April 18, 2018
If you’re like me, you haven’t always taken responsibility for the things in your life. Sometimes your ego may try to convince you that you had no hand in the things that happened to you or that you had no other choice in the decisions that you made that affected the people your life.
Through the work I have done in the last few years, I’ve gotten much better. It started slowly, mostly out of necessity. Fixing a bike tire here, or realizing if I was going to get into shape I needed to make it the gym at least a few times a week.
Most of us strive to take responsibility for our actions and our struggles, but sometimes, we fail. That’s definitely been my journey. It might also be true for you too. I’m hoping you can get a head start on taking responsibility by learning from the trial and error lessons I’ve learned.
The following list of books is filled with the best of the best. They teach what responsibility means, give us the language to discuss it, and help us understand that taking responsibility in our lives actually gives us more agency, opportunity to grow, and can help us discover the values that are important to us.
This book was the first book that began my journey towards agency, growth, and responsibility and is the still the first book I recommend to people who are looking to solve a problem in their life, get some perspective, and take ownership of their struggles. Although it is a little crass, Mark’s foul mouth helps him relate to his reader in a way that some other self-care authors don’t. If you are looking for a book that is going to give it to you straight with no chaser, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k by Mark Mason is a great place to start.
After making a series of meaningful shifts in the way I thought about my struggles and problems, I needed to address them in a way that lasted. I needed to turn them into habits. All the perspective in the world is a waste without action. By this point, I knew what I needed to do. I knew what the main causes of my pain were and solutions I wanted to try. I had the knowledge, was pretty sure I knew the solution, now I just needed to execute. The Power of Habit was a key inspiration and guide to doing that. It taught me the importance of rewards, how cravings work and how to substitute old habits with better ones. With every small change I make in my life, I think about what I read in this book.
The path to a better life follows the constant cycle of Get perspective. Take action. Turn what works into habit. Leave the rest behind. This book shows you how to complete that process.
After reading Mark Manson and others like him I began to understand what taking responsibility looks and feels like. I began to understand that confronting pain and struggle was the only way to move through it. Life can be seen as a path through the woods. Sometimes in life, we will have to build a bridge across a stream, deal with a fallen tree, and the rare case, try not drown in a mudslide that sends us into deep into the unknown. Some of these obstacles in our lives will be our own fault, others won’t. Either way, it’s always it’s up to us to clean up the mess those moments left behind.
You may feel you want to run from these obstacles, but I’ve learned pretty quickly the running from them is the quickest way to end up lost deep in the forest, still stuck with your original struggles and a wealth of new ones.
Learning this built a real sense of ownership and strength within myself relating to my obstacles, but then next big question came. How do I take responsibility in my relationship with myself and others? Taking responsibility is bigger than just overcoming obstacles that come your way. It’s maintaining that relationship with yourself while working others from a place of trust. Braving The Wilderness is the guide to what trust looks like and how to create it. It will first teach you how to belong to yourself and how to use that confidence to have real meaningful relationships with people in your life and work.
Taking responsibility for the obstacles in my life is a still a daily (& sometimes painful) practice. I am by no means a master, but it has helped develop a life where I meditate daily, show up at my yoga studio 4 – 5 days a week, constantly look for ways to improve my work and confront the more difficult moments from a perspective where I believe I am responsible for doing the work to get me through the challenges life brings.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or lost in the woods, I sincerely hope that these books help you in the way they helped me. If you would like more recommendations or chat further about the journey I’ve taken, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of luck out there.