I’m not gonna lie. This winter has been rough. Not because of the weather; let’s face it, I’m living in San Diego. The weather is never that bad, and I welcome the heavy rains we’ve had as they’ve reversed years of drought.
What has been rough is the “recovery” from my injuries. I’ve spent a lot of days in pain after pushing too hard — at a level that would have been laughable before — and I’ve walked away from a bunch of workouts; many of which I programmed for friends working out in our garage. I’ve canceled plans, skipped events that I really wanted to participate in, self-medicated, faced deep frustration and questioned many aspects of my identity that hinged on my physical accomplishments.
It would be easy to cast blame. I could blame the trainer who encouraged me to try a “kipping” toes to bar ladder workout that tore my rotator cuff and is still bothering me 18 months later. Or the designers of the “Apehanger” obstacle at Spartan Race, where I suffered a major setback on my gradual recovery during the Tahoe World Championships. I could blame my buddy Jeremey for setting up a Memorial Day workout of “Murph” which re-inflamed my arthritic knees, or the doctor who injected the lubricant in them for not getting quite the right spot.
It would also be complete bullshit.
Waivers — and Death Waivers — aside, the blame game is a fruitless venture, although you wouldn’t know it from the rich lawsuit culture that plays it like a TV game show. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility.
I chose to participate in the workouts, I chose to take on difficult challenges while injured, and I bear the consequences of those decisions.
My recovery is also my responsibility. I can, and have, consulted with doctors, physical therapists and trainers, but I’m the one that has to make the choices and live with the results of those choices. I likely need surgery to repair my shoulder, but I have chosen not to go under the knife just yet; I have other plans that are incompatible with having my arm in a cast for a couple of months. I’m choosing to prioritize these over the surgery, and am responsible for any repercussions from that choice.
This concept extends WAY beyond my injuries and recovery.
Although I try to be a good husband and parent, I’m well aware that I have serious shortcomings in both areas. I have a short temper, get irritated easily, and snap at the people who love me far too often. An easy path would be to shift the blame to them. It’s my kids’ fault for being annoying, or my wife’s fault for repeatedly nagging me with the same questions. If I did that, our relationships would be on a steady downhill path likely until they dissolved completely. Instead, I recognize that these shortcomings are fully my responsibility. I could be more patient, or possibly explain things in a better manner.
By taking responsibility, I have the opportunity to grow and change my behavior and reactions. Focusing on blame and fault makes self-improvement impossible.
I am responsible for my successes and failures.
I am responsible for losing my temper and lashing out at people I love, and I am responsible for letting those same people know that I love them regardless of their words or actions.
I am responsible for the words written on this page or any of the ones I’ve touched; for my Facebook posts and comments, for all the pictures and memes I’ve shared.
I am responsible for where I direct my energy and attention and how I use the time in each and every day.
When shitty things (or great things) happen, whether to me specifically or the world at large, I am responsible. I’m not taking the blame for these events; while I’m sure some can be laid directly or indirectly at my feet, a great many more have nothing to do with me personally. But I’m still responsible. I’m responsible for how I react to the shitty things; my decisions and actions that arise from them.
A quick example; I had literally nothing to do with the election of DJT as the 45th president of the USA. As a non-citizen permanent legal resident, I had no vote and very little voice. Nonetheless, I — and everyone else in this country and around the world — am directly impacted by this and bear responsibility. I’ve already detailed my choices and actions on this particular topic in Dealbreaker.
I am responsible for every damned thing that happens to me; for my actions or reactions to events that are outside my control and for the thoughts and emotions they provoke.
I am responsible for my joy, my life, and even — when the time comes — for my death.
Taking responsibility is incredibly empowering, scary, and comforting all at the same time. But what comes next? Uncle Ben told Peter Parker that “With great power comes great responsibility”, but it turns out that the opposite is also true.
When I could comfortably fob off my character flaws and problems on other people — It’s their fault that I’m overweight, or can’t get ahead at my job, or have a short temper — I had the perfect excuse to not put in the hard work to better my situation and improve my life. Now that I’ve taken responsibility for all of these things, it’s time to take action to right them.
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