Thursday, 5 September 2013

Theme of the Month: Responsibility

In keeping with the serious, back-to-work ethos  of la rentrée, this month has been designated as Responsibility September: the month I finally grow up.

The thing with allowing other people to be responsible for you, is that ultimately you're only a side-show in the drama that is their own fascinating life. Other people love to help, but all this is helping, not doing. So, for example you might make a decision based on advice some-one gives you, but there's no point in blaming them when the advice was wrong. All they did was give you information. The information might have come surrounded by noise like "If I were you..." or "You should..." but these are just words. Sometimes advice doesn't even come with information. Sometimes it's just a case of "You must..." or "You would be crazy to..." or "Don't tell me you're thinking of..." I used to be very swayed by this type of thing, and would do what others advised, thinking that doing so somehow spread the responsibility. It didn't.

Doing what other people say they would do if they were you is stupid. Because if they really were you, that's not what they would do. If they were you, they'd do some research, filter out the advice-noise and make a rational decision. (In so far as any human decision can be rational, driven as we are by base desires and the urge to reach the pinnacle of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.) Most of the time, the last thing the If-I-Were-You-ers would do is let some-one else tell them what to do.

So this month I'm resolved to take responsibility for my own actions and choices.  I'm also trying to be more financially responsible, so in an effort to reverse my habits of  cent-wisdom v euro-folly, I'm making a note of my income and spending. In the five days so far, this has been illuminating and also has the benefit of focusing the mind.

The flip-side of assuming responsibility is abdicating responsibility for others. I'm in the unfortunate position of having no immediate dependants so I might as well capitalise on it.  I really have no-one else to mind except me. This month I will not only resist advice, I will also avoid dispensing it. And I will remind my self daily that it's not my job to make sure other people are nice to me.

Health and Calm Month update: This was way harder than anticipated. Excuses were much easier to find than the ten minutes I'd resolved to spend in meditation each morning. I made it to the gym a grand total of ten times in thirty-one days. I still haven't broken up with Diet Coke. On the whole it made me more aware that my smugness about my healthy lifestyle is completely unwarranted so part of Responsibility September is taking my health seriously and doing more exercise.

Joan Didion defines character as "The willingness to accept responsibility for your own life" and says it is the foundation of self-respect. What do you think? Please step up and take responsibility for being the first person to leave a comment. Not that I'm offering advice. As if.


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