Okay. You can handle that. I can't say no to my mom.
I can't move out of this state. I can't end this relationship that makes me miserable. Yes, you can. You're an adult. You can do whatever it is you want. Did you know that? It's amazing. There's nobody that can tell you what you can and can't do anymore. But you're choosing not to because it's scary, because it feels uncertain or big. And I just want you to know when we do this stuff, we're just as much of an active participant in our own unhappiness, in our own suffering. When we give up that locus of control and we say like everybody else, you know, if my mom would just magically start respecting my boundaries, even though she's never done that before, if my husband would just start reading my mind and doing all of the things that I wish he would just do, even though I don't communicate it and I just give him the cold shoulder, if my boss would just start giving me more praise instead of criticizing me, even though that's the way he talks to every single person, like that's the only way I can feel happy. That's not true. This is the most liberating thing that I can tell you. It's scary, yes, but it is the most freeing thing because you don't need your boss to act a certain way. You don't need your husband to act a certain way. You don't need your mom to act a certain way for you to start taking control of your emotions and your life and feeling better. It's so much better than knowing that you can't do anything, that everyone else gets to have that power for how you feel. Right. It's so much better to get to decide okay, I have control here. Yes, it's hard. I'm a big boy or big girl. I gotta pull up my big girl pants. Do I want to change something or not? Why or not? Why not? Do I like my reasons? Again, you can decide not to change something but at least be honest with yourself. Be honest that like I'm not gonna quit right now because it's too scary for me, cause I need the money, because I don't know what I wanna do. Whatever the other reasons are like alright, now we're getting somewhere. Instead of sitting in like oh, but I can't, I don't know what, like I can't just quit. And I feel so stuck and I don't know what I'm supposed to do. And I'm gonna sit and and ruminate in this confusion. And I'm just gonna like pray that other people change and then I can finally start feeling better.So the first step in all of this is just understanding that. I am choosing to do this thing that I'm doing because it's easier than doing something else. And that can be like staying at the job, staying in the relationship, whatever the case may be. It could also be the just a feeling I'm choosing to sit in anger because it's easier for me to be in anger than it is to forgive or to be in sadness. Like oftentimes our anger is just a mask for all the sadness that we feel. Cuz we feel more in control when we're angry. I choose to worry all the time and be in anxiety cuz it actually makes me feel like I'm doing something instead of just sitting with the uncertainty and letting people live the way they wanna live or what, whatever the case may be. The more we can bring it back, like whatever's happening in my life is because I've chosen something and that choice might be cause I chose to give my power to other people. I let other people choose who I marry, where I live, where I work, what I do, what I study, whatever that is. I've done that up until now. And I can decide if I'm gonna keep doing that. I can decide if my worry that like what my parents think or what my community thinks is more important than whether I like the work that I'm doing. That's okay too. Everything is a tradeoff. I think about this oftentimes for myself. I’ve grown up, obviously I'm Iranian American. I've grown up in the Iranian culture and that in the Iranian culture, it's much more community-based than the American culture. And I see people rail on both sides, right? Like because the thing is that it's 50/50 on both, right?
Growing up in a community-based culture has a lot of negatives because everybody's involved in your business. Part of it is like you do what's best for the collective. Right. But it has some incredible positives. Like there's someone always there to help you. Like you have a safety net. There's a level of support that a lot of people I think in America don't have, right. Opposite is true in America. I think there's so many benefits and like we're allowed to be individuals, you're allowed to, you know, figure out what's gonna make you happy and do that thing even though it's hard. And then the flip side of that is that oftentimes there's a level of like loneliness or there's a level of not having that community and not needing when you need, when tragedy hits, when you have a baby, when all these things, where a community comes in really handy. Some of us don't get that here. And I say this to say like I've thought a lot about like where is the push and pull for me. Right. Like when I say this and I say you're in control, I don't mean to say like you can just be like screw everybody else, I'm only gonna do the things that make me happy. I'm only gonna, you know, like I don't care what my mom wants or my what my husband wants, I'm just gonna only put myself first. Like none of us ever really do that first of all, that's rarely ever where anybody goes, but it's also not what we want. Right. Like there's part of this is like looking at the 50/50 where it's like yeah, it might suck that I have to go through the negatives of maybe having a lot of big family interactions. But then I know that the positives are so amazing that it's something I wanna keep in my life. Right. And so even when I'm choosing, when it's like it's not as though I'm like I never do anything I don't want to do or that I would rather do something else but I'm conscious of it. Like I'm choosing to do this thing because I value having this community. I'm choosing to be okay with the fact that everybody might be all up in my business or whatever the case may be. And then I start looking at it differently. Like it doesn't make me as annoyed or upset. Right. It's more of like okay, this is what I'm choosing in my life because these are the things that are important to me. And I'm doing it from a genuine place instead of like a place of people pleasing where I'm just resentful all the time that I have to do this. I can't get out of this. Like I'm born into this family. So I have to keep these traditions. No, I don't. I can decide what I wanna keep and what I don't. And I can look at why I want those things. What is the benefit for me? What is the con, like what am I willing to be a part of as Iike a collective and sacrifice of myself in order to be a part of that and what am I not? And the more I do this work, the more I realize how much control I actually have. How much control I have to shape it into what I want it to be like just because I come from one culture or another doesn't mean that it ever has to all be one way or another. And again, I'm telling you, it's like the most liberating thing I've ever done. Oh, I really get to just create what I want in my life. And some people aren't gonna like that. And that's okay. And I say that's okay but a lot of mind drama and a lot of managing your mind around that. And that's fine like that's the work. The work isn't trying to make everybody else happy. The work is letting people have the emotions they're gonna have and managing your own mind to be okay with that. Like they're having a human emotion. Totally fine. Nothing's gone wrong here. So the first step, like I said is just understanding that. That like I'm choosing to do this thing. Why am I doing it? Maybe cuz I get some kind of benefit, maybe cuz it's just easier than something else. Do I wanna keep doing it? And then as like a step for me is always asking like what do I control in this situation? Right? The answer is always just yourself, by the way. Spoiler alert. Here's your answer is only your own thoughts, feelings and actions. That's it. In every single situation. Okay. And then the question becomes do I want to change? Do I wanna change my thoughts here? Do I wanna change my actions here? Right? If I'm choosing to stay, why am I staying? Maybe because like I need this paycheck so I'm gonna stay. Okay. If I like that reason, that's great. This relationship is important to me. I wanna make this person happy, whatever the thing is. I want the benefits of whatever my job, my family, my relationship. Now that I know that why, can I change to how I'm responding to this thing? Like that's where my thought work begins. Either I change my own thoughts about it so I'm not miserable all the time, like if I've decided I want to be a part of this like family unit then yeah, part of it is going to maybe family functions that aren't my favorite things to do. How do I wanna think about that? And then maybe part of it is setting a boundary, right? If I decide I wanna be in this job because I need to get this paycheck and I wanna think about it differently, but I also wanna just set a small boundary that I'm not gonna open my laptop after six o'clock that may come with consequences. That's okay. I can handle that. Maybe my boss won't be happy. Again, something I can handle. I'm willing to deal and respond to whatever happens but what I'm setting up for myself is that this is the way I want to live. I'm gonna take control. I'm not gonna act as though I have no say in what happens in my life. If I work for a job that won't let me turn off after six or seven o'clock then I don't want that job. That's what I'm gonna decide in my life. That's my boundary. And when so many people do this and they start seeing like yeah, maybe in the beginning someone's a little upset. And then people learn how to treat you because you teach them how to treat you. It's like life changing. You're like oh my God, I thought that the world was gonna crumble. I thought I was gonna get fired. And like I was gonna get, you know, end up homeless, living in a van down by the river. And that's not what happened. My boss like grumbled and then now he realizes I'm not gonna respond til the next day. It's amazing. My whole life has changed. I hear this all the time because we love to believe that there's nothing we can do. And yet there's so much we can do. You just have to stop lying to yourself, right? You have to stop telling yourself that you don't have a choice cuz that's never the truth. And again, I just want you to to know that like this is just a way better way to live than being responsible for how everybody else feels and letting everyone else be responsible for how you feel and having no say in that. When you start taking responsibility for your own life, you can also start giving people back the responsibility for theirs. When you start seeing like oh, I have so much more say in how I feel and so do they and they may not see that, that's okay, but at least I can start seeing that I'm not responsible for making that person happy all the time. It's okay if they're unhappy. I can start putting down this people-pleasing a little bit. I can put down that perfectionism and that need to control how other people feel. That need for external validation. I can start seeing like I'm good in my own life. And if you are not, that's okay, you can start looking at me as an example. It's amazing the ripple effects that happen when we start doing this work for our spouses, our kids, our family members, they start seeing it. And again, not everybody is gonna be like wow, to buy in. Some people are gonna be upset because they want to live in that paradigm that they lived in forever and they want to have access to you the way that they've always had. And that's okay, they're gonna experience some negative emotions, but at least you get to take control back of your life. And so my friends, I want you to understand that this is the beginning, kind of the foundation of everything else you do. When you start asking yourself in every single situation if I'm a hundred percent responsible for how I feel in this job, in this relationship, with these friends, with this family and I'm not feeling good, what do I have to do? What do I control? What do I wanna change? Start there. And if you want help with this, I highly recommend you do my six-month program. This is what we work on. Cause I know that this stuff is easier said than done. And when you get in the weeds and you're trying to set up those boundaries and your brain is freaking out telling you that you shouldn't say no or that your boss is gonna fire you or whatever, it really helps to have somebody be able to show you your thinking and guide you through it. So if you're done kind of living in this passive mode and letting everybody else control your life and you want help figuring out how to stop feeling like that, stop adding to your own suffering and how to start designing the life that you want, get on the wait list for the next round of Pave Your Path. I want to help you do this like transformational work and change the way that you view your life. You can get on the wait list at lessonsfromaquitter.com/paveyourpath and come join me. Alright my friends, I hope this was helpful and I will see you next week.

Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, share it with someone else. I promise you know somebody who also hates their job and wants to quit, so why not share the love? And if you want to come follow along for more, come join me on Instagram at LessonsFromAQuitter and make sure you say hi. I'll see you next week for another episode.